2 min read

11 steps to clean up your legal duty

Many workplace kitchens are notorious for being dirty and can often be a source of sometimes unspoken conflict between staff.

We were recently asked by one of our Handbook subscribers if there is a legal obligation to keep the workplace kitchen clean.

The answer is yes.

Under Section 41 of Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has the duty to provide and maintain adequate and accessible facilities.

This means ensuring, so far as reasonably practicable:

  • the provision of adequate facilities for workers, including toilets, drinking water, washing facilities and eating facilities; and
  • that the facilities are maintained so as to be kept in good working order, i.e. clean, safe and accessible.

The maximum penalty for failing to provide adequate facilities is $6,000 for an individual or $30,000 for a body corporate.

However, such an unnecessary fine is easy to avoid if you and your staff follow some very basic practices.

11 steps to ensure that kitchens and staffrooms are kept hygienic:

  1. Ensure that workers wash their hands before and after handling food.
  2. Ensure your staffroom has a working refrigerator.
  3. Have workers remove any food they have stored in the fridge at the end of each week to reduce the risk of food becoming contaminated.
  4. Keep food preparation areas, such as benchtops, clean.
  5. Provide workers with clean utensils to enable them to prepare and eat their food. If your business provides biscuits or other snacks, tongs should also be provided to avoid contamination. Remember to keep tongs clean.
  6. Provide a sink and draining board with hot water and detergent so that cutlery and crockery can be cleaned after each use. Buckets or tubs may be provided when fixed facilities are not available. These should only be used for dishwashing purposes and should be cleaned after each use.
  7. If food is being prepared for other people, ensure that appropriate clothing is worn, including gloves and hairnets, and that any open wounds are covered with sterile strips, e.g. Band-Aids.
  8. Make sure hot food is either kept hot or reheated to avoid the risk of contamination.
  9. Ensure that cooked foods are kept separate from raw or uncooked foods, particularly during food preparation, and that different utensils are used for each.
  10. Ensure that any cleaning equipment that regularly gets wet, e.g. mops, cloths and dishwashing brushes, is thoroughly washed and dried after each use.
  11. Keep bins free of flies and vermin to minimise the risk of disease spreading.

Additionally, only use the recommended amounts of chemical cleaning products, such as disinfectants and always follow all instructions before preparing food on any surfaces that have been cleaned recently.

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