How safe is your office kitchen?
There can be quite a few dangers in a shared kitchen, ranging from radiation leakage to frayed cords, and hazards relating to the lethal combination of water and electricity.
When thinking about safety in the workplace, people often forget about the humble kitchen unless they’re running an operation with a commercial kitchen in which case kitchen safety is front and center. But in the average office, it’s not always considered as much as it should be in safety briefings for staff and in safety processes.
Here are some tips that can make your office kitchen safer.
Have appropriate fire equipment handy
In any business, there should be fire protection equipment close to the kitchen, so it is easily accessible in the event of a fire emergency in the kitchen. Accessible fire equipment should include a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket. Both should be kept in nominated positions and be clearly signed.
If you don’t already have a fire extinguisher in place next to your kitchen, then contact your local fire protection equipment provider for advice on what type of fire extinguisher needs to be installed. Jim’s Test & Tag can advise you and will provide a free quote and a risk assessment of your property.
Make sure your fire equipment has been tested
Make sure your fire equipment has been tested recently and is ready to go in the event of an emergency. It’s a mandatory requirement that Fire Extinguishers are tested every six months so if you can’t remember the last time your extinguisher was tested, then it’s probably due for its next test. Many businesses don’t realise they’re in breach of this safety guideline so if you’re one of them, now’s the chance to rectify it and get your safety equipment back on track.
The team at Jim’s Test & Tag can conduct thorough testing of your fire extinguisher appropriate to its testing history. Although fire extinguishers need to be tested every six months, additional tests are required annually and every five years. Jim’s Test & Tag technicians have been fully trained in fire safety as prescribed by AS/NZS 1851.
Your fire blanket should also be checked regularly and the team at Jim’s Test & Tag can help with this as well. If an incident requires you to use the fire blanket, don’t fold it up and put it away. Once it’s been used, it needs to be checked by a professional, even if it doesn’t appear to have any external damage.
Be aware of other dangers
One of the primary accidents that can happen in an office kitchen is burns, which even if minor, may require first aid treatment. Burns can happen from a variety of appliances – toasters, hotplates, and even the steam from a kettle can give a nasty burn. It’s worth making sure that your first aid kit is equipped to deal with burns and also checking that the first aid kit is easily accessible from the office kitchen. Jim’s Test & Tag also supplies first aid kits and can advise you on the most appropriate first aid kit for your business.
Many people don’t realise that radiation leaks can be a safety issue in your office kitchen and the item that can cause these issues is the microwave. Microwave ovens are so called because they’re powered by microwaves that vibrate to heat up food by heating up the water content in the food.
But over time, this radiation can start to leak from the microwave. Microwaves in office kitchens are particularly susceptible to this problem because they’re often appliances that were designed for domestic use and really get put through their paces in many offices. They’re used multiple times a day, by different people, generally not cleaned thoroughly enough, and basically, not looked after and maintained as they should be.
A real clue that your microwave may have a leakage issue is if the door seals around the edges of the microwave door are damaged or decaying. Faulty door seals are the leading cause of radiation leakage. The team at Jim’s Test & Tag can conduct microwave leakage testing for you and advise if your microwave is safe to use. If it fails the leakage test, it may be able to be repaired and if not, you’ll need a new microwave.
If someone in your office feels dizzy or faint after using the microwave, then it may be a result of a radiation leak from the microwave. In that situation, move them away from the area and call 000 to get advice on whether they need urgent medical attention. Microwave radiation leaks can be a particular issue for people with pacemakers.
There’s a lot of water in a kitchen and occasionally you’ll end up with water on the floor, such as from the fridge. If you do have water leaking from your fridge, that’s a sign that it probably needs maintenance, and you should get a refrigerator expert to check it out for you. If you have water on the floor, get it cleaned up immediately and block off the area, ideally with a yellow cleaning sign that indicates there is a slippage risk.
Get your portable appliances tested regularly
The office kitchen is full of portable appliances from sandwich makers and toasters through to kettles and the microwave. They all need to be tested regularly to ensure that they’re safe to use and that they don’t pose an electrical risk in the workplace.
In an office environment, appliances such as these need to be tested every 12 months.
The team at Jim’s Test & Tag can test all your office electrical equipment, not just the appliances in the office kitchen. They provide a free quote and can test and tag all the appliances on your site.
Be sensible around electricity
Basic electrical safety rules apply just as much in the office as they do at home. Don’t put a metal object into the toaster. Don’t stand in water while you’re using an electrical appliance and do make sure that your safety switches are regularly tested.
Safety switches are an important part of your office’s electrical safety. They work to instantaneously cut off electricity if the circuit is disrupted because it’s moving through another item – such as the human body. If one of your staff sticks a knife into a toaster, the safety switch should kick in and cut off electricity to the appliance avoiding electric shock or even electrocution.
But don’t rely on the backup plan – being safe around electricity is the best way to be. Safety switches can be manually tested with a push button test. But some offices don’t have safety switches attached to all their circuits, so it’s worth getting an expert such as Jim’s Test & Tag to check that you have enough safety switches for your business. Phone 13 15 46 for more information on testing and tagging procedures for your office.
Make sure you have safety processes in place
As with many things, communication is everything. Briefing new staff on your safety processes should be an essential part of their onboarding. Regular fire drills and evacuation drills should also be a routine part of your safety procedures. Nominate a fire warden for every area of your business and don’t forget to have a few backup wardens so that there’s still coverage for every area of your business if one of your fire wardens is away for the day.