Break Room Health and Safety Guidelines
The break room in your office or place of business should be a healthy and safe place for workers to enjoy some much-needed down time. Following some important health and safety guidelines will eliminate the risks associated with break rooms and help to guarantee the safety of your employees.
Oven and Microwave Safety
One of the most important things to discuss with employees regarding the break room is the safe operation of both the oven and the microwave if your break room has these appliances. Because ovens and microwaves have heating elements, they can represent huge safety hazards if they are not operated correctly. For example, leaving the oven on after something has finished cooking can cause overheating and even lead to a fire. Leaving an oven on also contributes to wasted energy and can hike up electric or gas bills for the business. A microwave should never be left unattended when in use. Many employees will be tempted to pop some food in the microwave and start the timer before walking away to complete another task. This behavior should be discouraged, however, because unattended food can catch fire, boil over, or even explode in a microwave. Similarly, metal should never be placed in the microwave, as this can cause a severe fire hazard.
Break Room Capacity Guidelines
It may be a good idea to put some guidelines in place that deal with the capacity that your break room can handle at any given time. Staggering the lunch breaks and other breaks taken by your employees will help to ease the problem of overcrowding, but it may not solve the problem in its entirety. Overcrowding in a break room can represent a huge safety hazard, especially in the event of a serious emergency. Decide how many people your break room can accommodate safely, and be sure that your break room doesn't turn into a crowded hangout place.
Fire Hazards and Fire Prevention
Discuss fire hazards and fire safety with employees who use the break room on a regular basis. The oven and the microwave are the two biggest causes of break room fires, but there are other potential causes for fire. Be sure that your break room is equipped with a smoke detector. Also, you may want to inform your employees how to disarm the smoke detector in a break room. A batch of burnt popcorn or a lot of steam from the stovetop may set off a false alarm.
Sharing Food with Other Employees
One health risk that is often forgotten amongst employees is the danger of sharing food with other employees. While it may seem generous and kind to share homemade food with others, this practice should be discouraged in a break room setting. If many employees eat the same batch of contaminated food, an outbreak of food poisoning, E Coli, or Salmonella poisoning could affect the entire office.
Health Hazards Caused by Pests
If your break room has an infestation of pests, insects, or vermin, it is important to contact an exterminator immediately. Rats and mice can pose a serious health and safety risk. Not only can these animals cause a panic if seen during working hours, but they also carry dangerous diseases.