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WA: inspection program looks at safety in takeaway food outlets

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Sunday, 26 September, 2021 - 12:00
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Western Australia

WorkSafe WA is undertaking a proactive inspection program to look at workplace safety and health issues in takeaway food outlets.

The program will involve inspectors visiting fast food outlets in Perth and regional areas of the state throughout the 2021/22 financial year.

WorkSafe WA acting director Carla van Ijzendoorn said the inspection program had been prompted by continued significant numbers of lost-time injuries in the sector, along with the fact that young workers were most often injured.

“Currently the sector is averaging 153 lost-time injuries per year, with 122 of these keeping employees off work for five or more days,” van Ijzendoorn said.

“Of these, an average of 35 injuries per year are classified as severe, keeping the injured worker away from work for 60 days or more.

“Young workers predominate in the takeaway sector, and the majority of injuries (around one-third of all injuries) are sustained by workers in the 15-19-year-old age group.

“WorkSafe has concerns about the continuing high number of injuries occurring through slips, trips and falls, along with burns, manual task injuries and cuts.

“Burns from hot food and liquids are of particular concern – especially from retrieving food and liquids from microwave ovens above shoulder height – as are burns from the unsafe disposal of oil while it is still hot.

“It’s crucial that workers in the takeaway industry know proper first aid for burn injuries, and this should be part of a worker’s induction and training program.”

As part of this program, inspectors will look at WorkSafe priority areas including electricity and hazardous substances, and will also focus on more specific areas such as:

  • Slips, trips and falls caused by oil, water and foodstuffs on the floor;
  • Manual tasks –lifting heavy boxes of frozen foods and awkward crates of buns;
  • Cuts form knives and slicing equipment blades;
  • Violence and aggression;
  • Safe use and movement of vehicles – delivery vehicles and segregation of vehicles and pedestrians in drive-throughs; and
  • Exposure to communicable diseases for at-risk workers who clean toilets and pick up used needles and syringes.

“These proactive inspection programs predominantly focus on providing employers with the information they require to fulfil their responsibilities under the workplace safety laws,” van Ijzendoorn said.