This article covers the safe use of solid fuel appliances – such as tandoori ovens, charcoal grills and wood-fired pizza ovens in commercial kitchens. It is concerned mainly with the risks associated with exposure to carbon monoxide gas. The risk to workers is well known but there have also been reports of carbon monoxide exposure involving members of the public. These cases involved exposure in domestic properties neighbouring commercial catering premises using solid fuel appliances. Following the advice in this information article will help caterers protect members of the public as well as their workers.
You should read it in conjunction with Ventilation of kitchens in catering establishments, which will help you assess whether your existing ventilation is adequate as well as providing you with advice on planning the ventilation specification for new or refurbished kitchens.
What the Law Says
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 The HSW Act places duties on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees and that of persons not in their employment, such as customers, who may be affected by their business. This means that both workers and members of the public must be protected from the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide gas, whether your business is in operation or not. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 These Regulations require that employers provide effective and suitable ventilation in every enclosed workplace. This includes kitchens which need ventilation to create a safe and comfortable working environment. Mechanical extraction, via a canopy hood installed over the cooking appliances, can remove the fumes and vapour created by cooking and discharge them to a safe location.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
COSHH applies in commercial kitchens where solid fuel catering appliances are used. The Regulations set out a number of requirements to ensure risk is either avoided or reduced to an acceptable level. Carbon monoxide gas has a workplace exposure limit (WEL) which must not be exceeded. When solid fuel is burned, products of combustion, including carbon monoxide gas, are released. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas with no taste, smell or colour. Moderate exposure can lead to serious permanent ill-health effects or death.
Children, pregnant women, smokers and people with heart or breathing problems are particularly at risk. The early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to common ailments such as flu or upset stomach, but can escalate very quickly. Symptoms can include: