Catering, hotels and hospitality

Electrical Safety in Catering, Hotels and Hospitality

According to the Health and Safety Executive two main types of accidents within the catering and hospitality industry are electrical injury and fire and explosion, and a major underlying cause of accidents is poor standards of maintenance. Calbarrie’s Tim Beardsmore describes to Tomorrow’s FM the measures that duty holders can take to reduce the risk of accidents from electrical faults.

Accidents from poor maintenance involve not only equipment but also the fittings of the building. The HSE states that faults in plugs or cables and poor maintenance of heated food trolleys are common factors within catering facilities leading to accidents. Faulty electrical equipment and overloading of electrical circuits also present a common fire hazard in any commercial premises.

However, regular testing and inspection of the condition of electrical equipment and installations by a skilled engineer will help ensure that facilities remain safe and compliant. A comprehensive risk assessment and site survey carried out by a skilled person will identify the scope of inspection and testing required and recommendations for improvements to safety, reliability and efficiency.

Routine checks of electrical accessories, cables and appliances for obvious visible wear and tear or damage can be carried out by an instructed person, whilst a skilled person is required to carry out all routine planned maintenance of equipment, periodic inspection and testing and any urgent repairs.

Frequency of inspections and servicing varies depending on the equipment, its use and the environment in which it is used. For instance, the HSE’s recommendation for portable electrical appliances (excluding high risk areas such as kitchens) is for combined inspection and testing by an electrically skilled person to be carried out every one to five years. Because of the more demanding environment, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) recommends more frequent inspections for catering equipment in kitchens with formal visual inspection and combined inspection and test required every 12 months. Guidance on buildings open to the public such as hotels, restaurants, and public houses in BS 7671 Wiring Regulations 18th Edition: 2018 says that routine checks of electrical installations should be every year and formal periodic inspection and testing at least every five years.

The regulations refer to particular requirements for sleeping accommodation and ‘special and specific installations’ such as locations containing a bath or shower, rooms and cabins containing sauna heaters, swimming pools and other basins such as fountains and some outdoor lighting and installations. Temporary electrical installations such as in exhibitions and shows and temporary structures – amusement devices and booths at fairgrounds and amusement parks for example – should be inspected and tested after each assembly on site.

One of the challenges faced by duty holders of facilities within the sector when planning a maintenance programme is access and this is why some businesses opt for inspection and testing out of hours. However in hotels where services are operational round the clock dynamic scheduling of maintenance visits to coincide with cleaning times will minimise disruption.

More information on the frequency of checks and formal inspection and testing is available from the IET and HSE. Further advice on equipment maintenance for people working in commercial kitchens, hotels, restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, pubs and clubs and those working as contract caterers to other industries is also available from the HSE.

Read our full article in Tomorrow’s FM March edition.


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