Ask any restaurant owner who’s had to deal with electrical issues, or in the worst case, fire damage caused by electrical wires and cable failures, and you’ll probably hear a few horror stories. Even minor issues can become very expensive, so restaurants of all sizes should take electrical safety very seriously.
Here are five common hazards which can lead to a lot of problems:
- Electrocution – Lots of people moving in tight quarters, and plenty of liquids are an accident in the making, so your electrical circuits should be well-protected using Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) or Residual Current Circuit Breakers (RCCB). If appliance is ‘shocking’ people, even momentarily or very mildly, it’s an indication of a more serious problem.
- Overloading – There’s a lot of equipment and lighting which can overload the electrical systems and fixtures. This could result in the fixture or the insulation on the cables melting, causing short circuits and electrical fires.
- Electrical Fires – Apart from overloaded systems, overloading panels can also lead to electrical fires. An electrical panel is also built to handle a maximum number of circuit breakers. Tandem, or split, breakers could be mistakenly installed as a single breaker and overload your electrical panel.
- Power Fluctuations – Surges are fairly common and can have many causes, often caused by faulty electrical materials & products, wiring issues, and even nearby lightning strikes. Power sags and dips usually occur when you switch on a heavy device because of low quality or otherwise faulty power grids, causing appliances to consume more power than they are built to handle.
- Damaged Equipment – Most hazards which are infrequent or momentary can damage your equipment over time. Having malfunctioning equipment can be a major fire and safety hazard and should be taken very seriously.
Electrical Safety Checklist for Restaurants and Food Establishments
Electrical safety is extremely important and giving it due priority can save you from some pretty bad situations. Here is a 10-points checklist you can use to assess your current readiness and create a suitable plan for improving electrical safety:
Routine audit of all electrical devices, equipment, fixtures and wiring
- Check electrical cords for signs of wear
- Inspect wiring
- Ensure sockets or panels are not overloaded
- Test all switches for faults
Check electrical protection
- Accessories are protected against water or moisture ingress
- Industrial plugs are used in appliances
- Light fittings are protected against steam and water
- Check that sockets and fixtures are protected by Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and GFCI
- Test all Circuit Interrupters frequently and replace any malfunctioning ones immediately
- Check your appliances and circuit if the Circuit Breakers trip frequently.
- Major fixed metalwork like metal counter-tops, fryers and copper piping are connected together electrically and grounded
- Test the grounding periodically
- Routine inspection and testing of all electronic equipment
- Timely maintenance and repairs of any malfunctioning equipment
Only licensed electricians, repairmen and other contractors are hired
Age of all electronic equipment is noted and they are replaced on time
Restaurant fire safety
- Adequate fire safety equipment throughout the restaurant
- Emergency lighting and signage with designated exits
- Fire suppression system to automatically cut off gas supplies in case of a fire
Employees are trained in Fire Safety Procedures
- Identifying and reporting potential hazards-
- Faulty equipment
- Damaged electrical cables
- Locating and operating breaker switches
- Manually cutting off electrical power and gas supply
- Identifying and operating the correct fire extinguishers
- Putting out oil or grease fires properly
- Evacuating the restaurant in an emergency
- Administering first-aid
Ensure there is a fully-stocked first aid kit and emergency supplies which are easily accessible
Electrical faults may be common, but as long as you have a good electrical safety plan, carry out routine maintenance and replace electrical equipment on time, you can easily prevent most electrical hazards.