Risks With Carbon Monoxide And Commercial Kitchens

This article covers the safe use of solid fuel appliances – such as tandoori ovens, charcoal grills and wood-fired pizza ovens in commercial kitchens. It is concerned mainly with the risks associated with exposure to carbon monoxide gas. The risk to workers is well known but there have also been reports of carbon monoxide exposure involving members of the public. These cases involved exposure in domestic properties neighbouring commercial catering premises using solid fuel appliances. Following the advice in this information article will help caterers protect members of the public as well as their workers.

You should read it in conjunction with Ventilation of kitchens in catering establishments, which will help you assess whether your existing ventilation is adequate as well as providing you with advice on planning the ventilation specification for new or refurbished kitchens.

What the law says

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 The HSW Act places duties on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees and that of persons not in their employment, such as customers, who may be affected by their business. This means that both workers and members of the public must be protected from the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide gas, whether your business is in operation or not. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 These Regulations require that employers provide effective and suitable ventilation in every enclosed workplace. This includes kitchens which need ventilation to create a safe and comfortable working environment. Mechanical extraction, via a canopy hood installed over the cooking appliances, can remove the fumes and vapour created by cooking and discharge them to a safe location.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

COSHH applies in commercial kitchens where solid fuel catering appliances are used. The Regulations set out a number of requirements to ensure risk is either avoided or reduced to an acceptable level. Carbon monoxide gas has a workplace exposure limit (WEL) which must not be exceeded. When solid fuel is burned, products of combustion, including carbon monoxide gas, are released. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas with no taste, smell or colour. Moderate exposure can lead to serious permanent ill-health effects or death.

Children, pregnant women, smokers and people with heart or breathing problems are particularly at risk. The early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to common ailments such as flu or upset stomach, but can escalate very quickly. Symptoms can include:

  • headache;
  • abdominal pain;
  • nausea/vomiting;
  • chest pains;
  • breathlessness;
  • dizziness;
  • visual disturbance;
  • erratic behaviour;
  • collapse.

Installation and use

There are a number of things to consider in relation to the safe installation and use of solid fuel appliances. Following this guidance will ensure that you can use your solid fuel appliance without risking the health of your workers or customers and will help you comply with the law. When considering obtaining a solid fuel appliance, seek competent advice on all technical matters relating to installation, ventilation, extraction and maintenance.

Organisations such as HETAS, Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA), Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) and B&ES will be able to provide advice on the requirements for this type of combustion appliance. It is not a legal requirement to seek advice before you buy a solid fuel appliance, but doing so may prevent you from making a costly mistake.


When buying a solid fuel appliance, determine whether your flue/extraction system is designed and constructed from suitable material. Stainless steel, for example, can withstand the corrosive nature of products released during the combustion of solid fuel. However, many kitchen extraction systems are made from galvanised steel, which is liable to corrosion. This could result in leakage of toxic combustion products, such as carbon monoxide, into other parts of the building or into neighbouring properties. If your extraction system is constructed from galvanised steel and you do not intend to replace it, seek competent advice on how this will impact on the nature and frequency of maintenance and inspection work.

The extraction system and its component parts, including any induction fans, should be designed to withstand the high temperature and corrosive effects of any intended flue gases from the cooking appliance. You should ensure there is minimal risk of heat being transferred to any combustible materials close to the flue/ductwork. You should not attempt to alter a gas or electrical appliance to burn solid fuel. Only use appliances that are designed for indoor use. If you intend to use a solid fuel appliance at an outdoor event you should be aware that using it inside a tent or gazebo can expose people to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Ventilation is crucial and you should seek competent advice when deciding where to site barbeques and other portable solid fuel appliances.

Positioning your appliance

When deciding where to site your solid fuel appliance, consider where fresh air is going to enter the room. Avoid areas where there is slow-moving or stagnant air. If the appliance is suitable for use under a canopy, ensure that the products of combustion can be effectively and safely removed (ie the canopy is not so high that it does not collect the combustion gases), and that monitoring equipment is in place to warn of any danger from products of combustion.

Ventilation and extraction

The termination point for the discharge of flue gases should not present any risk to employees or occupants of neighbouring properties. The flue should be located outside the building and terminated at a safe level. Seek advice from your local authority building control department to make sure that you are compliant with the relevant requirements. If you use a solid fuel appliance that has a natural draught flue in a commercial kitchen with a mechanical extraction system fitted, there will be a risk that the products of combustion will be drawn back down chimney or flue into the room. If you choose to have both systems it is very important that they have an equal supply of make-up air to compensate for combustion and removal of combustion products etc.

A competent engineer will be able to advise you on how this can be achieved in your premises. If you intend to use your existing extraction system for any purpose other than that it is designed for, seek competent advice to determine whether it is suitable for the additional/alternate purpose. Maintenance, testing and cleaning.

Extraction systems for commercial solid fuel appliances must be thoroughly examined and tested at least once every 14 months. You must also have an appropriate regular cleaning and maintenance programme to ensure that your extraction system continues to function properly. Maintenance, examination and testing should be carried out by a competent person. Depending on the nature of the extraction system you may also need to use a competent specialist contractor for cleaning.

MonitoringCarbon monoxide gas can build up very quickly and people can be overcome without warning. You should fit a functioning audible carbon monoxide alarm suitable for use in a commercial kitchen and have procedures in place to deal with evacuation if it goes off. Repeated activation of the alarm indicates a problem which should be investigated by a competent person before the appliance is put back into use. Carbon monoxide detectors should be used and sited in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you opt for a battery- rather than mains-operated device you should ensure that the battery is tested periodically, as advised by the manufacturer. If possible, the appliance/alarm should be interlocked with any mechanical ventilation that is fitted. You should introduce robust procedures to make sure that the extraction system fan remains switched on until all solid fuel has been extinguished, even if there is nobody on the premises. This will ensure that people in neighbouring properties are protected from any carbon monoxide that may be leaking from your premises. It will also ensure that the building is safe to enter for the next shift and can be safely accessed out of hours for example, in the event of an emergency.

If you do not wish to keep extraction equipment fans running 24 hours a day, the easiest way to make sure they remain switched on for a sufficient period of time is to interlock them to your carbon monoxide detector.

Selection and storage of fuel

Responsible suppliers/manufacturers will be able to advise you on the type of fuels suitable for your appliance. Only use recommended fuel unless you are certain that your extraction system can safely remove the products of combustion from alternative fuels. By burning only the amount of fuel you need, you will minimise the amount of carbon monoxide produced. This will also help to keep your costs down. Solid fuel should be stored in a dry and ventilated area. Requirements may vary depending on the quantity and type of fuel. Refer to the manufacturer’s or supplier’s storage instructions for specific advice.

Information, instruction and training Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to their health. You must provide clear instructions, information and adequate training for your workers on:

  • the risks they face;
  • measures in place to control risks;
  • how to follow any emergency procedures.

It is particularly important to consider the training needs and supervision of:

  • new recruits and trainees;
  • young people who are particularly vulnerable to accidents;
  • people taking on new jobs or new responsibilities;
  • health and safety representatives, who have particular laws relating to them.

You must ensure that employees are made aware of the risks and control measures required to operate the appliance safely and make sure that they are aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure.

Electrical Construction Safety: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility for Electrical Safety

Improper application of or inadequate electrical construction safety measures can cause serious workplace hazard. In a construction site, the workers and employees can be exposed to fires, electrocution, shocks, explosions, and a couple of other types of accidents.

There are specific standards for the electrical construction safety for that particular industry. Many workplace deaths happen simply because of the ignorance of the laborers about the dangers of electricity present in their work environment. It’s vital to learn about the electrical hazards and their solutions to decrease the death rate and the number of accidents.

Electrical Construction Safety Hazards and Solutions

The electrical accidents in the constructions sites happen because of some factors – insecure environment, faulty equipment and their improper installation, and risky work practices.

Exposed Electrical Parts

Keeping high-voltage electrical parts is a risky business because just a touch can cause serious shocks and sometimes death too. The simple preventive measures that you can take are replacing covers, using guards or barriers, protect the conductors, and close the unused openings. The pull boxes, junction boxes, and fittings must have covers. It’s your job to ensure that all the live electrical parts operating at 50 volts or more are properly sealed, shielded, or isolated from general traffic.

Overhead Power Lines

The electrical construction safety can be violated if these are torn or broken away for any reason. These lines often carry a high voltage of electricity. For this reason, they should be kept away from high traffic areas, and watery places because torn energized wires will electrify the water and cause a fatality on a large scale.

Such installations should have warning signs in the vicinity. The electrical contractor working with power lines need to have specialized training and personal protective equipment. Apart from the electrical tools, other equipment used for this purpose should be made of wood or fiberglass.

Faulty and Damaged Cords

Most of the times accident happen because of the partly exposed live wires. They miss the rubber or plastic protective covering because of aging, abrasion from materials, being grazed on sharp objects, and improper fastening.

Such defective cords can cause shocks, burns, and fires. You should use only those that are rated for extra-hard usage, equipped with strain relief, and are the 3-wire type.

Overloaded Circuits

These are another reason for the violation of electrical construction safety. Such a problem occurs when the workers plug too many devices into a single circuit, causing overheating the cords and leading to a fire. Lack of protection from excessive flow of current and using malfunctioning tools.

You can ensure the electrical construction safety by installing high-rated fuses and circuit breakers. These will either melt or trip open in the occasion of electricity overflow and shut off the system. The use of adequate electrical outlets is necessary to avoid circuit-related accidents.


Employing safe work practices, using protective tools, discarding faulty equipment, and hiring an experienced electrical contractor can reduce the risk associated with electrical construction safety. Appointing a firm might be the best choice for project-basis work, but make sure that the recruits of the electric company are professional and skillful.

Main Personal Protective Equipment And Safety Garments

Personal Protective Equipment is generally defined as equipment including clothing which is intended to be worn or utilized by a worker in order to ensure his safety against occupational hazards. Following are some of the basic equipment which are widely used by people associated with various professions:

1. Safety garments

So far as occupational safety is concerned, garments play a key role in almost every profession. People who have to perform in hazardous working environment wear clothing as a shield against dirt, chemicals, and a number of other hazards. A coverall is a good example of protective clothing that protects the body of a worker from dangerous substances such as oil, water, dirt, welding sparks, etc.

Coveralls are manufactured for a number of industries including welding, construction, chemical, and residential services. For instance, nomex or fire-resistant coveralls are designed for protection against high temperature. High-visibility garments, weather wear, bib pants, shop coats, and parkas are some of the common types of occupational safety clothing.

2. Helmet

Head is a sensitive part of human body. Head injuries is the major reason behind occupational deaths. Helmet is a common safety equipment which is used to protect the head from falling objects. Construction workers cannot think of working safely without wearing durable helmets. Hard hats, bump caps, and guards are also used to ensure head safety.

3. Safety Shoes

Workers from different occupations have been using safety shoes for centuries. Steel toe boots is a commonly used item which is preferred by workers for their ability to withstand hard knocks and other potential injuries.

4. Goggles

Eyes are the most delicate and sensitive part of human body. Even a tiny object can seriously injure our eyes. Professions like welding and chemical handling demand sound eye protection. Eye shields, face shields, and visors are also important eye protection tools.

5. Safety harness

In some professions, operators have to work at elevated surfaces that are not easily accessible. In order to avoid a fall from elevated points, the safety harness is utilized to ensure workers’ safety. Fall arresters, elbow and wrist support, and back support are also useful safety equipment.

Most of the workplaces establish proper dress codes for workers in order to avoid health risks and improve safety standards. As an independent worker, you should not undermine the importance of safety garments and equipment. Carefully assess all the potential hazards present at your workplace and find appropriate workwear to safely handle those hazards.

Fall Arrest and Protection Certification

With over 40,000 workers injured annually due to fall accidents, falls in the workplace present a major risk for employers and workers. The ideal method of fall prevention is to eliminate all potential fall hazards, but this is not a realistic solution for most workplaces. Fall prevention systems like guard rails and barriers are not always practical depending on the work-site and nature of work being performed. If fall prevention is not possible, fall protection measures and training are the best way to protect yourself in the event of a fall.

Fall arrest systems work by protecting workers by stopping (or arresting) them in mid-fall. An effective fall arrest system uses harness, anchor, lanyard, and lifeline components to secure the worker to a stable working surface in order to lessen the impact to the worker in the event of a fall. The goal of the fall arrest system is to absorb the energy of the fall so that the force of falling is not applied to the worker.

The essential elements of a fall arrest system include: a harness, a lanyard, and a lifeline. Regular inspection of these elements is critical to ensure that they’re in good working order and can perform their functions in the event of a fall. When checking the harness, ensure that the hardware and straps are not worn, that there are no twists or tears in the fabric, and that all parts can move freely. For the lanyard, you want to check that the rope is in good condition, that the harness attachment is secure, and that there is no wear or damage to the hardware and shock-absorbing fabric. In the case of the lifeline, you again want to check for any wear or deterioration and ensure that the retracting function operates smoothly. Any parts of the fall arrest system that show wear, or are not performing to specification, should be replaced before use.

If you plan to be working at heights, fall protection training is required by state and provincial law. There are courses specifically designed to provide participants with the training that they need to make safe decisions when working at heights. Fall arrest courses are typically one day in duration and provide a combination of classroom and hands-on training covering topics like: the dynamics of falling, fall protection systems and planning, fall arrest system components, harness fitting, equipment care and inspection, and rescue procedures. Fall arrest training is affordable for workers and employers, and typically costs around $200 for a one day course. Excellent online courses are also available for around $60.

Falls are preventable and the injury resulting from a fall can be mitigated through proper fall arrest equipment and training. Before working at heights, make sure to arm yourself with the training and knowledge you need to work safely.

Safety Tickets

The great thing about working in the oilfield and construction industries is that you don’t need a lot of expensive or formal training to get your foot in the door. If you’ve got a great attitude and work ethic, you’ll likely quickly become a valued team member. The fact that jobs in these industries tend to pay well means that there can be many people vying for the same position. There are a few things you can do before your job hunt to set yourself up for success.

Before you start sending out resumes, do some research and find out what safety tickets are likely required for the positions you’re interested in. Having current safety tickets on your resume can boost your application ahead of other candidates who don’t have the same training. Having valid safety tickets means that you can get to work as soon as you’re hired (versus other candidates who may spend their first week tied up in training courses). Here’s some examples of some of the safety tickets you should consider to get the attention of the hiring manager:

1. CSTS (Construction Safety Training System): This is a basic safety certification that you’ll need before working on site. It’s a half-day, online course that will only cost you about $65.

2. First Aid: This is necessary if you will be working on any site that presents serious occupational hazards. Occupational Health and Safety legislation mandates how many employees must have first aid training depending on the size of the crew and site. Most companies will require that all field-based employees have valid first aid training to respond quickly and to minimize incidents if they happen. When selecting your training, look for Standard First Aid with Level A CPR. This is normally a two-day course and costs about $175.

3. H2S Alive: If you’ll be working on sites where there is petroleum extraction or drilling, you’ll need this certification. H2S Alive teaches you how to protect yourself and others from Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) which is a colourless poisonous gas that is sometimes released as a by-product of oil and gas drilling. When looking for H2S training, be sure to select one that specifies “H2S Alive”. There are other H2S training courses that will not necessarily meet industry standards. H2S Alive is a one-day course and costs approximately $275.

CSTS, First Aid, and H2S Alive are the three basic safety tickets that you’ll likely need before starting a job. Getting them in advance of applying for jobs will make you more likely to get hired because your employer will not only save money on training, but can also put you to work right away.

Some additional requirements to consider before embarking on your job search include: a driver’s license, steel-toed boots, and a resume. Having an unrestricted driver’s license and a good driving record is highly preferable as some employers have insurance policies that exclude employees with limited or poor driving history. Steel-toed boots will be part of your required PPE (personal protective equipment) and many employers expect you to provide your own pair.

When you’re drafting your resume, be sure to highlight experience that demonstrates your comfort with working outdoors in all weather conditions. Your experience working with heavy equipment, working in labour-intensive environments, and working as a part of a team, are all positive things to highlight on your resume that will set you apart from the crowd.

What the Las Vegas Shooter Can Teach CEOs & Business Owners About Their Workplace Violence Plans

Picture this: you’re at an event, perhaps with family or friends, and with only the cares of the drink and food you purchased and the excitement of the festivities on your mind. When suddenly, you see the person next to you and several others around you appear to trip or suddenly drop quickly to the ground.

Then, as you look into the lifeless eyes of the person at your feet, you hear what sounds like firecrackers amidst the ear-splitting screams of everyone around you. Your brain races to try to figure out how to get to safety.

That’s what it could have felt like for many at the recent event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Now, imagine for a moment that you’re not at a concert but sitting at your desk with only the cares of your workday schedule when you hear those “firecrackers” and screaming. Or, worse yet, the screams are yours because YOU are the intended target of this madman’s rage!

For many, this is an unbelievable scenario – after all, something like this “could never happen to them.” But, as an expert in ethical self-defense and workplace safety and security, this is an all too familiar story for me because I see it play out, albeit in different settings and with different weapons and attacker types, every… single… day.

In fact, in the US alone, an average of 13 people are killed, and another 38,500 – the entire population of many small towns – are attacked in workplace violence attacks… every WEEK! But, even though it was not a workplace violence situation per se, what can events like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, and the Vegas shooter, teach CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and other business owners about the potential flaws in their workplace violence plans, policies, and training programs, assuming they have anything in place to begin with?

Here are three important lessons just for starters:

1) Human beings stampede when they panic and, in lieu of training and a reliable workplace violence response plan, panicking employees will cause added injury to themselves and others in the process of trying to get away from the violence.

Attackers plan around this “stampede” response to make their task easier, and so should you.

2) Violence is random by nature. You never know when it will happen or the form it will take. But, just as with fire safety, you do as much as possible beforehand to prevent incidents from occurring; things like making sure wiring is to code and placing flammable materials securely away from heat, flames, and machinery that produce sparks. But, you also install mitigation procedures and training; things like sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers, as-well-as conducting fire drills and other response training, just in case one occurs anyway.

And, you do this because you know you need both prevention AND mitigation. Because, even if the likelihood of a fire is low, you know that the loss and level of consequence from even one occurrence will be much more costly to your business assets and operation.

Well, workplace violence is no different, except for the fact that you are many times more likely to have an act of workplace violence occur in your business than a fire – a fact born out by OSHA statistics and a statement made by the U.S. Department of Justice which says that your workplace is likely the most dangerous place you can find yourself in today’s world!

3) Attackers don’t care about what you’re going to do to them afterwards. Even if they don’t kill themselves, as Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock did as the police breached his hotel room…

… in the moment they are attacking, perpetrators are not deterred by or even considerate of the punishment facing them as a result of their actions. During the moments when they are carrying out their attack against their intended victim(s), they only care about accomplishing the intended goal!

The world has become a very different place from the one you and I grew up in And while many businesses have taken steps in instituting workplace violence prevention policies, and some even introducing albeit limited training, about 70% of companies in the United States alone, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, are still guided by denial and avoidance.

What can and should be done to insure a safer workplace for you and you employees? Here are a few suggestions for avoiding the most common mistakes:

1) Avoid relying solely on passive prevention. Attackers don’t care about your “Zero Tolerance,” and punitive action statements. And as for those false confidence-building “banned weapons on site” lists…

… chances are that a committed assailant is counting on you having disarmed all of your other employees so they won’t encounter any active resistance!

2) Have a plan, policy, and your employee response training designed by an expert in violence mitigation and tailored to your specific business. Don’t use borrowed and modified templates and, most importantly, don’t assign the task of creating this critical system to a manager or committee whose members have no actual, real-world experience with the operative word in the plan… violence!

3) Avoid randomly chosen “awareness” and stand-alone training programs. Even if more than 20% of your employees are paying attention during the training, the fact is that an “awareness and prevention” class is, more often than not, a huge waste of time, money, and resources which could be better spent on a fully optimized and systemic security and safety solution.

Used as a stand-along “awareness and prevention” program, this type of activity does nothing to improve your situation. And, while it may make some of your people more “aware,” it certainly won’t make your workplace any safer the next morning!

Instead, these programs should be a part of a systemic whole – introduced at varying points to management, security departments and response teams, as-well-as the general employee population during role-out of the different phases of your new or augmented security and response protocols.

They should not, as is most commonly done, be used like “Band-aids” or feel-good activities which only create the illusion of safety.

To be sure, the incident in Las Vegas was a horrible tragedy, as are others which occur practically every day. But merely talking about them until the next tragedy comes along does nothing to decrease the likelihood of an attack in your own workplace, nor does it mitigate damage and injury in the face of an actual assault – when you’ve discovered that your workplace violence prevention policies have failed.

As a business leader, you have a choice. You can either be realistic and recognize that in today’s turbulent world, there are more and more reasons people seem to find to lash out against their fellow human beings, and take action on that knowledge; or you can continue to ignore this reality, focus only on workplace violence prevention policies, and be left to deal with the damage to not only people and property, but also to your company’s reputation, liability, assets, and business continuity and sustainability in the aftermath!

Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI, is an internationally-recognized expert in ethical self-defense and workplace safety & security. He is the founder and director of WCI Consulting, a boutique consulting firm specializing in helping serious owners and business leaders “attack-proof” their companies against active shooter scenarios and other forms of violence in the workplace.

Jeff is also a writer, speaker, as-well-as the co-author of two peer-reviewed books on workplace violence and emergency management in the healthcare sector, the video, “Danger Prevention Tactics: Protecting Yourself Like a Pro!, the Kindle book, “Advanced Self-Defense Combat Tactics” (both available on Amazon.com), and over 500 articles on the topics of safety, ethical self-defense, and attack mitigation.

As a partner and trusted adviser, he specializes in increasing every client organization’s and/or department’s level of safety, security, and reputation for employee care, while simultaneously decreasing threat potential, damages, and liability from acts of violence in their workplace. And, in cases where avoidance and prevention isn’t or wasn’t possible, he helps them to maintain business continuity at the greatest level possible until activities can be returned to 80 percent or better of pre-event levels.