Lock down business by keeping kitchens safe

The BS6173 safety standard represents a business opportunity which equipment suppliers and manufacturers should grasp with both hands when fitting new kitchens, writes Steve McMahon of S&S Northern.

"The BS6173 standard was actually introduced as a health and safety requirement in commercial kitchens to improve the working environment in the kitchen.

There had been concern for years that kitchen staff opening up in the mornings were turning on the appliances to warm up the kitchen, but not turning on the fans, maybe because they were noisy or draughty. This resulted in staff breathing in the fumes from the gas, including carbon monoxide, and raised concerns over their health.

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BS6173 specifies that gas should not be available in a commercial kitchen if the ventilation system is not working. Although it doesn’t apply to all commercial kitchens retrospectively, for a kitchen going through a major refurbishment, or being fitted out as new, compliance to the standard is essential.

A gas interlock system monitors when the kitchen fans are operational, either by using air pressure differential switches or by using a current monitor.

Once the interlock has established that the fans are working, the gas valve will open. If, at any time, the fans fail or are turned off, the interlock panel will see this and drop the gas solenoid, ensuring gas is only present when the ventilation system is working.

Gas control and interlock systems, which allow a commercial kitchen to meet the BS6173, are readily available to suppliers.

The market has expanded rapidly over the past three years since the British Standard was last modified in 2009. This current financial year has been the most successful we at S&S Northern have experienced in 16 years of trading, at a time when so many businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water.

It demonstrates the strength of the market and the opportunities that are available out there.

By carefully studying the industry requirements and supplying precisely what is needed in the given timeframe, manufacturers of gas interlock systems provide exactly what customers in the commercial kitchens market need.

Price is obviously a key area of consideration, with customers requiring a quality product at a highly competitive price.

Many customers also require immediate or fast delivery and by holding a whole range of gas interlock systems in stock for every customer’s needs, manufacturers like ourselves are able to release the burden on suppliers to have excessive stock on their shelves. A major refurbishment or a new kitchen requires considerable time, and downtime
in a kitchen costs money which owners can ill afford.

Owners are required to comply with the BS6173 to protect their own health and that of the staff working in the kitchen, so making a commercial kitchen as reliable as possible is of great importance.

Manufacturers have therefore designed their products to be maintenance free and most carry a three-year warranty to ensure that downtime can be minimised.

For those new to the market, gas interlock manufacturers understand BS6173 inside out and are highly experienced in responding to the needs of the market. They are therefore able to provide expert advice to suppliers to identify the correct product for each individual kitchen, ensuring that suppliers can always meet their customers’ needs with high quality equipment quickly and cost effectively."

Steve McMahon is Managing Director of S&S Northern, a leading UK designer and supplier of gas safety products for commercial kitchens. www.snsnorthern.com

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