7 most common types of hazards in hospitality

There are hazards in every workplace. It’s impossible to eliminate all hazards but it is possible to reduce the risk posed. When assessing the hazards that exist in your workplace, you can give yourself a head start by understanding the most common ones that appear in your type of workplace.

If you work in a hospitality environment you need to not only be aware of fairly generic hazards such as slips and trips, but also the more unique hazards specific to your workplace such as burns and scalds from cooking.

Here’s the 7 most common hazards to look out for in hospitality.

1. Lifting and pushing

Staff who work in bars, restaurants and other venues are always on the go and moving equipment by hand. Whether its boxes, plates, trays or anything else, handling heavy or awkward shaped objects incorrectly can cause serious musculoskeletal injuries. Trauma to your back, knees, elbows and muscles is common when not handling a load correctly. If work is repetitive like moving kegs or barrels regularly the damage can build over time and cause more serious.

Ways to tackle this are:

  • Ensure regular training is carried out for employees who carry loads by hand.
  • Ensure new starters have a proper induction which includes instructions on safe manual handling
  • Use mechanical aids where possible (such as keg lifters).
  • Re-arrange equipment/workplace so less manual handling is required
  • Ask for help. Don’t feel ashamed in asking for assistance if an object is too heavy or awkward to lift alone.

2. Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls is an occupational hazard which will occur in any workplace, including hospitality venues. The most common reason for risk of slips and trips is poor housekeeping. Boxes, wires, cables, bin bags and other materials left in walkways provide the ammunition required for a person to slip on.

In hospitality, housekeeping levels are often inconsistent across the venue layout. Extra efforts are usually made to ensure areas of public footfall are tidy and free from objects that could cause trip hazards, but it’s important to focus on back of house areas as well as it’s actually the staff within the venue who are rushing around who are more likely to have an incident.

Practical measures to prevent these slips, trips and falls:

  • Use effective signage and lighting
  • Clean up spills straight away 
  • Ensure emphasis is placed on staff only as well public facing areas

Practical measures to prevent these slips, trips and falls:

  • Use effective signage and lighting
  • Clean up spills straight away 
  • Ensure emphasis is placed on staff only as well public facing areas

3. Hazardous Chemicals

Many different types of hazardous chemicals are used in the hospitality industry. They include washing-up liquids, dishwasher detergents, rinse-aids, drain-cleaning products, oven cleaners, disinfectants. Many chemicals are hazardous because they’re corrosive and can cause skin and eye burns if splashed onto the body. 

Ways to ensure your safety when dealing with these chemicals are:

  • Store chemicals safely in a lockable area and secure when not in use
  • Do not store chemicals in food and/or drink containers and make sure they are correctly labelled.
  • Ensure that safety data sheets are available where hazardous chemicals are stored and used
  • Ensure staff who use chemical are suitable trained and understand the manufacturer’s instructions before use

4. Burns, scalds and cuts

Hospitality often involves some sort of food preparation and when cooking or handling hot food and kitchen equipment, employees need to always be vigilant of burn injuries to themselves or to others. Kitchen staff who are working long hours can become complacent when it comes to safety practices. It’s important to make sure the correct PPE is always used and proper care and attention is given to every task.

Burns can be very painful and may cause:

  • Red or peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

The best ways to treat a burn is following the advice below:

  • Immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop burning
  • Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes – Don’t use ice, iced water or ant creams.
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin.
  • Cover your burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on your hand.

5. Electrical

Electrical hazards are everywhere in business. A hospitality venue will be full of small and large electrical equipment which varying voltage supplies. The equipment poses a day-to-day occupational risk if not managed well to both staff and customers. If not maintained or used correctly, then serious harm is possible. 

Actions to reduce risk from electrical equipment:

  • Don’t overload extension devices and protect them wet conditions
  • Perform regular PAT testing on all items
  • Ensure staff only bring tested equipment onto the site for use
  • Conduct five-year fixed wire testing on time
  • Action facilities maintenance issues quickly
  • Conduct maintenance on bulk equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

6. Violence and abuse

Hospitality venues often operate late into the night and serve alcohol while hosting their guests. It’s important you are aware of the risks associated with this at all times and provide suitable training to staff who deal with the public. If an aggressive situation arises the consequences can vary from a heated discussion to physical violence, it’s important that are prepared to deal with every eventuality – over the course of a career in hospitality it’s very likely that staff will have to deal with several instances of abuse. 

7. Stress and other mental health issues

The hospitality sector is well-known for demanding long, hard hours of it’s workers. At times its possible that staff may be become overwhelmed by the workload, stress or the abuse they face in their role. Supporting staff with their mental health as well as their physic health is critically important. Mental health issues are often not as noticeable to others as physical issues and so extra care and attention is required in ensuring staff are mentally healthy. 

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