With electrical power being such an everyday presence in modern life, inattention to electrical hazards can lead to burns, shocks and electrocution. It is important to always be mindful of any potential electrical risks, both on and off the job.
Food services industries are some of if not the biggest users of electrical equipment and appliances. Long-term and frequent use can make commercial kitchen equipment dangerous. This is compounded by the fact that the food industry staff are under immense pressure to get food to pass on time and may be sorely tempted to go for speed at the expense of safety.
UEC offers the following advice for dealing with electrical safety in the food industry:
Water and electricity do not mix:
Turn off all appliances not designed for wet areas. If water is spilled or seeps in, avoid plugging and unplugging with wet hands. Never handle electric appliance with wet hands.
Maintain all electrical installations in good working order:
Ensure that equipment is regularly inspected, tested, tagged, and maintained.
Look out for frayed cords, exposed wires, and of course signs of smoke coming out of the appliances. Remove faulty electrical equipment from the kitchen at once, and make sure it is not accidentally re-used by attaching a warning label.
Eliminate defective or worn electric wires:
Do not use items with damaged cords with wires are exposed. Replace or throw away electrical items that have frayed or cracked electric cords. Also, do not use damaged sockets.
Do not overload power points:
Don’t plug a bunch of stuff into one outlet or extension cord. It could damage the electrical system or even cause a fire. Switch off electrical items that are not in regular use. Provide ample power points and ensure that power boards have overload and surge protection. Double adaptors and extension leads are not recommended for the food industry.
Leave wiring to professionals:
Only hire a licensed electrician to install, repair decommission electrical equipment. Do not attempt to repair electrical cords or equipment unless you have been specifically trained to do so. Failure to do so is illegal, highly dangerous and may void your restaurant’s insurance.
Install safety switches to reduce the risk of electric shock:
Take note of the location of these safety switches, and what appliances/equipment they cover.
Provide staff with training in working safely with electric equipment:
Insist that staff wear appropriate, rubber soled footwear. Teach employees how to shut off the power in the event of an emergency. Train employees to never touch or attempt to help someone who is being shocked until the power has been turned off.
Keep power cords well away from equipment when in use. If you must use extension cords, store them away from water, hot surfaces, chemicals and walkways. Avoid using extension cords that are permanent electrical solutions. Never use extension cords that feel warm when used, this is an indication they are overloaded.
Never use damaged electrical equipment:
Eliminate defective or worn electric wires. Do not use items with damaged cords so that the wires are not exposed. Replace the equipment or have a qualified licensed electrician make necessary repairs.