COSHH and the catering industry - key messages

  • Having your hands wet for a long time or having them frequently wet during the day can irritate your skin leading to dermatitis.
  • Some foods and ingredients in cleaning products can cause skin allergies and asthma.
  • Cooking fumes contain oil mists, irritating substances, smoke and carbon monoxide from gas-fired equipment. While there is not any evidence for an increased risk of cancer from cooking fumes, some substances in the fumes can cause cancer.

There are simple things you can do to prevent ill health.

Preventing exposure to harmful substances usually means a combination of some of the following controls:

  • Use good work techniques that avoid or minimise contact with harmful substances and minimise leaks and spills. Store cleaning products safely.
  • Keep the workplace well ventilated.
  • For some tasks, you may also need to provide personal protective equipment like protective gloves, aprons and eye protection (gloves should be food grade for food handling tasks).
  • Practice good hand care – remove contamination promptly, wash hands properly, dry thoroughly and use skin creams regularly (these should be fragrance free and nut oil free to be food compatible).
  • Provide an extractor hood or canopy over cooking appliances.

The controls you need will depend on the task. Click the links below for more specific information.

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