Safety alert – caustic chemicals in restaurants and cafés
SafeWork NSW recently issued a safety alert reminding restaurant and café operators about the hazards associated with working with caustic chemicals and of their duty to inform workers and protect them from harm.
Caustic chemicals are commonly used in cafés and restaurants and can be found in automatic dishwashing machine detergents, oven and grill top cleaners, and some grease cleaners.
The safety alert was made following investigations by SafeWork NSW into two similar incidents which involved workers suffering severe chemical burns to their feet whilst cleaning up spills in kitchens. The injured workers were not aware that the spills they were cleaning up were caustic liquids and were not wearing appropriate footwear. The chemical absorbed into their footwear and socks and the workers discovered their burn injuries only when they removed their footwear.
In the safety alert, SafeWork NSW lists some contributing factors and actions required to reduce the incidence of burns from caustic chemicals. Employers should be aware of the actions they can take to reduce the risk to workers’ safety when dealing with caustic chemicals.
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