Health and safety tips for catering staff

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Employee / workerEmployer

Under the work health and safety legislation everyone at a workplace has a duty.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) is to ensure the health and safety of their workers while they are at work. This includes providing training, information, supervision and managing risks associated with the work.

In addition while at work, workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.

Reducing the risks

Hand and arm work

  • Vary food preparation and service activities. For example, avoid stirring for long periods.  Use a variety of implements for serving. 
  • Rotate people through tasks to allow changes in posture and activities.  Avoid doing the same repetitive tasks over and over. 
  • Take breaks. 
  • Use mechanical aids where possible.  Food mixers, food processors, peeling machines.
  • Use tools that are designed to keep the wrist straight ie knives with a curved handle, ice cream scoops with power grip release. 
  • Keep tools maintained to avoid forceful movements, ie sharpen knives and blades regularly. 
  • Use gloves that fit and are appropriate to the job. 
  • When moving supplies, lighten the load to make handling easier. 
  • Replace oven doors to ones that open sideways rather than downwards.

Slips and trips

  • Clean up your workplace so there is nothing to fall over. 
  • Clean up spills straight away. 
  • Use mats on slippery floors. 
  • Have ramps instead of steps. 
  • Wear the right shoes for work.

Avoiding heat stress

  • Replace fluid loss (drink more water, juices and other non-alcoholic drinks). Drinks of 100-200ml water at frequent intervals will be adequate to reduce fluid loss in sweating. 
  • Have rest pauses in a cool place. 
  • Help your sweat evaporate by increasing air circulation. 
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Machinery and equipment

  • Be trained to use equipment properly. 
  • Be supervised when first using the machine. 
  • Guards should always be attached when using machines to protect from moving parts. Only remove them for maintenance.  
  • Always wear the right personal protective equipment and clothing (cut resistant gloves, glasses, apron).   
  • Machines on work tops should be level and bolted down so they do not move when used.  
  • Ensure all equipment is well maintained.

Fire safety

  • Train workers on using fire fighting equipment correctly. 
  • Implement evacuation procedures.

Further information


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