Don’t let electrical problems put a halt to your dinner service. Maintaining and having electrical inspections done on your establishment’s electrical system is important in keeping the flow of your restaurant running and for your staff’s safety. In some extreme circumstances electrical issues can cause electrocution and even fires. This makes it important for restaurant owners, and managers to take steps in ensuring the maintenance of electrical equipment. In my 25 years of experience as an electrician these are the most common issues I see in restaurants.
Water and Electricity Do Not Work Together
Never store or use electrical equipment near sinks or other areas involving water. If water spills or seeps into a piece of equipment, avoid unplugging and plugging it in with wet hands. Instead use thick rubber gloves to unplug the machine. Move the equipment to a safe place and dry thoroughly. Never handle electric kitchen equipment with wet hands or use on wet surfaces.
Keep Up With Inspections
It is best to have a professional electrician inspect your equipment and overall system at least once per year. The electrician will check for power surges, frayed wiring, exposed wires, and damaged equipment. Upon completion of the inspection the electrician will document their findings and present you with a report. If any equipment needs repair or replacement take care of these issues immediately to prevent code violations and keep your staff safe.
Keep Your Eyes Open
When working in the kitchen be aware of frayed cords, exposed wires, and signs of smoke or electrical burning smells. If you notice equipment with frayed cords remove them immediately from the kitchen. Tag the equipment so it is not used until repairs or replacement can take place.
Never plug multiple pieces of equipment into one outlet or extension cord. Overloading outlets can damage the electrical system and even cause a fire. Turn off electrical equipment when not in use. Provide multiple power points and ensure the power boards have surge protection. Extension leads and double adaptors are not recommended in professional kitchens.
Keep power cords away from kitchen equipment when in use. If you use extension cords in your kitchen, store them in dry places away from water and moisture buildup, hot surfaces, walkways, and chemicals. Avoid using extension cords as permanent solutions for providing electricity to equipment. Never use cords if they feel warm while in use, this is an indication the cord is receiving too much current and can potentially cause electrocution of a person handling it.
Eliminate all defective or worn electrical wires in your establishment. Never use equipment with damaged cords or exposed wires. Replace the equipment or have a professional electrician make repairs. If a piece of equipment does have exposed wires do not just put electrical tape on it and keep using the device. Cut the power to the equipment and call an electrician for repairs.
Be aware of all safety switch locations throughout the restaurant. Understand which safety switches work with certain pieces of equipment. Train staff and other employees on these safety switches in case an emergency takes place so they will know how to shut down the machine and keep everyone safe.
Provide Staff with Electric Equipment Training
Restaurant owners and managers must insist all staff wear appropriate rubber soled footwear. Train employees how to shut off power in case of an emergency. Train employees to never touch a colleague if they are being shocked with bare hands until the power is off. Touching another person while they are being shocked will transfer the current to the other person. The best thing to do if someone is being shocked is to cut the power to the equipment either by unplugging or using the safety switch.
Working around electrical equipment always has the potential to be dangerous. This is especially true when working with kitchen equipment that has high usage. If you find your equipment or electrical system is malfunctioning, turn off the circuit breaker and call a professional electrician immediately to check the device and overall system. Never do electrical work yourself. Always leave it to the professionals.