Tips for Health and Safety in the Workplace
In recognition of workplace health and safety month, we’ve compiled Loss Prevention Tips for two high-risk workplaces – commercial kitchens and auto repair shops. Because of the increased risk of fire and health hazards it is important to remain extra vigilant to avoid a claims situation. However, many of these tips can be useful in any workplace. Read on to find out how you can take simple precautions to create a safer work environment and prevent a loss in the future.
As commercial kitchen technologies, equipment, and cooking techniques continue to advance, so should safety measures. Every kitchen is different, but here are a few things to check for to make sure your workplace is set up to avoid fires and deal with them when they arise.
Clean you exhaust vents frequently to avoid grease buildup. Grease buildup can cause kitchen hoods to crack, swell, blister or deteriorate. It can also increase damage caused by fires. By doing regular cleaning and maintenance you can avoid expensive repairs, voided warranties, and an unsafe workplace.
Keep a K-class fire extinguisher in your kitchen. We suggest making monthly inspections in addition to annual maintenance from a licensed fire service provider to help make sure you are compliant with code and ready in an emergency. It is also important to train your employees to take the role of first responder in the event of a fire.
Unplug electrical cords when your appliances are not in us. Cords and combustible items such as potholders, boxes, and plastic utensils should be kept away from hot surfaces and water sources and only microwave-safe utensils and cookware should be used in the microwave. Finally, utilize the kitchen hood to properly vent the kitchen, creating a healthier workplace and decreasing your risk of fire.
Dress for success. You employees’ uniforms should fit appropriately and work correctly for more than aesthetic reasons. Loose-fitting clothes or open jackets are at risk of coming into contact with open flames or hot surfaces. It is also important to warn your employees about the dangers of flammable hair products and loose long hair. Pulling their hair back and using non-flammable products will make them safer when dealing with heat in the kitchen.
A grease trap or interceptor should be installed by a licensed plumber in your commercial kitchen. It collects grease, preventing it from going down the drain and is required in most communities by a Sewer By-Law. These traps will save you from costly cleanups associated with fat, oil and grease buildup in your sewer. A well-maintained grease trap should be cleaned once a week or when more than 50% full. For more information about Grease Traps and grease trap maintenance, check out the full Loss Prevention Tip and for more information about commercial kitchen safety in general try this Loss Prevention Tip
Auto Repair Safety
Auto repair and body shops are among the businesses which experience fires most frequently. Between the storage of flammable liquids and the risks associated with spray painting and welding the potential for fire is high. It is important to follow maintenance and schedules and recognize situations that could result in a fire.
Here are some general tips that could prevent a fire in your workplace:
Material Safety Data Sheets
Gather MSDS sheets from manufacturers to ensure you’re storing and using materials in a safe manner. Use equipment according to manufacturers’ specifications.
Make sure your employees are properly trained and have proper certification to perform spray painting and welding.
Store flammable paints, thinners and adhesives in approved fire-rated cabinets away from ignition sources. Store oxygen and fuel tanks separately; away from heat and sunlight in a dry, well-ventilated area.
Check electrical equipment to locate wiring that is frayed or cracked and could cause sparks near welding or painting equipment and make sure that equipment is properly grounded.
Make sure your workplace is clean and dirty to avoid accidents. Clean oil spills immediately, remove trash daily and keep oily rags and clothing in a CSA listed closed metal container until you dispose of or launder them.
Labelling your materials can prevent mix-ups. You should also secure dangerous materials like gas tanks away from high traffic areas.
Heat and Flames
Keep anything that may overheat or spark away from highly flammable work that is highly flammable. This includes space heaters, portable lamps and anything else that may spark or overheat.
You should take extra special precautions when engaging in the following two activities:
- Spray coating operations represent a high risk of fire and explosion hazards. Spraying flammable/combustible liquids or materials near any source of ignition or in the presence of a source of ignition can result in serious physical injury or death. Inhalation of materials used in spray coating is a significant hazard as well. For tips, PPE, facility requirements and more, check out this Loss Prevention Tip.
- Hot work (like welding) continues to be a leading cause of industrial fires, consistently in the top five across all industries. Taking precautions can save property and lives. For more information about how to ensure your employees safety check out this Loss Prevention Tip.
For more information about keeping your auto repair shop safe and loss free, check out the full Loss Prevention Tip.
Have a Backup
Wherever you happen to work, fires can happen even after all the necessary preventative measures are taken. Should your employees need to evacuate, emergency lights and exit signs will be critical in assisting them to the nearest safe exit. Emergency lights and exit signs require monthly checks and extensive annual inspections, so partner with a fire protection provider to ensure your lights are operational.
This health and safety month, follow these tips and avoid claims situation, while making work safer for you employees. To find more Red River Mutual Loss Prevention Tips go to our Loss Prevention Tips Archive.