Safe work procedures
Safe work procedures are directions on how work is to be carried out safely and are required for all hazardous tasks performed at your workplace. They identify hazards and clarify what must be done to eliminate or minimise risks. For example, you may need to develop procedures for handling cash or disposing of hot oil.
When do I need written safe work procedures?
Not all tasks require a written safe work procedure. It may be sufficient to address safety issues verbally when training workers. To decide whether or not a written procedure is required, consider how:
- how severe would the consequences of an accident be
- how often is the task done
- how complex is the task?
In general, written safe work procedures are needed for:
- hazardous tasks
- complicated tasks, so that important steps don't get missed
- frequently performed tasks
- less routine tasks, if workers need reminders about the hazards and how to control the risks.
What kind of tasks requires safe work procedures?
Examples of common tasks in the hospitality industry that may require written safe work procedures include:
- disposing of hot oil
- handling garbage
- cleaning up blood and other body fluids
- cleaning bathrooms, ovens, or swimming pools
- turning mattresses.
- Ideally you should prepare written safe work procedures for all identified hazards. The examples common to most hospitality small businesses include:
- locking out equipment
- preventing workplace violence
- working alone or in isolation
- cleaning up chemical spills
- cleaning up biological materials
- conducting an emergency evacuation.
Post the procedures prominently at the locations where the tasks are performed or next to the equipment used for the tasks. Supervisors and managers will find them helpful in training workers how are to do their jobs safely. Workers are then responsible for following the procedures.
Written safe work procedures help eliminate or minimise the risks of hazardous tasks.
Specify personal protective equipment
Written safe work procedures must list any required personal protective equipment, when it must be used, and where workers can find it. Certain tasks require the use of more than one type of personal protective equipment.
For example, workers may need to dilute concentrated, corrosive chemicals such as cleaning agents before using them. Personal protective equipment required for this task may include face and eye protection such as goggles or face shields, as well as skin protection such as rubber gloves.
To determine the appropriate type of personal protective equipment, check the safety data sheet for the product.
How do I develop written safe work procedures?
The process of developing a written safe work procedure for a hazardous task has four steps.
- Determine the overall task that requires a safe work procedure.
- Break down the task into its basic steps.
- Identify the hazards associated with each step, and ways to eliminate or minimise the risks to workers from these hazards.
- Write the safe work procedure, for example the list of actions that workers must do when performing the task.
Below is an example and description of how to develop a safe work procedure for cleaning a deep fat fryer, a common hazardous activity in kitchens.
Determine the overall task
The overall task can be stated as 'Drain the oil from the deep fat fryer and transfer it into the oil dump drum for disposal'.
Break down the task into basic steps
The basic steps are:
- draining the oil from the deep fat fryer into a container
- transporting the oil through the kitchen and out to the oil dump drum
- transferring the oil from the container into the oil dump drum.
- Identify hazards and risk control methods
The table below summarises the hazards associated with each of the basic steps and suggests ways to control risks.
|Basic step||Hazards||Risk control measures|
|Cool the oil in the deep fat fryer.||Oil in deep fat fryers is very hot (approximately 180°C or 350°F when cooking). The hotter the oil being drained, the greater the risk of burns.|
|Drain the oil from the deep fat fryer into a container.||The oil can splash or spill onto the worker who is draining it.|
|Drain the oil from the deep fat fryer into a container.||Warm oil can warp plastic containers and cause them to give way.|
|Transport the oil through the kitchen and out to the oil dump drum.||Warm oil can spill and cause burns.|
|Transport the oil through the kitchen and out to the oil dump drum.||The weight of the container can increase the risks of spilling and over exertion.|
|Transfer the oil from the container into the oil dump drum.||The oil can splash or spill onto the worker who is draining it.|
Example safe work procedure for cleaning a deep fat fryer
Wear the following personal protective equipment during all steps:
- goggles and face shield
- elbow length rubberised gloves
- rubberised apron long enough to cover your lower legs
- non-slip, close toed shoes.
Draining the hot oil from the deep fat fryer into a container:
- Allow the oil to cool as much as possible before removing it from the deep fat fryer. Turn off the fryer three hours ahead of time.
- Use the designated metal container marked 'For hot oil use' as it has a metal lid, a handle at the base, and is fitted with clasps.
- Ensure that the container is dry.
- Fit a hose to the drain spout of the fryer and carefully direct the oil into the container.
Transporting the oil through the kitchen and out to the oil dump drum:
- Make sure aisles and pathways are clear of tripping hazards and that the outdoor path to the drum is not slippery.
- Make sure the container is closed properly.
- Use a dolly to move the container and make sure the container is securely fastened.
Transferring the oil from the container to the oil dump drum:
- Check that your personal protective equipment is properly adjusted to protect you from spills or splashes
- Grasp the handle at the base of the container as you pour the oil into the drum.
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