WorkSafe Western Australia is undertaking a proactive inspection program to look at safety issues in takeaway food outlets which will involve inspectors visiting fast food outlets in Perth and regional areas of the State throughout the 2016/17 financial year.
WorkSafe Director Joe Attard said the inspection program had been prompted by a significant number of lost-time injuries in the sector, along with the fact that young workers are most often injured.
“Currently the sector is averaging 163 lost-time injuries per year, with 115 of these keeping employees off work for five or more days,” Mr Attard said.
“Of these, an average of 30 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 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. A poster has been jointly developed by WorkSafe, the Fiona Wood Foundation and the Department of Health, and we’d like to see this poster in every takeaway food outlet.”
As part of this inspection program, inspectors will look at WorkSafe priority areas including electricity and hazardous substances.
They will also focus on more specific areas such as:
• Slips, trips and falls from oil, water and foodstuffs on the floor;
• Manual tasks – lifting heavy boxes of frozen chips and awkward crates of buns;
• Cuts from 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,” Mr Attard said.
“The inspectors work with the aid of a checklist to ensure consistency, and these checklists are available on WorkSafe’s website so employers can check on what will be expected if they are visited by an inspector.
“So although the provision of information is the primary focus, inspectors will take enforcement action if they find breaches of the workplace safety laws.
“We firmly believe that raising awareness through proactive inspection programs is the best way in which to lessen the risk of work-related injury and illness.”
To discuss any concerns you may have about workplace health and safety in your business, contact the National Retail Association Hotline on 1800 738 245 and speak to one of our Workplace Advisors today!