Top 10 Hazards in a commercial kitchen

Whether you are a business owner, chef or kitchen assistant, it is important to understand the risks and hazards associated with commercial kitchens.

Hazards exist in all workplaces and commercial facilities – in every industry. In fact, workplace injuries are far more common than one might think, especially in the kitchen.

Common injuries include fractures, open wounds, burns and cuts; with young, usually inexperienced staff being most at risk.

Workplace safety is essential and the key to avoiding injuries and mitigating risks is understanding the hazards that are at play.

Here are our top 10 hazards in a commercial kitchen:

Food Hazards

Fundamentally, food hazards are perhaps that the biggest risk associated with commercial kitchens, as the spread of bacteria and viruses can lead to a deadly chain reaction of sick staff and customers.

From improperly stored food to the dangers of bacteria, employees need to be educated on the correct practices and processes when dealing with food items.


In terms of the equipment used, knives are the most dangerous, with injury to the hands and fingers being the most common commercial kitchen accidents.

The main hazards usually come from improper use, using the wrong knives or dull blades.

With knives, it is critical to keep them maintained and sharp, and stored safely. Employees should avoid conversation when using sharp equipment, and should always hold blades downwards when carrying and moving them.

Ensure all staff are trained to use knives correctly to reduce cuts and slices.


Much like knives, commercial kitchen machinery and equipment comes with a high risk of cutting, slicing and sawing.

Mitigating the risk follows the same principles.

Firstly, all machinery needs to be maintained. Secondly, all staff need to be trained on the correct practices.


Boiling water, scolding oils, scorching flames, hot pots and pans; burn hazards are prevalent throughout commercial kitchens.

Further hazards can come from flames, electricity, chemicals, and as any kitchen staff may be aware, steam.

Injuries can vary from third-degree to first degree burns, with third-degree burns being the most serious. 

Again, the key to mitigating risks is understanding. Diminish and reduce the risk of injuries with the necessary equipment and training, and avoid hazards by fire safety plans.

Fire Hazards

Slightly different to burn dangers, fire hazards relate to the risk of a fire starting in the kitchen.

Fires can be deadly to both employees and customers, and are highly damaging to businesses, premises and the contents inside.

Primary sources of fire hazards come from: flames, gas, electrical issues, grills, hot plates, ovens, fryers and heaters. With faulty equipment and thermostats, inadequate training, and mismanagement being leading causes of accidents.

As with burn hazards, staff must be fully trained, and efficient fire safety strategies are put in place.

Electric Shock

It may or may not come as a surprise that electric shocks are a real hazard in a commercial kitchen.

This is due to the number of electrical equipment in use at any given time, paired with the common risk of slips and wet surfaces.

Risks include plugging in equipment with wet hands, faulty wiring, and defectives appliances.

Employees must report any issues to management or health & safety officers.


Working with potentially dangerous substances is a daily part of kitchen work-life.

There are many chemicals that can cause injury or harm, from food poisoning to cleaning materials.

Make sure employees know of all the different types of chemicals, and ensure all bottles are marked correctly and properly stored.

Gloves are also extremely important in this regard.

Slips and Trips

It is easy to fall in a commercial kitchen, especially when encountering slippery floors.

Common causes of slips and trips include: wet floors, uneven surfaces, lack of concentration, crowded work areas, obstructions and steps.

The best way to avoid fall hazards is to report and monitor any potential risks, clean spills immediately, use cautionary signage, keep walkways clear and installing non-slip floor coverings. Overcrowding

Overcrowded workspace risks are high in kitchens, and by this, we don’t just mean too many employees in one place.

Overcrowding can come from the congestion of stationary objects, such as equipment and fixtures, and can lead to impact injures, as well as slips and trips.

Lifting Injuries

From carrying heavy stock and handling food orders, to completing deliveries and moving crates, lifting injuries are a serious risk in kitchen environments.

Accidents are usually caused by overextension, overexertion or repetitive incorrect action – with the most common injury being muscle strain.

Ensure employees know how to correctly lift and keep good posture, and make them aware of the risks.

In Conclusion

There are many hazards present in commercial kitchens.

The most powerful way to combat risks and issues is education.

Ensure all staff are trained and aware of the risks, and furthermore, make sure all equipment is maintained to a high standard.

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Launching a hotline to help our clients when reopening

Our hotline for help and advice is: 01792 310255.

As restaurants, pubs and other catering facilities start to reopen following a lengthy period of closure, experts are warning of the potential hidden dangers of using certain equipment after a lengthy break, while suggesting owners should also check if key accreditations and certifications remain valid.

Owners and managers reopening facilities after an enforced period of closure should diligently check and test equipment. To help our clients manage this challenge, we have launched a hotline that companies can call to check if certain types of equipment need to be checked and seek advice about the correct procedure to restart it.

We have launched our helpline with the specific aim of helping companies struggling to ensure their operations are able to reopen safely and efficiently. Specific equipment such as combination ovens, microwave ovens, refrigerators including walk-in units, ice machines, dishwashers, bar equipment and coffee machines should ideally be checked and tested before use.

Equally, gas kit may have perished seals, ice machines and wash ware can develop harmful bacteria and many types of equipment require maintenance checks after a period of inaction. These include gas interlock systems and extraction canopies.

The advice comes on top of the many other adjustments that owners will need to make, due to restrictions on trading relating to social distancing measures and hygiene. But the importance of cleaning, checking, maintaining and restarting equipment should not be understated.

Equally, the down period in the operations of many businesses may also have led to gaps and oversights emerging in the necessary training and accreditation. Just some of the key certifications required by most catering operations include a CP42 Gas Safety Certificate and suitable training or accreditations around food hygiene standards.

Our hotline for help and advice is: 01792 310255. A helpful guide detailing a checklist for reopening premises is also available on the Food Standards Agency website and can be found here. A booklet has also been designed by CEDA in conjunction with service partners and distributors to give a guide to reopening kitchens after shut down, which can be found here.

Kyle James, our Compliance and Installation Manager, said:

“Commercial catering operations have endured an incredibly challenging period. But as they start to reopen, we want to ensure they avoid some of the hidden dangers that can exist when using equipment that has been dormant for a long period of time.

“We are more than happy to advise over the phone or come and conduct a thorough audit in person at the premises. Having come this far, the last thing most businesses want is another setback where equipment fails, is faulty, or, in a worse-case scenario, even makes a customer unwell.” 

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Proud to launch a new equipment hire offering

We are delighted to unveil some important changes in our offering in response to client demand in light of challenging trading conditions. We are rolling out a new equipment hire offering to complement our existing services.

We are responding to short-term demand from clients who are grappling with the challenges posed by COVID-19, including lockdowns and social distancing measures, as well as longer-term trends around the launch of more temporary and flexible catering solutions.

The hospitality industry has endured a torrid 12-months thanks to multiple lockdowns, which have closed many businesses for long periods of time and limited capacity when open. As such, many businesses are now looking to hire the equipment they need in the short term while they get back on their feet, and more certainty emerges about the sector’s future trading parameters.

In addition to this, long-term social distancing guidelines could force many businesses to realign catering operations to offer customers service outside in gardens, marquees and other locations – all of which may require new equipment but only for the short term.

Meanwhile, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry was already seeing a trend for more seasonal pop-up catering solutions. Offering a hire service also caters to this market of seasonal entrepreneurs.

The new department will be led by Kyle James, our compliance and installation manager. We also anticipate creating two new jobs based on the service.

Kyle said:

“The past 12 months have created unprecedented challenges for the hospitality industry and like every business, we have had to remain nimble and alert to those changes as we look to help our clients through these tough times. These challenges have also created new types of demand that were not there before and we are reacting to those as well by launching this new offering.

“We have responded to the needs of our clients in launching this new service. At times like these when many businesses are strapped for cash and also looking to react to new conditions imposed on them around social distancing, a flexible solution to hire such as the one we are offering will be invaluable. We are already seeing many new inquiries and we look forward to helping our clients adapt and hopefully thrive again this year.”

Jacquie Jenkins, our managing director, added:

“Although the hospitality sector has experienced a difficult 12 months of trading, preceded by an unease for some two years due to Brexit, I firmly believe that, while challenges remain, there are some exciting times ahead.

“The hospitality industry is adapting to change faster than any other industry in the present circumstances. Business models are evolving fast with more outdoor trading, pop up bars and takeaway facilities, which will require temporary solutions for equipment. Our new service gives clients the opportunity to ‘Give it a go’ and to see how it works without the financial outlay of buying equipment upfront.

“It is our mission here at HB Catering and Refrigeration, to make sure our clients both old and new are supported throughout the reopening process and into the future. We are confident and excited to be part of that regeneration process of bringing customers’ plans and expectations to fruition with workable solutions either temporary or permanent.”

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Join our fast-growing team at HB Catering and Refrigeration

HB Catering and Refrigeration, a specialist in all types of commercial catering, refrigeration equipment and supplies, is seeking a dynamic and motivated sales representative to join its fast-growing team as it expands its offering, services and geographical reach across Wales and England.

The position comes with a competitive salary, commission, pension benefits and vehicle allowance. The successful candidate will be self-motivated, comfortable travelling and meeting customers face-to-face across a variety of commercial businesses.

Founded in Swansea in 1993, HB Catering and Refrigeration is a privately-owned company focused on the highest levels of customer service. It is a specialist in all types of commercial catering, refrigeration equipment and supplies,. Offering flexible buy or hire packages, kitchen design, equipment sales, installation, bespoke fabrication and a team of service engineers to carryout repairs and maintenance through the life of the product.

Interested candidates are asked to email their CV and covering letter to: jobs@hbcateringandrefrigeration.co.uk

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