There are many reasons why it is desirable to maintain a healthy work environment for employees. One reason that cannot be stressed enough is for your own safety. Any sort of slips, falls or trips in the work place could prevent you from working for months depending on the injury. More importantly, a work environment that pays careless attention to hazards could threaten your life. Therefore, it is important to understand the safeguards that help protect you from any work-related accidents. Causes of accidents: Presence of substances such as water, grease etc. on the ground Hazards that may lead one to slip can be found on both wet and dry surfaces Electric cables, curled up carpets, uneven surfaces or items left on the floor These are a few examples of the hazards which many cause an accident, these are all ordinary and common things and it is important not to become oblivious of them.
Dealing with spills: Don't avoid it; deal with it immediately Use an absorbent material to soak up the spill Clear the area around the spill Avoid cleaning the area with something already wet i.e. a mop Once the area is cleared place a wet floor sign over the wet area to warn customers of the potential risk involved in walking over the area Remove a warning sign when it no longer is applicable High-risk areas: Be aware of areas of transition, for example, an entrance, where people move from wet ground to dry Have precautions to remove moisture from footwear Invest in high quality mats along routes where most customers walk Areas of level changes e.g. stairs/steps, slopes/ramps etc. Make sure the surface is slip resistant Provide proper lighting so people can see where they are going Keep the top and the bottom of the stairs clean and free from obstacles Avoid carrying heavy items on stairs Cables and electrical equipment Identify cables that are trailing Identify faulty electrical outlets Make sure all electrical equipment is plugged in properly Poorly maintained flooring Identify poorly maintained or damaged floors; commit to repairs and prevent future damage Recognise mats and rugs that could hazardous and ensure they are controlled Chemicals Always be aware of how chemicals are utilised by reading the label for instructions Adhere strictly to the instructions
Keeping the work environment hygienic: Always keep this in mind: Clean as you go Keep staff areas and changing rooms clean and tidy Have a designated storage room for cleaning products and agents Use cleaning agents and equipment as instructed Don't leave all the cleaning for the end of the shift Keep floors and access points clear Avoid doing messy work near pedestrian route ways Make sure to have slip-resistant footwear for your own safety Assess the floor to determine whether cleaning is needed If you can, dry clean the floor with a mircofibre brush When cleaning with mop use hot water with detergent, do not use cool or dirty water Maintain clean floors during times of less business When possible block off an area being cleaned using a barrier Systematic procedures: Routinely check that your footwear meets the requirement of your working environment Routinely remind yourself of the necessary principles to ensure your work environment is safe both for yourself and your work colleagues
Working at heights: If you ever have to store away a delivery, tidy shelves or clean out any area that is out of comfortable reach you should commit to the following: Obtain a ladder or foot stool Make sure it is placed firm and secure on the surface below Never position in the way of a potential hazard e.g. doorway Always hold any safety handrails and clear items one by one Store the ladder or foot stool safely away Lifting and Moving: This section is to help instruct you how to manually handle delivery items and other heavy loads properly in order to prevent any sort of injury, whether that be to muscle or the back. Get into position facing the item. Arms should be in against your body and feet spaced shoulder width apart. Bend down with your knees to draw closer to the item. Lift using your leg muscles. Hold item close to your body at waist level. Avoid twisting or quick movements with the item. Always remember to keep your back straight and bend your legs to lift.
Evacuation and alarms: Familiarise yourself with the sound of the alarm, where all the exits are located and where the assembly point is Once you hear the alarm: Leave the establishment via the nearest exit; ignore your personal belongings If needs be assist any customers that might need help in order to help the evacuation process flow Go to the assembly point Wait for the instruction of a manager before entering the building again
As with the nature of any food business, the threat that exists regarding food poisoning either to yourself or to customers is real. You need to be aware that bacteria survive and may multiply under certain temperature conditions, they can typically double in number every 10 to 20 minutes. In order to reduce contamination of food you must be able to cook food properly, store it correctly and clean the work environment frequently. Examine deliveries for any damage, contamination and also for the correct temperature All fridges displays should read a temperature of higher than 0°C to less than 5°C Recommended that you record temperatures two times a day Any chilled food that has been opened should be labelled with a three day use-by date When storing cooked food and raw food, place the cooked above the raw to prevent cross-contamination
Avoid the following around food. Never: Eat or chew any food in a food preparation area Pick your nose or scratch your head Cough or sneeze over food (if you do make sure to sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow) Handle food when you have just touched your face, nose or head Safe food handling: Utensils that are used for serving food should be touched only when necessary Store raw and ready-to-eat products separately Do not allow these products to come into contact with one another Use separate utensils for raw and ready-to-eat products Be aware of the food allergens that exist in your work environment Use a colour coding system for different types of food for both preparation and serving Be aware of the proper ways to store different types of food e.g. frozen items should be in the freezer at over -18°C When appropriate package and label food e.g. opening tomatoes, remember to reseal and place a label on them with the open date and use-by date
Chemicals: Be aware of all the different chemicals used in the work environment and how they may potentially contaminate food. There are many ways you can prevent contamination from occurring: Follow the instructions as outlined on the chemicals label Never use containers that are used for storing food for any kind of chemical storage Be sure to sanitise surfaces when food is not present Store chemicals in a separate room or press away from food areas Additional principles: This is similar to information as outlined in the personal hygiene section. However, reminders are important as anything can easily find its way into food: Remember to keep all food covered and labelled when it is stored Wear no jewellery, anything nail related or false eye lashes Wash all salad items thoroughly before preparation of food and check it a number of times When storing food deliveries make sure all items are places on shelves and not the floor Wear vinyl gloves when preparing food
Uniforms, aprons, and garments should be clean when beginning a shift and change regularly when necessary Employees should not wear uniforms or aprons outside of the food preparation area Avoid wearing damaged or worn out uniforms, aprons or garments Personal clothing should not be worn in the working area Uniform of any kind should not be worn travelling to and from work Storage facilities and changing amenities should be provided for the overall benefit of the business Dirty clothing items should be stored in a laundry bag and away from food preparation areas Educate yourself on the reasons of uniform and protective clothing
Keep your hair in a neat and tidy state, and where provided wear a hairnet in the presence of food Wear clean protective clothing when interacting with food Keep fingernails trimmed and do not wear artificial nails or fingernail polish Utilise single-use gloves for handling and preparing food; this will help to prevent contamination with frequent changing If using multi-use gloves make sure they are washed, sanitised and rinsed between uses Remove all jewellery from hands and arms Make sure to keep all cuts, grazes and sores bandaged up with an easily identifiable coloured band-aid Showering on a daily basis will help to prevent pathogens from skin and hair coming into contact with food What do you do when suffering from ailments and illnesses that may be a hazard to food safety? The first step is to not panic when feeling sick in the working environment Common ailments which people suffer from that effect the safety of food are vomiting and diarrhoea Report to a supervisor in the event of suffering from any ailment or illness It is better that you remain absent while sick rather than be around areas of food preparation If you do suffer from diarrhoea or vomiting, you should not return to work until 48 hours after the symptoms have cleared
When working in any environment with food maintaining a high standard of hand-washing is extremely important. The diagram below outlines the best way to wash your hands and ensure you are safe to interact with food. You should wash your hands frequently (every 20 minutes) or after the following occurrences: Before beginning or recommencing work After using the toilet Before handling cooked foods When handling or preparing raw food After touching bins or handling rubbish After smoking When you cough, sneeze, touch bare skin etc. Moreover, you are better off using disposable tissues rather than a handkerchief After cleaning, interacting with people and handling money The best means of washing your hands is with hot soapy water.
The template below is an example of a checklist that might be filled out on a daily basis in the work environment. This helps the business to keep consistent and detailed records in order to make sure that company procedures are being adhered to and hazards avoided.