BigHospitality shares top tips from Mark Harrington, CEO at health and safety consultants Check Safety First, on what you should keep in mind when refurbishing your kitchen so you tick all health and safety boxes.
Problem: “We are currently refurbishing the kitchen in our hotel but we’re not big enough to employ a consultant to make sure we cover all bases and avoid pitfalls. I am particularly concerned that we meet all health and safety requirements. What do we need to include in our health and safety policy?”
Solution: Hoteliers are wholly responsible for the well-being of their guests and therefore should play an active role in liaising with suppliers to design a kitchen that takes into account all aspects of health and safety, regardless of whether you can afford the skills of a consultant.
The implications for hotels that don’t take this approach can be detrimental to their reputation and bottom line. A hotel’s image will be negatively affected if guests contract food poisoning because their meals have been prepared in a poorly designed and, as a consequence, unhygienic environment.
It’s important to work with experienced kitchen installers that understand not only the specification of kitchen equipment and appliances, but also HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) legislation. HACCP is a form of food safety management with a set of principles that are designed to prevent the spread of food safety hazards by identifying and monitoring the “critical points” of a kitchen. It is essential that the head chef and the hotel management are aware of these “critical points” and their safety requirements.
One of the major shortcomings of a kitchen design is that hoteliers fail to take the flow of food into consideration. It is important that every stage in the cooking process makes sense. For example, having the point of food delivery adjacent to the point of disposal may increase the chances of bugs being spread.
Space allocation may be a severe problem. In cities such as London, chefs often work in small, confined kitchen spaces. Often hoteliers approach the fitting of kitchens of this size like the completion of a jigsaw, moving equipment around to fit the space provided. When equipment is installed in this way, the flow of the kitchen may be disturbed, with convenience being prioritised ahead of health and safety issues. This approach can significantly increase the chance of cross-contamination, with different foods being squeezed into limited storage space.
Walk through the proposed layout of the kitchen with installers, making modifications to plans where appropriate to ensure that no unsafe compromises are made.
Lighting and ventilation
Ventilation and lighting are also important considerations that are frequently forgotten. It is vital that the kitchen maintains the correct temperatures and conditions for food storage and cooking.
Lighting can cause problems as unsuitable fittings can gather dust and broken bulbs may mean that glass is spread throughout the kitchen. It is important that the kitchen is well illuminated to ensure that staff can see that food is cooked correctly.
A further mistake made by hoteliers is a lack of common sense when designing the kitchen. For example, placing wash basins close to the entrance of the kitchen would make it difficult for staff to forget to wash their hands before they handle food. Basins are often seen as an afterthought and fitted in a place where they fit rather than where they’re needed.
In order to maintain the highest standards of health and safety, it is important that the hotel management take a meticulous approach to the refurbishment of a kitchen. When drawing up a health and safety policy, taking these aspects into account will ensure that the well-being of hotel guests is kept as a high priority.
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