The environment in the kitchens which prepare all kinds of delicious food, is in many occasions poor.
Running a restaurant is one of the most common businesses in Barcelona with thousands of workers involved. However, the health and safety of these workers is too often overlooked.
Barcelona is famous of its fashionable restaurants which attract many tourists to come with admiration. There are countless restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine. Many restaurants have devoted a lot of resources and efforts in their interior design to give a comfortable environment for customers. However, few of us notice that the environment in the kitchens which prepare all kinds of delicious food is in many occasions poor. Busy kitchen workers always need to work under a hot and wet environment filled with oil fume and traps, which leads to frequent accidents and endangers their health.
Injuries can be considerably eliminated through straightening up the kitchen and on the job training.
Every day, inside busy restaurants, kitchen workers hurt by collision with stationary objects due to narrow space or rush work. Other important reasons for injury are fall on slippery floor and poor housekeeping. It is also easy to get injured when manual lifting or carrying heavy loads. Apparently, these injuries can be considerably eliminated through straightening up the kitchen and on the job training.
The problem of heat stress.
The kitchen workers are facing the problem of heat stress. Inside some kitchens the temperature can rise as high as 37℃, far exceeding the threshold value limit of permissible heat exposure of 26.7℃. Other undesirable working conditions together with many heat sources (such as stoves and roasters) impair the health of kitchen workers, especially during the hottest summer days.
Too many kitchen workers suffer from cancer just because they inhale the oily smoke arising from cooking.
It is worth noting that when cooking with hot oil, the kitchen workers’ breathing zone contains highly concentrated air pollutants, including formaldehyde, oilmist and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It is believed that these harmful substances could be derived from the transformation process on heating unsaturated oil and fat in meat during hot cooking. In fact, some kitchen environments are full of carcinogenic substances. It is hard to imagine that the chefs and cooks who prepare delicious food for us may suffer from cancer just because they inhale the oily smoke arising from cooking. But it is more worrying that both employers and employees in the trade do not realize the existence of such a hazard.
The rate of kitchen workers dying of lung cancer is 15% higher than the general public. If compared against the waiters, the kitchen workers’ rate is also 15% higher.
Many studies conclude that the proportion of smokers among kitchen workers is similar to that of waiters, approximately 40% to 50%. Therefore the findings have made the deduction that lung cancer suffered by kitchen workers is related to long contact with oil fumes
Some of the best restaurants in Barcelona have even installed water spray hoods, or hydro-vents to clean the air. But the problem continues, because most restaurants and bars in the city are small. Many restaurants don’t even have the necessary space and resources to install expensive equipment to clean the air.
Hard work with long work weeks
Next time when you are waiting for your delicious dinner in a restaurant, keep in mind that most Barcelona kitchen workers need to work really hard. Most of them work more than 40/hours per week. It is “normal” that many work between 50 to 60 hours and 6-day work week. Studies show that working more than 40/hours work week is dangerous. It is especially dangerous if you must work in a bad atmosphere contaminated with cancerogenic oil fumes. Long work weeks lead also to serious negative effects on health, family life, and productivity.
All these are possibly the reasons for accidents at work or occupational disease.
In memory of Eduardo Sierra Liñan. A brilliant Chef, who dedicated his life cooking wonderful meals in many of Barcelona’s best restaurants. We will miss you, Edu. You left us far too soon.