Extract taken from 'Starting Your Own Sandwich Shop' - Andrew Johnson
Health and safety in your sandwich shop
The onus is on you
As the owner of the business you are responsible for the health and safety off your staff and for customers whilst they are on your premises. The safety of any visitors including suppliers, salesmen and council employees is also down to you. This would even include tradespeople working on your behalf.
You have to ensure that staff are properly trained to use the equipment they will encounter on a daily basis, that they adhere to the safety systems you put in place. If there is an emergency, everyone should know how to handle it. If you are out visiting a supplier and an employee has a nasty accident, you need to know that your staff will be able to cope.
Carrying out a risk assessment
Mostly common sense
You know your business better than anyone, from the very beginning during the planning and equipping stages, you will have seen areas that could prove potentially hazardous. It is important that you keep a written record of this hazard analysis and that you put systems in place to prevent injury or accidents from occurring. Fortunately carrying out a risk assessment mostly involves common sense. For example ensuring staff are trained in oven safety, or that deliveries are packed away promptly to prevent people tripping up.
Do not overlook the obvious. You must never assume that just because you have common sense that everyone else has it as well.
We employed a student to help out temporarily during a particularly busy period. I noticed one morning that after he washed his hands ready to start baking baguettes, he didn’t dry them just shook them off . He then switched on the oven from the wall socket, not at all bothered about the possibility of electric shock.
When I asked him if he knew about the dangers of operating electrical equipment with wet hands, he was genuinely surprised. There followed a crash course in basic electrical safety.
I have no idea how many times he touched that switch with wet hands, but water conducts electricity, and it can kill. It’s very easy to forget about the dangers, but complacency can and does injure a lot of people every year.
This falls into two areas. Training that covers everything specific to your business, such as using a bake off oven, operating a dough mixer, the correct way to cut tomatoes, and a host of other shop specific tasks. Employees also need to be aware of legal regulations and safe practise in the workplace. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) publish a very useful poster called ‘Health and Safety Law – What You Should Know’ this should be stuck on a wall so that all staff members can read it.
The safest way to make sure everyone knows what they need to know is by putting all the information into a staff training manual. This may seem tedious, but you only have to do it once and it can be updated when necessary. You cannot rely on existing staff members to train new recruits; it is solely your responsibility.
There are two further benefits to a written training document. The very act of putting pen to paper ( or more realistically finger to keyboard ) may encourage other thoughts to spring to mind which are important, and should be in the manual. Secondly, if there is ever a situation where an injured employee sues you, then a written training manual would help to prove you are a responsible employer.
The role of the Health and Safety Executive
The health and safety executive is entrusted with the task of ensuring the safety of all workers, including the boss. Sometimes this noble body gets bad press because of rules and regulations that may seem petty. But you have to remember that a large part of their job is preventative, to spot potential problems before they occur. Mostly, responsibilities to your staff cover everyday situations and are little more than common sense.
- Providing comfortable working conditions – adequate heating and lighting for example
- somewhere for employees to take a break
- A book for reporting accidents or injuries.
- Providing clean toilet facilities
- Ensuring a clean supply of drinking water.
RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations )
This is a government body concerned with accidents, injuries, death or disease that occur in the workplace. By law you have to report serious incidents to them. This can be done through your local Environmental Health Department, which usually controls the HSE. Or you can report it online at www.riddor.gov.uk even if you as the owner are seriously ill, you have to report it. What constitutes a serious illness is outlined on the RIDDOR website.
Also worth noting is that if a staff member is away for three consecutive days with an injury that is ‘not major’ but which prevents them carrying out their normal duties, then that has to be reported.
All this submitted information is collated countrywide, to check for trends, or areas that may need investigation.
Officers from the HSE have the right to visit any business without warning. If they encounter problem areas they will supply you with a written report and advise you to effect a solution within a given time frame.
Realistically, you cannot know all the rules and regulations, but you don’t need to. Most of what the HSE is about boils down to common sense. The special poster they print for the workplace ‘Health and Safety Law – What You Should Know’ must be displayed in a prominent position so that all staff can read it. Other publications are available and details can be found on their website.