Bakers have it tough! You work long hours under hot conditions around hazardous products in a busy environment. Have you ever been burned by hot sugar? Felt a twinge in your back when lifting heavy sacks of flour? Or slipped on a wet floor when a coworker spilled the water near an industrial mixer? Due to the risk of potential hazards, it’s important to keep health and safety in mind for your bakery.
Whether you’re an apprentice baker or the head baker, health and safety in a bakery is key to keeping everyone safe and happy in the workplace. How do you maintain health and safety, and where and how can you improve?
The Health and Safety Executive agrees that most bakery accidents happen as a result of heavy lifting, slipping, exposure to harmful substances, machinery, hot equipment, and even flour dust.
When you work in a bakery, you can often work over twelve hour shifts. The kitchen can be hot - if you have several large ovens going at once and the dough proofer - and you have to lift heavy 16kg (35 lbs) sacks of flour, buckets of water, slabs of butter, and after all that the dough itself. The noise from large mixers can be deafening, and the bustle of busy staff can post added danger.
How To Prevent Accident and Injury in a Bakery?
Clean. First of all, no matter how busy you are, make sure your workplace is clean. Water, flour and sugar can create a slippy paste, so make sure surfaces are regularly wiped down. Keep equipment out the way when not being used so there’s no danger of other bakers tripping over a rogue baking tray.
Anti-Slip. Second, with those slippery surfaces, you may want to consider putting down anti-slip mats as well as making sure that floors are mopped regularly and free of standing water.
Double Duty. Furthermore, the food itself can cause dangers. Hot sugar and multiple ovens pose risk of burns. Make sure to protect your hands with heavy-duty tea towels (as oven gloves are impractical when you’re moving from task to task). For lifting heavy objects, try and encourage teamwork to cause fewer musculoskeletal injuries as baker injuries can mean lost time and money for both the baker and the bakery.
Beat the Heat. For hot environments, consider a cooling system to keep your bakers cool and comfortable. Make sure the clothes, aprons, and hats worn are made of breathable and hygienic fabrics.
Noise Reduction. To combat noise, you may want to provide earplugs as an optional feature in the kitchen. You can find some ear plugs that allow a healthy amount of sound through - so you can hear your coworkers - but that protect your ears from harmful decibels.
Workplace Flow. Finally, an important safety feature to consider is the placement of mixing equipment and ovens, and how your bakers move around them. Make sure your kitchen has an efficient layout. Speak with the head baker about how everyone moves and works in the kitchen. Having a proper layout of both kitchen equipment and staff makes everything more efficient and safe.
Think of hazards that pose risk of injury to your staff, and get together as a team to figure out what equipment you need to prevent injury.
Public Facing Bakery versus Commercial Bakery: How they Differ on Safety
Whether your bakery is small, and public-facing - i.e. you have your bakers in the back, and some serving staff in front of glass display cabinets - or you work in a large, commercial bakery without customers, safety considerations don’t differ much. Large or small, you still need to consider the risks and how to combat them.
Layout. With smaller bakeries, there may be fewer people to navigate around, so they will automatically be safer than a large-scale bakery in which there are many moving parts. Both types of bakeries need to have efficient layouts - in the kitchen itself and in all areas of the bakery.
Training. Where they differ most will be in training and adhering to regulations. The larger the workforce, the more training you’ll need to do for your staff. Also, a well-oiled machine should work smoothly and may need very little communication - for example you might have some bakeries in which the bakers know what to do and when to do it and everything runs smoothly without the head baker having to shout directions to her apprentices and other staff - but in order to get to that level of efficiency, everyone must be properly trained. Training also stops each person being a danger to others. The workplace has enough hazards without an untrained staff member knocking into another causing a chain reaction of negative consequences.
One area that won’t differ is hygiene in the food workplace, it's important to maintain extremely high hygiene standards. When you're working with food, work surfaces and all kitchen utensils need to be clean and steps must be put in place to avoid cross contamination. Also as you’re dealing with food and utensils and potentially customers, it’s really important that all staff keep washing and sterilising their hands regularly to avoid possible cross contamination.
All Bakers Should Wear Slip-Resistant Shoes At Work:
Slip resistant shoes can improve and maintain health and safety in the bakery; all bakers should wear the correct footwear at all times, and it’s especially important that your footwear prevents slips and provides comfort. Wearing durable footwear means the shoes last longer, and are less costly over time. Furthermore, we have slip-resistant styles that are designed for the catering industry in mind and provide comfort and support to feet and joints.
Are you looking to buy new shoes for work?
See all our slip-resistant shoes for bakers in our online store:
What makes our work shoes different to shoes on the high street?
When you’re working in a bakery, you need to wear appropriate footwear. This guide explains what makes our shoes better suited for work, in comparison to high street styles.
Keep health and safety in mind - and noting ways you can improve - will keep everyone happy and the heat figuratively out of the kitchen. Happy Baking!