Simon Frost, chair of CESA, takes a look at the new HSE guidelines on the specification and installation of solid fuelled commercial kitchen appliances.

Solid fuel appliances, such as charcoal ovens and grills, tandooris and wood-fired ovens, are becoming increasingly popular – it’s not just about the flavour they add to foods, it’s also the theatre of cooking.

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While chefs are embracing the extra variety these products bring to their cooking options, it’s vital that they are installed and ventilated safely to protect against the risks of exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) gas.

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Surprisingly, until recently there was no guidance on solid fuel appliance safety. Now the HSE has put together a guidance leaflet, Catering Information Sheet number 26 (CAIS26), called ‘Preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens’.

It was compiled with help from CESA, CEDA and members belonging to both associations. The leaflet is available free to download from the HSE website here.

Even moderate exposure to CO can lead to serious permanent ill-health, or even death. Early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to common ailments like flu, but can escalate quickly.

This is why it is so important to ensure solid fuel appliances are installed, ventilated and maintained correctly. Also remember that a solid fuel appliance will continue to produce CO until all the fuel is extinguished.