10 common risks in the hospitality industry

There are hazards in every workplace. It’s impossible to eliminate all hazards but it is possible to reduce the risk posed if you know what to look for. When assessing the hazards that exist in your workplace, you can give yourself a head start by understanding the most common ones that appear in your type of workplace.

10 of the most common hazards to look out for in hospitality.


  1. Manual handling (Lifting and pushing)

Staff who work in bars, restaurants and other venues are always on the go and moving equipment by hand. Whether it’s boxes, plates, trays or anything else, handling heavy or awkward shaped objects incorrectly can cause serious musculoskeletal injuries. Trauma to your back, knees, elbows and muscles is common when not handling a load correctly. If work is repetitive like moving kegs or barrels regularly the damage can build over time and cause more serious.

Ways to tackle this are:

  • Ensure regular training is carried out for employees who carry loads by hand.
  • Ensure new starters have a proper induction which includes instructions on safe manual handling
  • Use mechanical aids where possible (such as keg lifters).
  • Re-arrange equipment/workplace so less manual handling is required
  • Ask for help. Don’t feel ashamed in asking for assistance if an object is too heavy or awkward to lift alone.


  1. Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls is an occupational hazard which will occur in any workplace, including hospitality venues. The most common reason for risk of slips and trips is poor housekeeping. Boxes, wires, cables, bin bags and other materials left in walkways provide the ammunition required for a person to slip on.

In hospitality, housekeeping levels are often inconsistent across the venue layout. Extra efforts are usually made to ensure areas of public footfall are tidy and free from objects that could cause trip hazards, but it’s important to focus on back of house areas as well as it’s actually the staff within the venue who are rushing around who are more likely to have an incident.

Practical measures to prevent these slips, trips and falls:

  • Use effective signage and lighting
  • Clean up spills straight away
  • Ensure emphasis is placed on staff only as well public facing areas

Practical measures to prevent these slips, trips and falls:

  • Use effective signage and lighting
  • Clean up spills straight away
  • Ensure emphasis is placed on staff only as well public facing areas


Quick break! How do you carry out risk assessments?

It’s important that you not only recognise the most common hazards, but also have a way of reducing the risk they pose. Pilla customers use the Pilla app to carry out risk assessments in their venue and build a full health and safety management system which outlines exactly how each safety arrangement will be carried in the business.

If you’re not subscribed to the Pilla app, you will need to find a way to identify risks and decide on your way of reducing the them.

Carrying out a risk assessment on Pilla is quick and simple, The ‘document builder’ section of the app, will guide you through each assessment and help you consider all the topics that you should be thinking about when it comes to each type of risk.

Each risk assessment takes approximately ten minutes to complete and will provide you with a finished document to share with your team and implement in venue.

As you work your way through each of the sections on the assessment builder, you will be provided with guidance to understand why each question is being asked and how you should answer it.

You will set a review date for your risk assessment and Pilla will automatically notify you by email when the review date is approaching so that you never miss it.

Start creating your risk assessments today by signing up for a seven day free trial to any of the Pilla plans.

Click here to start your free trial. 



  1. Hazardous Chemicals (COSHH)

Many different types of hazardous chemicals are used in the hospitality industry. They include washing-up liquids, dishwasher detergents, rinse-aids, drain-cleaning products, oven cleaners, disinfectants. Many chemicals are hazardous because they’re corrosive and can cause skin and eye burns if splashed onto the body.

Ways to ensure your safety when dealing with these chemicals are:

  • Store chemicals safely in a lockable area and secure when not in use
  • Do not store chemicals in food and/or drink containers and make sure they are correctly labelled.
  • Ensure that safety data sheets are available where hazardous chemicals are stored and used
  • Ensure staff who use chemical are suitable trained and understand the manufacturer’s instructions before use


  1. Burns, scalds and cuts

Hospitality often involves some sort of food preparation and when cooking or handling hot food and kitchen equipment, employees need to always be vigilant of burn injuries to themselves or to others. Kitchen staff who are working long hours can become complacent when it comes to safety practices. It’s important to make sure the correct PPE is always used and proper care and attention is given to every task.

Burns can be very painful and may cause:

  • Red or peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

The best ways to treat a burn is following the advice below:

  • Immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop burning
  • Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes – Don’t use ice, iced water or ant creams.
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin.
  • Cover your burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on your hand.


  1. Electrical safety

Electrical hazards are everywhere in business. A hospitality venue will be full of small and large electrical equipment which varying voltage supplies. The equipment poses a day-to-day occupational risk if not managed well to both staff and customers. If not maintained or used correctly, then serious harm is possible.

Actions to reduce risk from electrical equipment:

  • Don’t overload extension devices and protect them wet conditions
  • Perform regular PAT testing on all items
  • Ensure staff only bring tested equipment onto the site for use
  • Conduct five-year fixed wire testing on time
  • Action facilities maintenance issues quickly
  • Conduct maintenance on bulk equipment in accordance


  1. Gas safety

Gas safety within the hospitality sector is also an integral part of keeping your business free of any potential hazards that could occur when there is gas onsite. Keeping your workplace safe and ensuring that you are compliant with all legal aspects of gas safety ensures a safer work environment for all staff, visitors and guests. Actions that can be taken to ensure gas safety are.

  • Ensure that all equipment used is in safe, working order.
  • You hold an up-to-date gas safety certificate, which is in date and compiled by a qualified Gas safe engineer.
  • Ensure that carbon monoxide tests are being completed.
  • Have an understanding of any potential warning signs, as some gases such as CO are odourless and highly poisonous which can lead to death because you can’t see, taste or smell it.
  • Ensure the building has good ventilation.
  • Fires and explosions can be caused by gas leaks so fully trained staff and evacuation procedures are a legal requirement.


  1. Fire safety

Fire within the hospitality sector is common, and the hotel industry being the most venerable type of building where fires can break out. Cooking equipment, careless smoking and faulty equipment are all leading causes of fires but following all strict fire safety and fire management can contain or stop a fire before they take hold.

Actions you can do to prevent or manage a fire;

  • Conduct fire risk assessments and ensure that all correct control measures have been put into place.
  • Ensure evacuation plans and procedures are up to date and fire drills are carried out.
  • Staff training has been completed and all appointed fire safety marshals are aware of their responsibilities in the event of a fire.
  • Ensure all fire escapes are kept clear and any combustible items are removed and disposed of as required,
  • Fire safety signage is clean, clear and concise.
  • Fire extinguishers have been installed and have been checked in accordance with the regulations.


  1. Violence and abuse

Hospitality venues often operate late into the night and serve alcohol while hosting their guests. It’s important you are aware of the risks always associated with this and provide suitable training to staff who deal with the public. If an aggressive situation arises the consequences can vary from a heated discussion to physical violence, it’s important that are prepared to deal with every eventuality – over the course of a career in hospitality it’s very likely that staff will have to deal with several instances of abuse.


  1. Lone working

The type of tasks being carried out by people who work in this sector often means that they may be working alone. It is the businesses responsibility to put in all control measures to ensure the wellbeing of all individuals who may experience short or long hours unaccompanied or isolated from others.

“Working alone is when an employee works without direct supervision, without a colleague nearby, or working out of earshot of others.”

What are the recognised control measures for lone working?

  • Ensure those that are lone working are trained in the work they are going to undertake
  • Monitor the work area of work to ensure the environment is safe and there are no hazards which could contribute to an accident
  • Maintain equipment to be used so the equipment remains in a safe working condition.
  • Agree on the method of communication between responsible person and the lone worker, this could be use of mobile phones or in-person checks
  • Set regular times to monitor the lone workers wellbeing
  • If the lone worker is customer facing at a late hour, this must be risk assessed separately to ensure suitable and sufficient control measures have been implemented. This is because there is risk of mental and physical abuse from members of the public. These control measures include installing CCTV, displaying CCTV warning signage, reviewing cash handling requirements, providing training on how to deal with confrontation, and providing emergency contact details for the senior management and the police.


  1. Stress and other mental health issues

The hospitality sector is well-known for demanding long, hard hours of its workers. At times its possible that staff may be become overwhelmed by the workload, stress or the abuse they face in their role. Supporting staff with their mental health as well as their physic health is critically important. Mental health issues are often not as noticeable to others as physical issues and so extra care and attention is required in ensuring staff are mentally healthy.

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