Legal advice: Health & safety

Related tags Food safety Occupational safety and health Hazard analysis and critical control points

HEALTH AND Safety is increasingly uppermost in the minds of people running local pubs which cater for a regular clientele or the more upmarket...

HEALTH AND Safety is increasingly uppermost in the minds of people running local pubs which cater for a regular clientele or the more upmarket gastropubs which attract people from a wider area.

Managing risk is not only about legislation - it can bring real business benefits too, and although it doesn't need to be overly complicated it does need careful planning and leadership. And that is where the pub industry can benefit from an independent inspection.

When you walk into a pub do you look for obvious hazards underfoot? Probably not, but that's the first thing a health and safety expert looks for, since trips, slips and falls - on both sides of the bar - are some of the main causes of injury in the licensed trade.

In fact, statistics indicate that one-third of pub accidents are blamed on slips and trips in the public area - and this is particularly so in country pubs where many of the customers are in the older age group.Cellar trips

Cellars, too, are a place where an accident is all too likely to happen. Here again slips, trips and falls are an obvious risk as are the areas of sack drops.

The storage of CO2 gas cylinders can also present a potential safety hazard, so gas protection systems should be checked in detail. Managers and staff should be trained in the proper handling of cylinders. Personal protective equipment, cleanliness of walls, ceilings and hatches should also be looked at.

To maintain best practice, safety procedures in the kitchens need scrutiny to ensure consistent food quality and safety. The fact that so many people suffer from food poisoning each year makes this a priority.

Checking the temperature for food storage, preparation and cooking are among the first considerations before checking for cross-contamination. Storage of food, date labelling and stock rotation need to come under the microscope, as do the cleanliness of equipment, attitudes and dress of kitchen staff, and possible fire risk areas.

Wastage sheets should be closely monitored as they can indicate a number of things - not least whether certain foodstuffs are being over-prepared in relation to need.

When it comes to kitchen food safety, you need to make sure that HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) or SFBB (Safer Food, Better Business) systems are in place. SFBB is a government initiative introduced in 2006 for smaller businesses, while HACCP is the system for bigger, established businesses.

In both instances a priority must be that all food is monitored from supplier to plate, thus ensuring a high standard of food safety within the particular establishment.

Checks on the rest of your premises should include looking at health and safety policies, making sure the appropriate signage is in place, ensuring that an accident report book is in use and kept up to date and that fire extinguishers and fire exits are clearly identified.

Emergency lighting and fire assembly points should be regularly checked, too, as should first-aid kits on site.

Storage areas

The state of the premises - roofing and general exterior maintenance and upkeep - storage areas and security should also be looked at, as well as potential trading standards issues and correct weights and measures displays.

It is important that premises have a licence summary on display together with Performing Rights Society and insurance liability certificates. All these issues are relevant.

Staff training in health and safety is essential and you should take a close look at what aspects of training are needed in relation to tasks being carried out.

Independent checks by a health and food safety expert will ensure your pub has a clean bill of health - and is safe.

Over the forthcoming series of articles Stuart Knill of Venners will look at each of these areas in more depth and answer any questions that you have in relation to health & safety, fire safety or food safety.

Related topics Licensing law

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