CAUSES AND PREVENTION OF HAZARDS IN THE FOOD PREPARATION AREA
Occupation hazards constitute a major threat to an active workforce. Fricidences such as back pain, contact dermatis, fracture shoulder and wrist problem, cuts and burns and some of the ill-health and injuries suffered by people at work. Valueable man hours are lost from affected staff and in some severe cases, it may lead to permanent disability or death. People from all endeavours suffer or have experienced one form of hazard or another. The case is no different in the hospitality industry where most of the function require human efforts the kitchen in particular is required as the most dangerous section to work in, strenuous work condition and prolonged hours of work with inadequate rest periods all add up to present an uncomfortable and insecure work environment. There are various sizes and categories of catering operation most establishments have equipments unskilled to produce as much in order to meet consumer demand the drive in quite service operations in most system has further compounded the hazardous nature of duties considering that employees have to use these equipment in high customer turnover knives, choppers, mixers, mincers, food processors, ovens, strainers and cooking ranges all have inherent harzards from use.
Hazards do not just occur, but are influenced by other factors such as physical environment, poor lighting, ventilation, poor kitchen layout and workflow to happen. In the study of hazards, it has been observed as well that human factors such as loss of concentration haste, chimsy working procedure and not following user instruction all contribution to the incidence of hazards occurring. There is also the issue of poor hygiene which is capable of triggering food safety problem and an endangered work population. Establishment under the health and safety at work Act of 1974 are mandated to provide safety and welfare facilities that would make the workplace a say and healthy place for its employees. Assessments of hazardous areas of operations should be taken to eliminate or reduce and control the degree and incidence of these hazards. Other appropriate regulation specifying safety requirements in specific areas such as price and first aid have further been improve and commanded. Within the scope of this study, attempts shall be made to examine critically the causes and prevention of these hazards. Discussion shall feature areas of health and safety, kitchen planning and layout, work flow and other safety measures that can reduce hazards.
1.1 FOOD PREPARATION AREA
The food preparation area can be defined as where raw food partly or wholly processed food and hygienically preserved for customers consumption. The food preparation area has had interesting history from when kitchen were just a part of the house and coding experiences then were better imagined than experience. The sheer discomfort of having to cook in an enclosed part of the hour with smoke in one’s eyes, spillages on the floor and the poorly planned layout of all save early cooks quite a lot of discomfort to contend with. The issue of health and safety of the cook or the food were hardly prominent item.
However, with development and progress in technology, health hazards in the kitchen became important issues especially for companies that were more interested in quality service delivery through a health conscious workforce. It is believed that the legendary French cook Auguste Escoffier popularized health and safety in the kitchen throughout the world from the late 17th century in the hotels and restaurants where he worked. It was who created the kitchen bridgade system and pioneered major charges in the kitchen ranging from hygiene (kitchen, food and personal) to safety this partnership with Cesar Ritz built up a reputations of safety and comfort for guests who stayed at the savory and the Ritz hotels throughout the world.
Thoroughly planned kitchen have today become the trend both an individual and commercial residences which has further enhanced food preparation activities. However, it is not enough to have beautifully designed kitchen but also to have health conscious employees who take pride in their jobs and as such carryout their work with utmost care. Health hazards within the food preparation area are still common place and the health and safety executive show statistics that indicate that health hazards ranging from food safety to staff safety are still on the increase food brone illnesses from food contamination has a devastating effect on the business and every employer would want to prevent any foods safety incident that could cause the closure of the business or the deaths of a customer. Health and safety policies should be pivotal to the business operation and a continuous exercise aimed at reversing the hazards inherent in the operation. Hazards prone areas that should be treated with care include the work surface of the preparation area, equipments used for preparation and food handling practise. Other areas of consideration should also be the lighting, ventilation and drainage as well as waste disposal in the kitchen.
1.2 PLANNING AND LAYOUT
The planning and layout of a food preparation depends on the type of operation. Hotel kitchens tend to be layer and more organised with the partie system, fast-food outlets like quick service restaurants and pubs tend to have smaller kitchen but with lightly sophisticated equipment for quick cooking and high dependence on convenience foods. However, whatever the scope of operation a properly planned preparation area can contribute significantly to good food hygiene and prevention of health hazards. A well planned kitchen inbines a sense of pride with the staff which reflects in the entire kitchen operation.
Adequate work space should be provided for each process and effort must be made to separate dirty and clean processes. Vegetable preparation and washing areas should be separate from the actual food preparation and service areas. The layout must ensure a continuous work flow in one direction in order that cross-over of foods and any cross-contamination is avoided. Gossip of each workers path by staff should not be more than is absolutely necessary. Work surface areas should be adequate size for the preparation process and should be designed such that the food hundler has all equipments and utensils close at hand-kitchen are generally divided into section based on the processes and these are:
· X Dry Areas: for stores
· X Wet Areas: for first preparation, vegetable, butchery and cold preparation
· X Hot Areas: for boiling, poaching and steaming.
The size of a kitchen depends on the size of the establishment and its target market, and design of equipment based on the market. There are five types of kitchen layout to suit every operation.
1. Shaped Kitchen: The flexibility of this layout design makes it popular choice for firm that want work areas close to each other so that space can be maximized. Major equipment can be conveniently installed and the kitchen can be improved to create in island kitchens.
2. Shaped Kitchen: This kitchen is popular as it create self contained sections that discourages entry by non-author staff and can promote efficient working with distances reduced between work stations.
3. When planning the layout of a kitchen consideration needs to be given to adequate space for access to equipments the menu, quantity of meals, use of fresh or convenience foods and management policy. Above all the health and safety of workers that would work in the environment to adequate attain the objective of the management with a healthy.
4. Single Wall Kitchen: This arrangement offers a very open and airy feel to small premises. Equipments are sited along walls for easy use and travel distance is reduced.
5. Gallery Kitchen: This kitchen makes the most of a small space with not more than one cook in this layout, equipments are sited close to one another giving the cook ample space to maneuver. Occupational hazards in food preparation area The major area in hotels, restaurants, cafeteria and other food services outlet involved in on the job injuries and all health is the kitchen. Perhaps the most common hazards are cuts and bruises, ship and trips, back pan, burns and scalds and electrocution and fire. These hazards are constant threat to an effective operation and active kitchen staff. Attempts would be made to discuss some of these hazards in broader terms.
i. Cutz and Bruises: Cuts are injuries sustained from skin contact with sharp edges such as knives, open tin cans and broken pieces of glass items bruises are scratched from skin, contact with rough edges. Injuries sustained may either be major or minor depending on the degree of contact with the edge. Major injuries have been known to cause deep lacerations into the skin minor injuries if not well treated may result to an infection disease such as white flow from cut on the base a finger.
ii. Slips and Trips: Slips are falls from font contact with slippery floors or slipper objects such as oil spill on the floor skin of potato peel on the floor, trips are falls from obstruction with movement. An unclear gangway may cause a trip or an object on the floor not notice by the victim. Injuries could be either minor or major and may result in some other severe injuries such as burns and cuts.
iii. Back Pain: These ill health conditions are not new in food preparation area due to the manual handling nature of kitchen operations. Employees are constantly drifting or carry a bag of flour, fish, basket of tomato or some other heavy kitchen equipment. This ill-health is a cumulative effect of poor manual handling.
iv. Burns and Scalds: Burns are injuries from skin contact with diet surface or object and dry heat. Scalds are mainly sustained from skin contact with wet heat such as steam from cooking food. Burns are both minor when just contact with the liquid is made to save burns from deep contact such as hands dipping into oil or fire burning skin. Scalds are equally dangerous especially where steamers of different sizes are used. Steam inhalation through rare could be fatal of immediate medicare is not sought.
v. Electrocution: The misuse or unknown contact with naked electric cable can be an unpleasant experience injuries may not occur in most cases but death is inevitable if immediate help is not given.
vi. Fire: Fire outbreaks could cause severe damages to both human and property. Depending on the extent of contact may cause minor burns to even sever first degree burns which could also cause death.