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Health and Safety Services

Safety policy on the use of catering equipment in offices and other College areas

1. From time-to-time Birkbeck Health and Safety Services and the Estates and Facilities Department come across catering equipment being used in offices, workrooms, restrooms and tea points that for fire safety reasons is unsuitable for use outside professionally managed and constructed catering areas - and also equipment that would be allowable but is badly sited or poorly maintained.

2. This document sets down the policy on these matters and is dictated by safety and environmental considerations.

3. The preparation and consumption of food and drink is prohibited in all laboratories.

4. The following equipment is permitted in offices, staff common rooms and tea points:

4.1 Kettles, tea urns, refrigerators and coffee makers on condition that:
a) they are maintained according to the College's Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) Policy.
b) they are not badly sited e.g. with trailing wires that could be tripped over.
c) in the case of refrigerators, they do not obstruct exit routes and are defrosted at regular
intervals to maintain energy efficiency and that they are cleaned regularly to ensure good hygiene.

4.2 Microwave ovens (not combination ovens) on condition that:
a) they are maintained according to the College's Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) Policy.
b) they are not badly sited e.g. with trailing wires that could be tripped over.
c) they are cleaned regularly to ensure good hygiene.
d) that there are no objections to cooking smells from others sharing the accommodation.
e) they are used strictly for short duration re-heating - e.g. for pre-cooked food and not
for any process whereby the microwave would be left on for more than a very few minutes.
f) the user remains with the microwave until it switches off.

5. The following items are not permitted for use anywhere in the College without the prior permission of the Estates and Facilities Department:
Vending machines (any type), water coolers (any type) or tea/coffee makers that need to be plumbed in. The Estates and Facilities Department must be satisfied that local electrical circuits can cope with the load such machines require and that arrangements will be put in place to maintain the electrical safety of such items.

6. The following items are not permitted at all except within professional catering facilities e.g. 5th Floor Eatery.

6.1 Toasters, sandwich makers, hot plates, slow cookers, electric ovens, gas cooking appliances, microwave combination ovens or similar heat generating appliances.

6.2 All of the above in 6.1 can produce significant heat that could start a fire or cause injury. In addition, the cooking technique used can produce fumes that could activate the fire alarm system.

7. The College reserves the right to remove any catering appliance found not to comply with this policy or indeed any electrical or gas appliance considered by the Estates and Facilities Department or the College Health and Safety Officer to be an unacceptable safety risk by design, condition, use or location.

College Safety Committee
November 2004

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Health & Safety Services, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX. Tel: 020 7631 6218, email: healthandsafety@bbk.ac.uk