Lesson 15 & 16 : Sanitation And Safety Considerations In Food Preparation


Safety implies the concern for providing conditions at work, which will protect people from infection, injury and theft. It also includes the protection of premises, equipment and other resources from infestation, damage and destruction.

While attention to safety is important in all areas of a catering establishment, the one most vulnerable to accidents and therefore injuries is the kitchen. This is because it is the centre where a variety of fuels are used; and a number of people with different mental and physical abilities work together. Besides, they handle large volumes of food often at steaming temperatures; lift heavy equipment; use sharp tools and often work under pressure especially during peak periods. Service and storage areas for food provide enough temptations for pilferage and theft which therefore need to be guarded against if an establishment is to prove financially viable.'

Every catering establishment therefore, needs to develop a safety policy which ensures protection to property, equipment, materials and people within the establishment at all times, whether staff, customers, or visitors. In order to do this a detailed appraisal of all possible safety hazards is necessary.
Accidents may result from a number of causes-physical, psychological or environmental leading to falls, cuts, shocks, burns, collision at work and many more.

  1. Accidents From Structural Inadequacies : All structural designing should aim at a smooth work flow in every area of a catering establishment. To prevent accidents
    1. The presence of 'blind comers' or cross-traffic aisles increasing the chances of accidents by collision.
    2. When the level of floors is uneven, causing people to trip and fall.
    3. When floor coverings are not fixed properly and provide crevices and cracks causing falls due to tripping. Too smooth or shiny a flooring can cause slips too. Concrete floors are safer in terms of fire hazard than wooden ones with coverings.
    4. If spaces are too small for the activities to be performed in them, it leads to overcrowding, noise and confusion, leading to physical and mental stress. The results can be collision, injury through breakages and much more.
    5. When doors open on to work areas they can hit people at work,
    6. Cracked, chipped or broken window panes positioning of switches, electric or gas in work areas prove a safety hazard. .
    7. Inadequate lighting may produce glare in certain areas and shadows in others affecting visibility and causing injuries.
    8. Improper ventilation, leading to exhaustion and fatigue, makes people vulnerable to accidents.

  2. Accidents From Improper Placement Of Equipment In Spaces :
    1. An electric hot plate placed between two work tables can cause burns
    2. Equipment with exposed sharp edges like chopping and slicing machines placed with their sharp edges towards a traffic aisle increases the chances of anyone placing their hand on it accidentally.
    3. Mobile equipment like trolleys placed in traffic lanes can cause congestion and collision.
    4. Electric switches placed near sinks and on walls behind hot plates, are dangerous arrangements. They can lead people to touch switches with wet hands and suffer shocks
    5. Wall cupboards too close to cooking ranges can provide a grave risk of fire.
    6. (/) Cooking ranges positioned in a manner that handles of pans placed on them are unsafe.
    7. Placement of mops, brooms, loosely placed cartons, crates and other packages in traffic areas cause obstruction to work, tripping, falls and consequent injuries.
    8. Inadequate provision of and improperly placed fire fighting and other safety equipment, can cause delay in reacting to emergencies.

  3. Accidents From Improper Working Habits:
    1. Staff on entering a kitchen light the gas of cooking ranges, without having anything ready to place on them for cooking can be a potential hazard.
    2. keeping electric switches 'on' while dismantling an equipment for cleaning can lead to shocks.
    3. Placing knives and other sharp kitchen tools along with other equipment in a sink for washing, can cause cuts, because they are not visible to the person doing the washing.
    4. Not wiping spillage immediately especially when liquids and hot oils are involved results in dangerous slips and falls.
    5. isposal of broken glass along with the wastes, or postpone complete clearing up of broken debris can cause injuries to those responsible for disposing kitchen wastes and cleaning the equipment or floors.
      (/) Leaving the handles of hot pans ex tending over the edge of the cooking ranges, can cause spillage of hot liquid or oil if people brush past it.
    6. Pushing lose wires into electrical sockets when plugs are missing or broken, especially with wet hands can even be fatal.
    7. Handling hot bulbs to change them because they have just got fused while working, can bum the hand.
    8. Not warning other people of hot electric or gas tops or pans.
    9. Lifting lids off pans suddenly and exposing oneself to bums through steam.

  4. Accidents Due To Nature And Behaviour Of People At Work :
    1. Carelessness: It create conditions unconsciously which are charged with risk.
    2. Excitability: Astate of extreme excitement at the slightest provocation puts the mind out of balance, sometimes leading to careless actions are responsible for workers cutting or burning their fingers or spilling oils or hot liquids while working, making floors more slippery and igniting fires .. '
    3. Fear: Those who are afraid or hesitant to ask how a job is to be done, for fear of being reprimanded or ridiculed, can adopt unsafe work methods due to ignorance.
    4. Anxiety: This can result from some problems outside the work situation; or related to adjustment in a new job or to changed equipment may lead to spillage, slips, bums.
    5. Ill-health: This leads to loss of stamina and easier fatigue; general weakness; poor eyesight and hearing; lowered concentration; and lethargy at work. All these make persons more vulnerable to accidents.
    6. Lack of interest in work: Makes people more easily distracted and indifferent to the dangers of handling equipment and other resources in their care.
    7. Haste: The man in a hurry is a source of confusion and almost always creates conditions which are unsafe for himself and others at work.
    8. Lack of concentration: Attention and involvement in the work being done is important especially when working with cutters, slicers or sharp knives and choppers. Very talkative people distract themselves and increase their risk of injury.
    9. Forgetfulness: Food and equipment get burnt if placed in an oven and forgotten, the risk of fire is great.

  5. Accidents From Improper Selection, Installation, Maintenance And Storage Of Equipment : Selection of electrical equipment from unrecognized sources or purchase of used equipment; improper earthing may become a source of electrical short circuits or shocks,

    As mentioned earlier sharp unguarded edges in equipment and knives, choppers, etc. are a danger to safety. Leakage from faulty or ill-maintained steam equipment can cause dangerous and painful boils. Even small equipment, like a kitchen knife, need to be kept sharp. More cuts occur from blunt rather than sharp blades.

    Equipment with improper temperature controls or cookers with broken handles are risky to use. Some faults in the design of equipment which makes them unsafe are:

    1. Position of safety valves on equipment., where they are difficult to reach in case of need.
    2. Sinks with taps fitted in positions where water always splashes when used.
Safety Procedure :
  1. The controls for all kinds of fuel supplies must be located within easy reach.
  2. Spaces where fuel in the form of loaded gas cylinders are stored, need to be guarded and isolated from possible sources of ignition and short circuit.
  3. Mark all broken or chipped glassware to indicate that they are to be put out of use.
  4. Oven pads must be provided for lifting food out of hot ovens or from the top of hot ranges.
  5. Regular maintenance procedures must be set up for upkeep of premises and equipment to keep them in safe working order.
  6. Every work area should contain aids which remind people of safety, such as posters communicating right and wrong working methods, e.g. "Now wash your hands" written clearly at entrances to kitchens and service areas.
  7. Install fire extinguishers and alarms at convenient points in the establishment in case of an emergency.
Last modified: Saturday, 26 May 2012, 8:56 AM