Restaurant health and safety is in the spotlight, but what are the basics every food business needs to live by?
This guide lists the risks and responsibilities that all restaurant, catering and hospitality businesses should be aware of, as well as the health and safety arrangements you should have in place. There’s also information about the government’s coronavirus restaurant health and safety guidance.
All businesses should carry out a regular health and safety risk assessment. This involves looking at your business and identifying potential hazards that may affect staff or members of the public. Your restaurant risk assessment should tell you whether you’re doing enough to mitigate these risks.
Restaurants, food and takeaway businesses need a rigorous risk assessment process. The number of hazards in the workplace is almost endless – ovens and deep fat fryers all pose clear risks, but some are less obvious. For example, are steps clearly marked, particularly if they’re likely to be used by waiters carrying hot plates?
gov.uk currently highlights these responsibilities for food, catering and retail businesses:
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance and templates for businesses carrying out their first risk assessment. It includes standard layouts for risk assessments and health and safety in a kitchen policies, which you can fill in with the relevant information.
Alternatively, many restaurants and kitchens choose to hire a health and safety specialist with knowledge of the catering sector to carry out a risk assessment for them. This can be beneficial in the long term, as a professional with kitchen health and safety expertise can often point out hazards and risks you’ve missed.
Kitchen health and safety rules are in many cases common sense. It’s likely that you already run, or are planning to run, a safe restaurant. However, it’s important that you develop a comprehensive health and safety in catering and hospitality policy, which demonstrates how hazards and other issues need to be dealt with. You’ll also need to produce this policy for an inspector if (and when) the council decides to visit.
In the UK, food handlers don't have to hold a hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food. However, businesses dealing with food carry multiple responsibilities. From food safety to hygiene and inspections, the best place to start for guidance is gov.uk's food safety hub, as well as the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) business guidance.
Currently, employers are responsible for all staff hygiene training. This can be on-the-job and informal, or part of a structured programme, but ensuring it's in place and appropriate for your line of business is a legal requirement.
According to gov.uk, it’s very unlikely that someone can catch coronavirus from food. This is because it’s a respiratory illness, and not currently known to be transmitted from food or packaging.
That said, it makes sense to follow stringent health and safety practices and limit your business’ exposure to coronavirus as much as possible. Here’s guidance from gov.uk, with a coronavirus-specific health and safety restaurant checklist:
If you or any food handler has any of these symptoms, you should self-isolate:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s unlikely that an infected person will contaminate commercial goods. However, gov.uk advise:
You can find lots more guidance on gov.uk around social distancing in a food or catering workplace.
gov.uk have stressed that their guidance is general, should be treated as a guide, and applicable legislation will always prevail if there’s a conflict.
Restaurants and food businesses have unique requirements when it comes to insurance. The key policy to think about is public liability insurance.
Restaurants have been at the centre of a number of significant compensation claims recently. A single claim could cause you serious financial problems, so it’s important to consider public liability insurance, which covers your business if a member of the public gets injured or ill and blames you.
It’s likely that your business legally needs employers' liability insurance if it has at least one employee. It protects you if your staff gets ill or injured as a result of working for you.
Most employers are legally required to have at least £5 million of employers’ liability cover, or face a fine of up to £2,500 per day (although there are some exceptions). Simply Business lets you build a business insurance policy tailored to the needs of your restaurant and compare a range of quotes.
Are you concerned about restaurant health and safety? Let us know in the comments.
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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer
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