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Key Steps to Reduce Electrical Hazards in Commercial Kitchens Using Electrical Interlocking Systems

Understanding the electrical interlocking systems and the ways they reduce the chances of electrical hazards inside your workplace is something that every responsible restaurant owner must know. Electrical hazards have a big role in many incidents that take place inside the kitchen so it’s good to find out what causes them.

It’s very easy to neglect safety tips related to electricity. Who cares if the microwave is making weird noises or the outlet is a bit close to the sink? Understanding the dangers inside your kitchen is the first step in electrical hazard prevention, removing the threat and preventing a disaster.

In this blog, we try to discuss the safety matters related to electricity, as well as provide information about electrical interlocking systems and how it is used inside a commercial kitchen and a restaurant. The first step is to learn what are the threats inside a kitchen.

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Understanding Electrical Hazards in Commercial Kitchens

First things first, what puts me, my employees, and my assets in danger? Finding the source of potential danger is the first step in electrical hazard prevention, finding ways to counter potential risks and avoid them in the future. Here are some steps to ensure electrical safety in kitchens.

Power Sockets Near Wet Area

First and foremost, electricity and water don’t mix. Unfortunately, many owners don’t take this as seriously as they should and they always end up paying a price. The price could range from a power outage to a fire hazard and critical injuries. One of the factors in risk mitigation in kitchens is to avoid taking them!

Leaving Appliances Running When Closed

It’s not just the electricity bill you have to be worried about. Leaving electric equipment on may not seem very dangerous at first but aside from the devices themselves malfunctioning sooner because of overwork, you can’t prevent a spark from turning into a fire when you’re not there.

Check for Visual Damage to Appliances

Even a small bump in the cord counts. Since the damage is not calculatable by just the visuals, you have to dig a bit deeper to find the root of the problem. A small bump means faulty wires and faulty wires lead to bad voltages. It either heats up to turn into a fire or completely ruins the electronic board inside.

Don’t Overload the Power Cords and Power Boards

I’m talking about piggybacking here. No, it’s not smart and efficient to connect multiple power boards to create the ultimate power source. Doing this leads to a disaster since the pressure on the primary power boards becomes too much to handle. Following this rule is one of the top electrical safety measures in commercial kitchens.

Keep The Kitchen Clean

Reduce the humidity by cleaning the range hood and trying to get the dust off of the appliances. This makes sure that they are always running in top shape. Try not to leave puddles or ignore wet areas since they are the main culprit when it comes to electrical hazards.

Introduction to Electrical Interlocking Systems

Many of you reading this may not be familiar with this term. What are electrical interlocking systems and why are they useful? To put it in simple terms, interlocking devices for kitchen safety allow better control over appliances and prevent hazards by reducing the chances of accidents from happening.

How do Electrical Interlocking Systems Work?

Try steering the wheel without the key in the ignition. It is impossible since electrical interlocking systems prevent the wheel from steering unless the key is inside. This is the simplest example of interlocking that I can think of. You have to pass certain restrictions to trigger a function.

An interlocking system creates an environment in which there are prerequisites. Unless these conditions are met, an action will not simply happen. Perfect for industrial settings where people work simultaneously with tools and equipment. Let’s introduce some interlocking mechanisms for kitchen hazards.

Importance of Electrical Interlocking in Commercial Kitchens

As we mentioned, many industries already use electrical interlocking systems to reduce threats and accidents. The food industry is not an exception. Whether working inside a food truck or a huge kitchen, electrical interlocking systems are sure to benefit you and your assets in several ways.

How to Apply Electrical Interlocking Systems Inside a Kitchen?

Before you even try to implement this system inside your kitchen, you have to realize that much of the equipment we have today already has this system built inside. The microwave’s door has to close before you can turn it on. Fortunately, modern pieces of equipment always add a safety measure to their design.

Implementing interlocking systems in commercial kitchens allows the staff to always stay one step ahead when it comes to hazard prevention. They create a more relaxed working environment as well, since accidents are far less likely to happen and there is more room for small mistakes.

When it comes to commercial kitchens, there should always be more strict safety measures for the safety of the personnel. Ventilation electrical interlock systems, kitchen hood electrical interlock systems, and even gas electrical interlock systems are necessary to ensure maximum safety for all staff.

Ventilation Electrical Interlock Systems

This system usually connects to multiple fans and uses its sensors to monitor the pressure of gas in the facility. When the fire suppression system is activated, the system turns on and sounds an alarm. At the same time, interlock systems for electrical hazards can be programmed into it to shut off all electrical appliances.

Kitchen Hood Electrical Interlock Systems

In the event of a fire under the kitchen hood, the make-up air needs to be deactivated. This stops the airflow and removes the fuel for the fire. The hood exhaust fan should also be activated to stop the fire from spreading, and appliances have to be turned off for electrical hazard prevention.

Electrical interlock systems carry a microprocessor that can connect to other fire suppression systems, alarm systems, and even appliances. This allows the system to be activated when sensing too much heat under the kitchen hood and can act as one of the safety interlocks in commercial kitchens.

Gas Interlock Systems

The gas electrical interlocks for safe kitchen operations monitor the airflow inside the kitchen with their sensor. They can also detect the function of the fans and duct systems and check if they are performing well. If everything is in order, the system allows the flow of the gas to the appliances.

The sensors detect carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which can seriously harm the employees’ health if they build up. In this scenario, the system turns off the gas flow to the appliances and also prevents explosions caused by built-up gas.

These examples were only some of the interlocking solutions for kitchen safety. Commercial kitchens are busy areas with the danger hiding in every corner, making sure you are prepared is the best way to counter these hazards.

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Conducting a Comprehensive Risk Assessment

Kitchen risk assessment is the recipe for safety. It’s a step-by-step guide for risk mitigation in kitchens, finding and controlling dangers that can harm your staff in a busy area like a commercial kitchen. it’s concerned with lowering the risk and creating a safe and healthy environment for everyone.

A spilled dash of oil, poorly maintained appliances, or just a misplaced knife has the potential to escalate into a disaster. This is the reason why comprehensive risk assessment is important to keep your culinary space safe. It’s not just a suggestion either. Risk assessment is a legal necessity for commercial kitchens

Risk Assessment Requirements

The Health and Safety Work Act (HSWA) (1974), states that every business is required to perform regular risk assessments to guarantee that safety and health risks are properly managed. Not just on paper either. Every serious risk has to be managed under the supervision of a competent employee. Here are some responsibilities.

·         Identification and assessment of potential hazards inside the workplace

·         Applying safety measures to avoid future accidents and injuries

·         Employees have to learn proper safety procedures

·         Performing regular audits and inspections to stay updated with safety regulations

·         Investigating any accidents or near misses and reporting them

·         Continuing to improve safety practices by receiving feedback and evaluation

Appointing a competent employee to manage safety, creates a safer and healthier work environment for all the staff and everyone involved. A huge part of all these safety precautions is to ensure the food has been prepared in a safe and clean space by a reputable caterer.

Steps in Performing a Kitchen Risk Assessment

Now that we are familiar with the benefits and the significance of performing health checks and risk assessments. Let’s talk about how we can conduct these inspections and what steps we need to take to ensure a successful assessment.

Identifying Kitchen Hazards

The first step is always identification. Finding potential hazards with a walkthrough of the kitchen. inspection of every corner, all equipment, and every process to find possible risks. Conducting a hazard analysis is beneficial at this stage. Try using a risk assessment checklist or a template.

Try consulting with the staff as well. Those who work in the kitchen every day have firsthand experience with daily operations and possible risks. This can provide valuable knowledge and greatly improve your risk assessment.

Evaluating risks

After identifying potential risks, the next stage is to assess the risks of each hazard. This includes assessing the possibility of each hazard happening, the amount of damage it can do, and how severe it is. Most importantly, how can we reduce the chances or eliminate this risk?

After possible hazards have been found, the next step is assessing the risks of each hazard. This involves assessing the likelihood of each hazard occurring and the severity of the potential harm it could cause.

Implementing controls

Now that we are done with the identification and evaluation of the risks, we can implement effective controls to reduce or even eliminate the risks. This process can involve changing the equipment, and procedures, training the employees on new safety practices, or even changing the layout of the kitchen.

It’s important to let the staff know of these changes and communicate with them to receive valuable feedback. This allows us to make sure everyone is on the same page and aware of the changes or new regulations.

Monitoring and reviewing the process

The last and possibly the most important stage in risk assessment is monitoring and reviewing. Putting controls in place is not enough. You have to monitor their function to make sure they stay effective and keep up to date with the changes inside the kitchen.

Keep an eye on new equipment, changes in procedures or staff, and anything else that may impact the safety of the kitchen. you have to make sure that the risk assessment is a continuous document that changes and evolves the intended kitchen for better electrical hazard prevention.

Emergency Response Planning for Electrical Hazards

According to the National Library of Medicine, electrical shocks are responsible for almost 1000 deaths every year in the United States. Also, 30,000 non-lethal shock accidents occur each year. Taking steps in preventing electrical accidents in kitchens is not enough, you should know how to handle a disaster too.

Why Do You Need an Emergency Response Plan?

If electrical hazard reduction techniques fail and an incident occurs, the response needs to be fast to avoid escalation. By having a plan, you take quick action and decrease the severity of the injury and damage to the assets while also increasing the resilience for future incidents.

Immediate Actions in the Event of an Electric Shock

There are several steps to take in an emergency response plan when someone has experienced an electric shock. All staff should be trained to take the following basic steps.

·         Do not immediately touch the person

·         Find the source of the shock and turn off the electricity

·         If it’s not possible to turn off the power use a wooden or plastic object to move the person

·         Call the emergency services immediately

·         Approach the person to check if they’re breathing and their pulse

·         If the power is off and the person is away from the source, perform chest compressions

·         Barricade the place and don’t let unauthorized people enter

Document and report electrical hazards. It helps you identify the reason for the incident and allows you to take steps to prevent future incidents.

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Commercial kitchen safety is the top priority of our work here at NFP. Keeping up with the latest standards and making sure everything is in top shape condition can become overwhelming as work starts to pile up and we are here to help with that.

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