Health and safety

Related tags Staff Occupational safety and health

As an employer, you are legally obliged to give your staff the training they need to carry out their work safely - which could also save your...

As an employer, you are legally obliged to give your staff the training they need to carry out their work safely - which could also save your business time and money.

Despite the importance placed on vocational training by the Government, for the most part, the provision of staff training is a matter for the employer to decide.

However, there is one area where publicans, like other employers, have no choice. There is a legal obligation to provide information on health and safety to all employees, including full-time staff, new recruits and part-timers. Temporary and agency staff should also be given the information they need.

The statistics compiled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the official body that monitors workplace health and safety, graphically demonstrate why this is such an important area. Having recently analysed five years worth of statistics of injuries to employees, the HSE reports that there were more that 3,062 non-fatal injuries reported - 780 of which were major injuries, causing long-term absence or disability, and 2,282 caused injuries which required more than three days off work.

The most common cause of injury, whether in the bar, kitchen or cellar, was a slip or trip. In the bar, the next most common cause of major injury was an act of violence, in the kitchen it was being struck by a falling or moving object, and in the cellar it was handling, lifting or carrying a load.

Remember, these are reported injuries - despite a legal responsibility for employers to do so, the HSE believes that many more injuries and accidents go unreported.

What sort of training?

Health and safety training means giving people the information they need to work safely, when they need it, in a form they can understand. Much of the information staff need can be given in the form of basic workplace training - you don't need to turn every member of staff into a safety officer.

You may want to supplement this with more detailed health and safety courses for key staff - there are a number of firms which specialise in courses developed especially for the pub market. Allowing a few experienced staff to develop an in-depth understanding of health and safety issues which they can pass on to colleagues in the workplace can be a cost-effective approach.

Tailored approach

Staff undertaking different jobs will have different needs. For example, barstaff, and particularly those serving food, will need to be more aware of the hazards of carrying trays of glasses or hot food, while it will be more important for kitchen staff to know how to use the slicer safely. However, if you plan to "multiskill" - move staff around the business as needed - the training programme will need to take this into account.

More senior staff will need a wider range of knowledge, but remember also you will also need to take their prior training and experience into account. Initially, you may simply have to carry out an assessment of their level of knowledge, and arrange to fill in any gaps where necessary. The HSE does recommend that staff given specific responsibility for safety are properly trained for the role.

Training timetable

  • Induction: Health and safety should be part of the induction for all staff. However, remember that someone settling into a new job will have plenty of other information to absorb and can only take in so much at once. Keep information short and simple, and plan to repeat it later.
  • Reinforcement: Regular short sessions of 10 minutes or so is one of the best ways of ensuring information is understood and remembered.
  • Ongoing: Further training needs to be tailored to the individual and their job, thinking about the information they need in order to work safely. Training will be particularly relevant when there are changes of job, new working methods or new equipment being used.

Training yourself - risk assessment

As an employer, you need to ensure that you comply with health and safety regulations, as well as your staff.

You will need to:

  • assess what and where your main risks are
  • identify what more needs to be done to control them
  • plan and organises implementation of these controls
  • regularly monitor and review their effectiveness.

The business benefits

While health and safety training is a legal obligation, investing in it can also have a positive effect on your business:

  • Saving time and money through less cost and time wasted through sickness absence, compensation claims, damage to equipment and premises, and lost working time.
  • Improved staff morale leading to better service, commitment, motivation and staff retention.

HSE checklist

The HSE analyses the main causes of injuries reported from the catering sector, which includes pubs, and suggests a series of simple checks to include as part of training your staff to be aware of health and safety issues.

Slips and trips​Accounts for 30 per cent of all injuries reported to the HSE by the catering sector, but 75 per cent of major injuries

  • measures to avoid spillage and leakage onto floor
  • measures to clear up spillages and dry floor immediately
  • cleaning when catering is not in progress
  • drying wet floors after wet cleaning
  • no obstacles in walkways
  • no uneven floorways

Handling​Accounts for 29 per cent of reported injuries

  • exposed edges of blades securely covered during cleaning
  • avoid lifting items which are too heavy (eg pans, trays, packages, furniture)
  • avoid lifts which involve reaching up too high or too low

Walking into objects​Accounts for four per cent of reported injuries

  • avoid crowded conditions

Machinery​Accounts for three per cent of reported injuries, the main culprits being kitchen slicers

  • ensure machinery is properly guarded, especially food slicers, mixers, vegetable cutting machines and catering attachments

Exposure​16 per cent of reported injuries arise from exposure to hazardous substances, hot surfaces and steam

  • good maintenance of steam equipment and devices
  • avoid carrying hot liquids and materials if there is a risk of spillage/splash
  • safe procedures and training and supervision for opening steam oven doors
  • safe systems of work, training and supervision in the use and storage of cleaning substances
  • safe procedures for cleaning and draining fat fryers
  • avoiding horseplay

Struck by moving articles​10 per cent of reported injuries fall into this category, which includes injuries with kitchen tools such as knives

  • safe selection, training and supervision in the use of hand knives
  • secure accessible storage for materials
  • appropriate methods of handling goods and unloading vehicles etc
  • secure equipment so it cannot topple
  • training and awareness in placing articles so they do not topple when placed on work surfaces
  • avoid horseplay

Falls​Accounts for 1.8 per cent of reported injuries, but the second most significant cause of major injuries after slips

  • check condition of stairways
  • avoid need to stand on objects to reach articles

Further information

Your local authority will have a health and safety adviser who will visit your premises and offer advice where necessary.

The Health and Safety Executive can offer advice and has a range of publications:HSE information line: 08701 545500Websit

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