Enforcement support for Inspectors visiting commercial catering premises where solid fuel appliances are used.
HSE’s Catering Information Sheet ‘Preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens’ is aimed at commercial caterers using solid fuel appliances.
It has been published to raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to carbon monoxide from solid fuel catering appliances, which can affect workers and members of the public.
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. Even moderate exposure can lead to serious permanent ill health effects or even death. Children, pregnant women and people with heart or breathing problems are particularly at risk.
This guidance compliments the catering information sheet and is aimed at inspectors visiting commercial catering establishments who may encounter solid fuel appliances. It provides support to inspectors in making proportionate enforcement decisions and advises when specialist support is likely to be required.
Consult this document when inspecting commercial premises where solid fuel catering appliances are in use. Read it in conjunction with Catering Information Sheet - ‘Preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens’ and 'Catering Information Sheet 10 – Ventilation in catering kitchens'.
When it comes to solid fuel appliances, you should be looking to satisfy yourself of the following;
The following, used in conjunction with the EMM, will help you determine what enforcement action is appropriate:
The risks from exposure to Carbon Monoxide (CO) are well known and duty holders must take reasonably practicable measures to prevent or control exposure to employees, customers and others, such as people in neighbouring properties.
While there have been a handful of high profile cases of CO exposure associated with the use of solid fuel appliances in commercial premises, there is currently no evidence that significant harm is being done to workers in the industry or customers as a result of using solid fuel appliances. The guidance for duty holders ‘Preventing exposure to Carbon Monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens’ is intended primarily to educate and Inspectors should, in the first instance, use it to promote safe working practices in an advisory capacity. Notwithstanding this, Local Authority inspectors may encounter poor practice, and in circumstances where there is evidence of exposure to individuals at levels of CO in excess of the WEL, take appropriate enforcement action, to safeguard persons.
If considering enforcement action, you will need to provide evidence of exposure to individuals rather than or in addition to CO levels measured solely using static sampling equipment. Levels of Carbon Monoxide can vary widely throughout a kitchen and exposure will partly depend on where people are working in relation to the appliance. Variations can also occur within a fixed area due to appliances being opened and closed and because of air movement.
For this reason, if you are thinking about taking enforcement action based on exposure to carbon monoxide you should seek specialist advice.
HSE does not expect Local Authorities to change their existing approach to targeting duty-holders or to enforcement of the relevant statutory provisions as a direct result of this guidance, Inspectors should refer to Local Authority Circular (LAC 67/2) for guidance on planning and targeting of interventions to enable the requirements of the National Local Authority Enforcement Code to be met.
While it is acknowledged that solid fuel appliances in the commercial sector form part of the list of higher risk activities appropriate for targeted proactive inspection, it should be noted that there may be more effective ways of reaching a wider audience. This could include holding seminars to promote the publication or providing awareness training as part of a SHAD covering other relevant topics. Local authorities will be best placed to know what manner of intervention is most beneficial in their area.
Some of the information contained in the guidance will be new to many duty-holders. A proportionate enforcement approach should recognise this. On the other hand, the release of the guidance should not prevent you from taking enforcement action that you would have taken anyway.
In the end, enforcement decisions rest with the enforcement officer, and matters of evident concern (MECs) should be dealt with in the usual way. MECs are defined as those that create a risk of serious personal injury or ill-health and which are observed (i.e. self-evident) or brought to the attention of Inspectors.
Local Authority discretion
Inspectors should seek specialist (Occupational Hygiene) support when taking enforcement decisions relating to exposure.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas and can, in certain concentrations cause serious health effects or death. It is highly unlikely that you would be unaware of dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide on arrival at a premises because of the effect on the workers. Notwithstanding this, you should not enter (or vacate) any premises that you believe to be unsafe.
‘Preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens’ is available in a number of languages. When inspecting premises where the dutyholder does not speak English or does not have English as a first language, direct them to, or provide a copy of the appropriate translation.
The principal legal requirements on exposure to hazardous substances such as CO are set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002. Employers providing solid fuel appliances for use at work have a duty to assess the risks of exposure from CO and to either avoid or reduce to an acceptable level. Carbon Monoxide gas has a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL), which must not be exceeded. Further information is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/
See also Catering Information Sheets:
Local Authority Unit