Bakeries

New Zealand’s baking scene is a growing sector and, as part of the wider hospitality sector, is one of the biggest employers in the country.

The vast majority of workers are part time and work weekends, and with high staff turnover, health and safety training can often be rushed or overlooked.

What are the risks?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), every business has a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that others are not put at risk by the work of the business (for example, customers, visitors, children and young people, or the general public).

First, you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

The following are examples of only some of the health and safety risks for people in the hospitality sector. We also provide general guidance on how to manage your work health and safety risks.

Knives, graters and other sharp kitchen tools can cause injuries. These need to be used with care to prevent cut and puncture injuries.

How are workers and others harmed?

Injuries from knives and other kitchen tools can happen to workers when:

  • using knives for purposes for which they were not designed for. (For example, opening bags or boxes)
  • sharpening knives or other blades
  • retrieving knives from storage areas
  • cleaning slicers and coming into contact with the edges of the blade
  • handling a blade unexpectedly (for example, when washing up)
  • coming into contact with knives placed blade-up in a dishwasher
  • handling damaged or broken glass and crockery
  • handling sharp-edged objects (for example, graters and vegetable peelers).

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Try to avoid using knives and outsource food preparation.
  • Ensure all slicing and sharpening machines have guards, and workers use them when operating equipment.
  • Ensure that equipment with blades is securely fixed to the bench.
  • Use bull nose knives rather than pointed-end knives where possible.
  • Provide a magnetic strip for knife storage.
  • Provide knives with handles that are appropriate to the job and comfortable to use.
  • Train all workers in the safe use and storage of knives.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling heavy loads can put workers at risk of serious injury.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers are at risk of injury from lifting and carrying particularly when:

  • a load is too heavy, it’s difficult to grasp, or it’s too large
  • the physical effort is too strenuous
  • they are regularly required to bend and twist when handling heavy loads.

When a person reaches for items above shoulder height, their back becomes arched and their arms act as long levers. This makes the load difficult to control and significantly increases the risk of injury.

Injuries and conditions can include:

  • muscle sprains and strains
  • injuries to muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs and other structures in the back
  • injuries to soft tissues such as nerves, ligaments and tendons in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs
  • abdominal hernias
  • chronic pain.

Some of these conditions are known as repetitive strain injury (RSI), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) and work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD).

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Use mechanical lifting aids or lifting equipment, and ensure they are used properly and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications.
  • Ensure café layout/design limits the need to push, pull or carry equipment or loads (for example, good path design, floor surfaces that allow goods to be moved directly to storage areas).
  • Position shelving and racking in storage areas at accessible heights.
  • Ensure service counters and food preparation surfaces are between hip and waist height.
  • Train workers in proper lifting techniques.
  • Order stock in smaller containers that are easier to store and lift.
  • Ensure workers are not exposed to repetitive or high impact work for long periods of time. Consider job sharing or job rotation.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Cluttered floor space, dropped food, and spills can put workers and customers at risk of slip, trip and fall injuries.

How are workers and others harmed?

When someone falls as a result of a slip or trip, the injury can range from minor (bruises and scrapes) to more serious, including broken bones or head trauma. How bad the injury is will depend on the circumstances.

Examples of how injuries can be caused include:

  • uneven or poorly maintained floor surfaces
  • slippery wet surfaces caused by water or other spilled substances
  • cluttered and confined work areas
  • poor lighting
  • wearing slippery footwear.

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. This might mean doing a job differently or making sure you have the right equipment for the job. Here are some examples:

  • Keep up-to-date housekeeping procedures.
  • Clean up spills as early as possible and display signage.
  • Stack materials neatly to keep walkways and production areas clear.
  • Use a degreasing solution on oil and grease spills.
  • Use slip-resistant floor coverings, and wear non-slip footwear.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

A common source of burns, scalds and heat stress are hot cooking surfaces, boiling liquids and high temperature levels at work.

How are workers and others affected?

Burns, scalds and heat stress – can be caused in a number of ways, including:

  • carrying hot objects, food or liquids
  • exposure to flames, splattering oil or steam
  • burns on hot surfaces like ovens and warming drawers
  • high radiant heat levels from ovens
  • high temperature levels in the bakery.

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Place warning signs or stickers near hot equipment or surfaces.
  • Cover equipment containing hot fat or fluids, when not in use.
  • Implement routine safety checks (for example, check that ovens and deep fryers are turned off before closing time).
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as heat resistant gloves and aprons.
  • Train workers in preferred techniques for handling hot items such as:
    • opening oven doors and lids of steam heated equipment away from the body
    • keeping saucepan or pot handles pointing away from the edge of a stove and make sure the handles are not over hotplates
    • using heat resistant gloves to pick up hot items in order to avoid scalding
    • remove all utensils from pans.
  • People working in hot environments need to ensure they have sufficient cooling methods, take regular breaks and stay hydrated.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Workers who breathe in large amounts of flour dust are at risk of developing lung disease.

How are workers and others affected?

Breathing in large amounts of flour dust is a risk to workers health, such as:

  • lung disease
  • breathing difficulties
  • asthma
  • nose, throat, and eye irritation
  • sensitisation through repeated exposure.

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Keep dust contained and controlled by making changes to the equipment used in your bakery set up or working methods.
  • Use dust extraction equipment to minimise dust getting in the operator’s breathing zone.
  • Vacuum cleaners must be designed for cleaning flour – blowing flour with compressed air will only move it elsewhere.
  • When exposure is minimised but not entirely controlled use appropriate respiratory and/or eye protection.
  • When exposure is minimised but not entirely controlled use appropriate eye protection.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Machinery in bakeries including dough mixers, dough brakes and dough dividers can create risks for workers if used incorrectly.

How are workers and others affected?

People could be harmed from:

  • unguarded machinery (for example, hands being cut or trapped between the mixer blade and bowl)
  • incorrect use of machinery or workers not trained on how to use machinery and equipment correctly
  • not wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • noise from loud machinery or equipment.

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Fix guards to prevent or reduce access to trapping points between paddles, beaters or ribbons, and the mixing bowl.
  • Ensure that guards are interlocked and operational.
  • Retrofit guards to older mixers to enable addition of ingredients during mixing if required.
  • Eliminate or minimise the risk of noise damaging workers hearing by:
  • Reducing noise at the source – Look at ways of quietening noisy machinery or equipment.
  • Stopping the noise from affecting everyone – Move noisy machinery away from other workers or put up a barrier to minimise the noise.
  • Reducing the time workers are exposed to noisy environments or tasks – Where possible swap workers between noisy and quiet jobs so that no one is exposed to noise for too long.
  • Wearing personal hearing protection – If noise exposure is still excessive after addressing the above control measures then individual protection like ear muffs or ear plugs should be worn.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

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