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Safety alert – caustic chemicals in restaurants and cafés

Safety alert – caustic chemicals in restaurants and cafés (Last Updated On: February 7, 2017)

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.

Action required.

  • Create and maintain a hazardous chemical register
  • Conduct risk assessments of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace and put in place measures to control these risks as much as possible
  • Obtain safety data sheets for chemicals and ensure that these are readily available and easily accessible
  • Provide instruction, training and supervision on the safe use, storage and handling of chemicals, and educate workers on the procedure for managing spills, including wearing suitable gloves and chemical resistant footwear
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers and ensure that PPE is used
  • Ensure that injury and incident reporting and notification procedures are in place

If you do not currently receive our Work Health and Safety service, please contact us on 1300 651 415 or email [email protected] to find out more about our Work Health and Safety service and to add this service to complement your existing Employment Services.

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