In any commercial kitchen, employees are at increased risk of electrocution due to multiple pieces of equipment, exposure to water spills, and even grease fires. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have standards and suggestions to minimize the threat of electrocution.
Every person in a commercial kitchen has the responsibility to look out for areas of concern. Hazards such as worn electrical cords or damaged outlets need to be reported to a supervisor immediately.
When using equipment requiring electricity, there are several things employees can do to prevent accidents.
• Know how to shut off power in case of an emergency.
• Pull the plug, not the cord when unplugging equipment.
• Keep the power cord clear from equipment when in use.
• Avoid touching the prongs of a plug while inserting it into an outlet.
• Do not plug something in if the cord is wet or if you are touching a wet surface.
• If extension cords are warm when in use, they are being overloaded and can cause a fire or electrocution. Find a thicker extension cord with higher capacity.
• If a person is being shocked, don’t touch them. Wait until the power is turned off.
Employers have the primary responsibility of protecting their employees. Protect their health and safety by following OSHA standards, including the following:
• Standard 1910.22(b)(1). Establishments must provide floor or ceiling plugs so equipment power cords do not run across walkways.
• Standard 1910.303(g)(1). There must be sufficient space to work around and service electrical equipment at all times.
• Standard 1910.304(f)(5)(v). All electrical outlets near sources of water must be properly grounded.
• Standard 1910.334(a)(2)(ii). Cords, receptacles and portable electronic equipment that are damaged must be removed from service and repaired before they can be used again.
• Standard 1910.334(a)(5)(i). Managers must train employees not to plug or unplug equipment when their hands are wet.
Remember, one-tenth (0.1) amp of electricity flowing through the human body for two seconds can cause death. Any electrical circuit can pose a potentially lethal hazard to employees. With so many electrical appliances in use in commercial kitchens, it is essential businesses put safeguards in place and teach safe work practices to staff.
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