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Kitchen appliances

Many different appliances can be found in a work kitchen with common risks linked to electricity, cleanliness and frequency of use (Source: Food poisoning statistics).


  • Test and tag electrical items.
  • Read instructions before use.
  • Remove faulty appliances.

Potential harm

  • Burns
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Electric shocks

Identified hazards and controls

Boiling water units


  • Poorly placed boiling water units may increase the chance of burns. This includes placing units too high where people must reach up or in locations that make it awkward for people to use.
  • Leaking units.
  • Boiling water supply is hot enough to scald.

What workers can do

  • Watch what you are doing when using boiling water units.
  • Keep the cup close to the nozzle to avoid splashing.
  • Don’t overfill your cup.

What employers can do

  • Include boiling units as part of health and safety inspections.
  • Select hot water units with safety devices built in, such as maximum temperature settings, to reduce the risk of scalding.
  • Use signage to warn users of hot water or steam, especially if urns are used.
  • Arrange maintenance of faulty equipment.

Portable kitchen appliances


  • Contact with exposed wiring or a faulty appliance.
  • Immersing an electrical appliance in water for cleaning purposes.
  • Failing to isolate an appliance from the power supply before washing.
  • Touching the hot areas of appliances.

What workers can do

  • Do not use faulty appliances.
  • Look at the electrical cable to make sure it isn’t frayed, cut or broken before using the appliance.
  • Always turn off and disconnect an electrical appliance from the power source before cleaning.

What employers can do

  • Include kitchen appliances as part of health and safety inspections.
  • Provide signage, such as ‘Caution: Hot’, next to appliances that get hot or emit radiant heat for a period after use, such as sandwich toasters.
  • Place small signs near appliance power points as a reminder to switch off power and disconnect from the socket before cleaning.
  • Test and tag all electrical appliances.
  • Remove any appliance which has been identified for repair from the kitchen.
  • Make the instructions for use accessible to workers in a known location.

Microwave ovens


  • Removing food from a microwave oven which is situated at or above eye level.
  • Spilt food is left uncleaned in the microwave.
  • Use of wrong type of food containers and covers in the microwave.
  • Malfunction or misuse may cause leakage of radiation from the microwave unit.

What workers can do

  • Don’t leave the microwave unattended when using it to cook or reheat food. The microwave oven at work may have a different wattage from the one you use at home, so cooking times may vary to what you are used to.
  • Use oven mitts or a hand towel to remove hot food from the microwave.
  • Clean up spills inside the microwave.
  • Check what utensils and containers can be used in the microwave as these may be different from your microwave at home.
  • Only use electrical appliances that meet Australian Standards.

What employers can do

  • Where possible, place microwaves on a countertop or built in at a height where it is easy to see inside and load or unload contents.
  • Encourage microwave users to clean up spills immediately.
  • Place a sign on the oven door listing the types of food containers and coverings which should not be used in the microwave, like metal objects and foil.
  • Remove the microwave from service if it appears damaged.

Convention ovens and stovetops


  • Hotplates accidentally left on after a user has finished cooking and left the area.
  • Using pots and pans that are not suitable for the type of cooker hotplate or rings.
  • Gripping oven shelves that are hot enough to cause burning.
  • Removing hot trays from an oven after cooking food.

What workers can do

  • Use oven mitts or a hand towel to remove hot food from the oven.
  • Check that you have turned the oven or cook top off when finished.

What employers can do

  • Consider purchasing a cooker that has warning lights to alert users to a hot surface.
  • Provide pots and pans designed to be used on the type of cooker hotplate or rings in your workplace and ensure that they are the correct diameter for the hot plate.
  • Provide good quality oven mitts.

Knives and scissors


  • Contact with sharp and serrated knives that have been left on benchtops, placed in the dishwasher or sink, or put away in drawers with other cutlery items.
  • Wrong choice of knife or inappropriate method of cutting food, resulting in knife slipping and cutting.
  • Blunt knives.

What workers can do

  • Use knife blocks for very sharp knives.
  • Take care when washing and drying utensils.
  • Use chopping boards when using sharp knives.

What employers can do

  • Provide safe storage for very sharp knives used in food preparation, such as a knife block.
  • Advise workers not to put sharp knives in drawers hidden among sundry cutlery.
  • Instruct workers not to put very sharp knives in the dishwasher, but to wash them by hand carefully, avoiding contact with the blade.
  • Provide a cutting surface, such as a cutting board.
  • Sharpen knives regularly.

More information



Page last reviewed: 09 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 29 Jun 2022