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Health And Safety In A Restaurant


There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to health and safety in a restaurant. As well as making sure staff are kept safe, customers also need to be looked after, and food standards must be adhered to. Every restaurant, whether big or small, will need a restaurant risk assessment to make sure the venue is fit for purpose and safe for everyone working and dining there. 

The Health And Safety Executive (HSE) sets out clear standards for catering health and safety, with information about the potential risks and how to minimise them in hospitality venues including restaurants. This guide explains the specific hazards in a restaurant, what is expected from a restaurant risk assessment, and how restaurants can adhere to food safety guidelines to protect their business and their patrons. 

The Importance Of Restaurant Health And Safety

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Health and safety in a restaurant underpins almost everything. There is a lot going on in every venue at any given time. Restaurant health and safety starts with the kitchens, which are bustling places with hot surfaces and sharp instruments, restaurant floors are filled with trip hazards, and the food itself can pose a risk if not cooked properly. With so many elements involved, the chances of an accident happening are much higher than they might be in a quieter environment, like an office for example. 

Identifying these risks and determining how they can be avoided or reduced is integral to the safe running and success of a restaurant. This is why restaurant health and safety policies exist, and why every establishment must complete a restaurant risk assessment.

Hazards In A Restaurant 

Every restaurant faces their own challenges depending on the size of the venue, the type of food served, or even staff numbers. However, there are several hazards in a restaurant that are universal and will affect every hospitality business in some way. These are the most common hazards in a restaurant that should be identified as part of a health and safety risk assessment.


There are a significant number of fire hazards in a restaurant, including cooking appliances, open flames, and electrics. Many restaurants will also have an abundance of flammable substances like alcohol and cleaning supplies on the premises. It is therefore crucial to identify and list all fire risks and make sure there’s a stringent fire risk assessment in place as part of a restaurant risk assessment.

Knives And Sharp Objects

Restaurants are full of sharp and dangerous objects, from cooking knives or cleavers to slicing utensils and broken glassware. Cuts and lacerations are common in the restaurant industry, and the HSE has a dedicated section about the use of knives to help inform processes for sound health and safety in a restaurant. 


Burns and scalds can happen for several reasons in a restaurant. Typical hazards in a restaurant that cause burns include hot surfaces, boiling liquids, and heated equipment. These types of hazards are everywhere in a restaurant, but with adequate training and safety measures they can be reduced.


Slips And Trips

It’s hoped that restaurants will be busy places with plenty of patrons filling the seats. This buzzing environment though can be a hazard that can cause slips or trips. Tables and chairs can easily be bumped into, carpets can be tripped over, and poor lighting can make it difficult to see where you’re going. Carrying heavy trays of food can add to this hazard, as can food and drink spillages.

Harmful Substances

Restaurants contain several substances that could be harmful if not used correctly. Harmful substances that could be considered hazards in a restaurant include things like cleaning products, food preparation items, smoke, and carbon monoxide. Overexposure to cleaning products can cause dermatitis or other allergen-based problems like asthma. Restaurant health and safety measures should really include a COSHH assessment to protect staff from these hazards.

Food Health and Safety

Food health and safety is an entirely separate topic with many rules and regulations. The last thing any restaurant wants is for customers to get ill. This is why proper food health and safety procedures must be adhered to. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has very detailed information about food safety but as a brief overview, these are some of the things to think about: 

  • Storage – all food should be stored at the optimum temperature. Food items should also be stored separately from one another to avoid cross contamination
  • Preparation – when preparing food, specific guidelines should be followed, such as using different chopping boards and utensils for different products, and sticking to the correct cooking temperatures to make sure food is thoroughly cooked

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  • Environment – the kitchen and preparation space should be clean and anyone coming into contact with food should wash their hands thoroughly beforehand to reduce the spread of germs and infection
  • Allergies – there are many types of food allergies to be aware of and so restaurant health and safety must factor this in when storing, preparing, and serving food to make sure no one has an allergic reaction
  • Staff training – keeping staff up to date with the latest legislation and ensuring they know how to handle, store, and prepare food is essential for maintaining good health and safety in a restaurant

What To Include In A Restaurant Risk Assessment 

A robust restaurant risk assessment will start by identifying the hazards in a restaurant. Once these hazards, including the examples above, have been established, the risk assessment should then cover ways to prevent accidents that could arise from them. These are some of the control measures you might see in a restaurant risk assessment:

Fire Safety

Make sure there’s an appointed fire marshal and check fire escapes regularly to make sure there’s a clear path to safety. Fire escape routes should be free from obstructions and appropriate signage and fire safety equipment should be available. 


Kitchens and restaurant floors should have adequate ventilation to clear any fumes or smoke from cooking and to help circulate air. Germs and infections can easily be passed on in busy restaurants so proper ventilation is key.

Venue Capacity

Knowing the maximum capacity of the restaurant can help to reduce risks like slips and falls, thereby protecting both staff and customers. Overfilling a space can lead to more accidents. This is especially true if you plan to hold an event in the restaurant space. 

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Handling Equipment

Restaurant health and safety policies should include clear instructions on how to handle items like knives, hot pans, and stoves. You may even wish to establish safe systems of work so that all employees know the best and safest way to complete specific tasks as safely as possible. This can help to reduce accidents.


Including details about hospitality staff training in your restaurant risk assessment goes a long way to making sure everyone involved contributes to, and complies with, restaurant health and safety.

Restaurant Health And Safety Checklist

In the UK, a restaurant health and safety check is routinely performed around once every six months. In order to pass the health and safety check, restaurants will need to demonstrate that:

  • The workplace is clean and free of pests
  • Equipment is cleaned regularly and proficiently
  • Separate sinks are used to clean equipment and hands
  • Fridges are all at the correct temperatures so that food is stored safely 
  • Storage and preparation areas are clean and well organised to avoid cross contamination
  • Any protective equipment, such as hair nets, are in use
  • There is a first aid kit readily available
  • Cleaning cloths are only used once, cleaning products are well stocked and there is a cleaning procedure in place
  • There is a stock control system to keep track of food dates and rotations 
  • Food is thawed and reheated according to safe preparation procedures
  • Evidence can be supplied to prove all of the above

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Knowing some of the standard points in a restaurant health and safety check can help restaurants to understand what they should be including in their health and safety policies and risk assessments. It is not a tick sheet to help restaurants do the bare minimum but a guide that can be built on to produce an exhaustive restaurant health and safety document.

Restaurant Health And Safety From Rhino Safety

With such a huge number of things to consider with restaurant health and safety, appointing experts to manage it all ensures that everything is taken care of and your business adheres to all current legislation. Keeping staff and diners safe is the first priority for restaurant owners and a safe restaurant is a more successful one.

Rhino Safety handles all aspects of health and safety across many sectors, including hospitality health and safety. We can provide health and safety audits for your restaurant business, as well as complete risk assessments, and we can provide health and safety documentation too.

Please get in touch for a no obligation quote and to find out how easy we make it to manage your business’ health and safety.


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