Work Health & Safety in Coffee Shops – Five Tips
If you’re starting a new coffee business or have recently opened up a coffee shop, we’ve got five great work health and safety in coffee shop tips for your business.
Many new business owners are so busy getting the business setup that they sometimes put work health and safety on their “to do” list. It’s a pretty crazy time for a business owner, particularly if you’re starting with a blank canvas. There’s issues of design and layout, food safety, building fit out, hiring staff, procuring equipment. Sometimes work health and safety can take a back seat.
We’d always recommend that you consider the impacts of work health and safety from the early stages of your business. By having work health and safety at top of mind from the design stages of your coffee shop, you will be able to potentially eliminate a range of hazards through effective design.
There are an inherent range of work health & safety hazards in coffee shop operations for you to consider. These hazards include manual handling (including lifting and carrying heavy loads), slips trips and falls (common in food prep areas or where uneven walking surfaces exist), cuts from knives and other sharp objects, burns and scalds from steam/hot liquids and cooking appliances, falling objects – things falling off shelves, chemicals used for cleaning of food prep areas or other surfaces, electrical equipment (particularly if used in food prep areas, fire, noise, armed hold up, bullying and harassment, heat in food prep areas, standing for extended periods. There’s more as well…but we’ve capture the main one here.
Frightened..terrified…or scared? Our goal here is not to scare the wits out of you! It’s helping you come to terms what the potential problems that may result from your business venture and give you some ideas on how you can mitigate your risks as a business owner or employee.
Tip One – Always consider your work flow first.
Having an effective design how your work will flow is the first step in making your coffee shop safer. Let’s think about it from the start. When you receive your deliveries from your supplier, where do they enter from? Will your staff have far to carry them to storage areas? Will you need to walk past customers sipping coffee while you’re carrying heavy loads.
From the kitchen prep areas (if you have any) try to minimise staff walking past each other to undertake tasks. By doing this you’ll minimise the risk of someone walking into another team member while they’re carrying a coffee out to customers tables.
Great work flow will help your business run smoothly as well as bring about significant work health and safety benefits.
Tip Two – Understand the hazards that your coffee shop will create for both your staff and customers.
By understanding the hazards that will be inherent in your operation, you can begin to implement some ways to control them. We’ve provided a pretty comprehensive list above, but it will be always added to.
Take for example your coffee machine and the work area, does your barista have adequate space to move between the grinder and the machine without bumping into other staff? Are they obstructed by other staff walking past while they’re trying to pour a coffee. Is there a risk that they could be burnt from steam? And what’s your emergency approach if they are? That heavy garbage bin at the end of the morning shift will have to be moved…who is going to do it…or will you rely on someone do it before it get’s too full.
Never forget your customer safety either. It’s a great idea if you can think about potential hazards that your customers can be exposed to. You don’t want people tripping on uneven floor surfaces or running into each other will full cups of hot coffee. Where will they walk? Where will they sit?
Understanding what and where your potential hazards are is the first step in controlling them.
Tip Three – Always prepare for the worst-case scenario even though it may never happen.
We often work with clients who have got themselves into a little bit of work health & safety trouble. The first response following an accident is typically “he/she (the staff member) should have known better than to put their hand in a blender/machine/etc.”
Well that’s probably true, but that’s not how the safety regulator will see it. The safety regulator will see that you had a machine that someone could mangle their hand in and…youdidn’t do anything about it. It was foreseeable that someone would do something that perhaps you didn’t do.
By identifying your hazards and working through a strategy to control them, you will be a step ahead. People will be people…and you can almost guarantee that at some point in your coffee shop’s life someone will do something stupid. By thinking through the issues you’ll be clear what the potential is. Remember a hefty fine from a regulator could destroy your new business or worse still, it could destroy you personally if you’re held culpable by the regulator.
Tip Four – Purchase your equipment that is designed with safety in mind.
When you’re starting out it’s always tempting to cut costs. That’s completely understandable. Trying to make your dollars go further is very important. Unfortunately, where some new business owners come into trouble is when they make a decision to buy used equipment that is sub-standard and doesn’t meet safety standards or regulations. We’ve even heard of stories where business owners have purchased used electrical equipment for use in their business and haven’t had the product electrical safety tested before use.
When you’re buying equipment (new or used) consider whether that product is safe to meet its’ intended purpose. Has your supplier had the product certified to Australian or International Standards? Is the product inherently safe for your staff to use?
In many circumstances it doesn’t cost extra to buy the safer product. By selecting the product that’s safe and fit for purpose, you can mitigate your future safety risks.
Tip Five – Have a plan for work health & safety.
You’ll no doubt have a business plan in place for your new business. By incorporating work health & safety into your business plan from the outset, it will help you build health and safety as a discipline into your business model. Set yourself some targets for work health & safety in coffee shops. Remember, if you aim at nothing you’ll surely hit it.
Safety doesn’t happen by accident. Having a structured approach to your work health & safety from the early stages will ensure that you minimise your risk and maximise your productivity. Remember a serious accident at your business can cost you your business.
Summary – Improve safety in coffee shops.
Work health & safety in coffee shops is an important component whether your business is large or small. While many new coffee shop owners won’t consider their business to be risky from a health and safety perspective, there are risks that should be considered as you embark on your journey.
By ensuring your workflow is well thought out you’ll lessen your staff and customer’s exposure to risk. Through understanding the likely hazards and preparing for the worst case scenario at the outset, you’ll minimise your chances of a significant event affecting your business’ future.
Making the right decisions in purchasing “safe” equipment doesn’t cost you anything but time, but it can keep your staff safe from a dangerous scenario. Finally, having work health and safety incorporated into your business plan is important step in minimising your risk. Work health and safety for coffee shop owners need not be too onerous, but it must be well thought out.
Safetysure is a leading work health & safety (OHS) consulting company that has extensive experience in helping small business owners manage work safety. We work with large and small businesses at various stages of their lifecycle to help them navigate work health and safety issues and set plans for the future. We have a range of low cost small business packages that help business owners mitigate risks and focus on the future of their business. Our full range of professional service include safety training, safety coaching, policy and procedure development. Why not read our news and sign up to receive the latest update in work health & safety.