National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cites cooking equipment as the leading cause of fires in hotels and motels, accounting for one-half of all hotel fires. Although not all fire risks can be eliminated in a kitchen, they can be significantly reduced by simple measures such as regular cleaning and checking and properly maintaining appliances. In addition to regular daily cleaning, it is equally important to schedule regular deep cleaning of ductwork and ventilation systems by trained and accredited professionals. Hospitality and Catering News explains why regular deep cleaning of ductwork and ventilation systems is business critical.
Everyone knows that hygiene is a vital part of any foodservice business, but aside from daily cleaning, it is enormously important to have regular deep cleans from highly trained, accredited professionals. They can reach the parts that catering staff cannot reach, dismantling equipment where necessary to decarbonise, degrease and sanitise. Here are some less obvious and slightly scary reasons, why regular deep cleaning of ductwork and ventilation systems is business critical.
1. The hidden menace
Ductwork, extraction and ventilation systems play a vital part of any catering operation, but as the majority of it is concealed, it can be easy to forget about the hidden hazards that lie within.
You probably can’t see it unless you look closely, but the grease from cooking oil builds up in your filters. It settles on your canopy, your extractor fan and your ductwork. It sits there waiting to catch fire and provides a breeding ground for bacteria. It can put your whole building, business and staff at risk. And unless it’s dealt with properly, it can invalidate your insurance.
That’s why we don’t just clean canopies and filters. We carry out a thorough ventilation and internal ductwork clean to BESA TR/19 standards. We recommend that kitchens with moderate use (6-12 hours per day) – should plan a clean every six months. However kitchens with heavy use of more than 12 hours a day or, those that use cooking processes involving fat frying or wood/charcoal burning, may need cleaning more frequently.
2. Risk of prosecution
A spokesman for the Fire Authority has stated “uncleaned grease extract ventilation systems present probably the greatest potential fire risk in buildings with catering facilities”.
The Fire Safety Order of 2005 requires those responsible for workplaces to appoint a ‘responsible person’ to carry out a fire risk assessment of their premises, identifying all possible sources for fire which might endanger the lives of building occupants. They are legally required to take action to eliminate – or at least to minimise – risks to the safety of the building’s occupants.
Therefore failure to arrange regular deep cleans of ductwork and ventilation is a breach of this legislation, making this person liable to prosecution. If a fire causes injury or death, they may be liable to criminal prosecution.
3. Occupational health risks
Blocked or dirty ductwork and ventilation systems will result in more overheating and fumes in the kitchen environment. But aside from being unpleasant to work in, this is a serious health hazard. Cooking fumes contain airborne contaminants such as carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds, with several studies finding associations between exposure to cooking fumes and an increased risk of respiratory cancer.
Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified emissions from high temperature frying as probably carcinogenic to humans. What’s more increased levels of deadly toxin, carbon monoxide (CO), can be harmful with evidence showing that chronic exposure even at relatively low levels, can have significant effects on long-term health. Symptoms of mild CO poisoning include headaches and dizziness.
4. Increased energy bills
Less harmful to humans, but still harmful to the business are the economic consequences of dirt. The extra weight of grease build up on ventilation fans, means it can take up to 35% more energy to make them turn. Once surfaces are clean it takes less effort, resulting in reduced energy costs. Add to that the implications of wear and tear, reduced reliability and projected lifespan of equipment, and the relatively low costs of a clean soon pale into insignificance.
5. Increased absenteeism and staff turnover
Another hidden consequence with economic repercussions is the increase in staff absenteeism and turnover. A kitchen that is regularly hot and smelly is not a pleasant place to work in and this can result in higher levels of staff sickness and resignations. Clean, well maintained duct and ventilation systems mean less overheating, fumes and smells. Staff will be more comfortable, leading to improved productivity and less work related health issues.
Regular deep cleaning of your appliances, storage areas, surfaces, canopies and ductwork will also improve baseline hygiene, giving more motivation to staff to keep on top of daily cleaning protocols and making it easier for them to maintain.
So there you have it. There is more to deep cleaning than just keeping the environmental health officer at bay and our overnight service means it needn’t disrupt your business.