Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Learn Lessons In Bad Times by Alan Maynard

It is reminiscent of buying an ice cream – single scoop double scoop – triple? The commonality between Ice Cream and The Economy is that both can have a radical effect on your waistline even though it is in totally opposite directions!

The points is that whether we are in recession be it single or quadruple is for pretty much all of us irrelevant. It is just an economic term for a set of trading conditions, which only serves to make us feel gloomy. So I ignore it.

I tend to see it as Good times and not so good times. The trick is to try and have a spatial awareness of what is going on and make sure you can adapt to change. The circumstances, which we now find ourselves in, are not new, we have had recession and not so good times before. What catches businesses and families alike out is that we are always too willing to believe that this time the good times are going to last forever and of course they never do. People believed that property could only ever rise in value and, not only that, believed that when they chose to get off the ever upward spiral that it would not only repay their mortgage but relieve them of every other form of excess, credit cards car loans that they had saddled themselves with on the way. Businesses behaved no better, the most common lament you hear is that Banks aren’t lending anymore. In some cases lack of access to funding seriously hampers growth but in so many cases what the business owner is really saying is “I can’t survive unless you lend me money” what does that say about the business? 

So how do we survive in less good times? Well here’s the good news if you have managed to survive so far, you almost certainly have a viable business – things aren’t booming but you are alive and you know that this state of affairs while long, will not last for ever. If you concentrate on your clients – give them what they want – and most of all be prepared to adapt to what is going on. Commercially and domestically alike you have to run lean as possible and wait for things to change. Complaining about how difficult things are is like moaning about the sea you are swimming in – you have two choices and on balance I prefer the swimming option.

Once we get into better times the best thing we can do is to remember what helped us survive in the bad – we don’t survive on credit – because in the difficult times we had to survive on our own cash - we continue to realise the value of our clients as opposed to believing that for everyone we lose there will be another one to replace them. And before we to decide to leap on to the property ladder and stretch ourselves beyond snapping – how about a little spatial awareness – do we really think that interest rates will stay this low for good? 

Alan Maynard
MD Ingot Services

First published EADT Business East Monthly February 2013

Monday, 25 February 2013

Duct Work Cleaning - The Rules and Regulations Governing Commercial Kitchens

The food manufacturing and hospitality industry is highly governed by strict regulation and legislation through authorities like the Food Standards Agency (FSA), and industry watchdogs like the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Cleaning contractors who specialise in duct work cleaning are also represented through organisations like the B&ES (The Building and Engineering Services Association) previously known as the HVCA (The Heating and Ventilation Contractors Association) who rebranded on 1st March 2012.

These governing bodies have been set up to help independently safeguard industry workers and the general public against potential negligence. Commercial operators and contractors who service or clean kitchen machinery, in particular ventilation ducts, through duct work cleaning must also show they follow the health and safety protocols and procedures and have a solid understanding of it.

However, given this level of regulation, it is surprising to learn that up to 80% of commercial kitchens have never had their ventilation ducts cleaned. These ducts, if left uncleaned, become a potential breeding ground for some seriously nasty bacteria which in time can become airborne giving rise to potential health problems.

It is for this reason that there is strict legislation surrounding the cleaning of commercial kitchens. But if followed correctly, it leads to best business practice and a healthy environment in which staff can work and customers can dine in the knowledge that they are eating in a safe environment.

Whilst there is strict legislation there is in fact no specific law clearly stating how clean your duct work needs to be. However, cleaning companies that carry out deep commercial kitchen cleaning must follow or comply with the B&ES TR/19 standards as set out in their best practice guide. Any contractor who employees staff to carry out duct work cleaning must be trained in accordance with the B&ES green book training scheme, previously known as HVCA certification.

CHAS registered contractors such as Ingot Services have undergone the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme. This registration can only be awarded once a contractor has passed the B&ES inspection and assessment and is evidence that  they have the knowledge to comply with all relevant Health and Safety legislation.

A scheme such as CHAS goes a long way to help provide the hospitality and FMCG industry with the confidence that any contractor employed to carry out duct work cleaning in particular, has all the necessary training, qualifications and competence required by the regulations.

To find out more about how Ingot Services can help  ensure you fully meet all the rules and regulations governing commercial kitchens and in particular the health and safety around duct work cleaning call today on 0800 731 7892.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

What Does Deep Duct Work Cleaning Really Entail, How is it Done?

Firstly this is not a job for the faint hearted. Deep duct work cleaning is hard manual labour that involves getting up in the very early hours of the morning so the work can be carried out with as little disruption as possible to the daily workings of a commercial kitchen. 

The process itself is extremely dirty as the walls of the duct are lined with grease and dust and given that this can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Listeria, protective clothing and masks must be worn in order to protect the individual. 

Whilst pressurised cleaners and steamers can be used to clean canopy hoods there is only really one way in which to carry out deep duct cleaning. At Ingot Services our qualified and trained staff have to get inside the duct itself, so they must be able to identify and be aware of any potential hazardous and dangers, not just to themselves but also to their colleagues working with them. 

The duct can be tight, dark, very slippery given the amount of grease and dust and the smell is usually enough to put anyone off. If a ventilation duct has not been cleaned for some years, it will be in particularly bad shape which can lead to a fire hazard, attracting vermin, growth of bacteria, mould and bad smells; all of which can then start to pollute the air being circulated around the whole building. Commercial kitchen ducts are required to be cleaned every two years and even this relatively short time can be enough for a serious build up to develop over the duct walls. 

Before cleaning can commence there is some preparation to be done. If canopy hoods are to be cleaned the surrounding work surfaces should be covered with protective plastic sheeting. This will ensure that once the disinfectants have been applied and pressurised stream used to remove the grease and cleaning products from the canopy, the resulting mixture has somewhere to run onto. If pressurized spray and steam are not used, any residue removed when cleaning by hand, also needs to be captured safely and not left to contaminate the surrounding areas. 

The same preparation applies for the deep duct work cleaning. Whilst inside the duct our specialist staff will apply disinfectant and basically scrub the surrounding duct walls by hand. They do this until every flat service and corner join of the internal duct are shiny and clean. 

Whilst deep duct work cleaning should be carried out every two years there are more regular checks and procedures that can be carried out in between that time with regular inspection and cleaning or changing of the duct filters. Duct filters helps to reduce the amount of external toxins getting inside the duct system and if changed regularly these continue to stay effective. With deep duct work cleaning undertaken every two years, regular inspections and filter changes, you will ensure that air quality is maintained, health risks are reduced and cost savings made.

To find out more about duct work cleaning and how it is done call us today on 0800 731 7892.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

How To Avoid Accidents From Handling Deep Fat Fryers

The main hazard associated with deep fat fryers is burns. Burns from cooking oils can be very serious. Oil takes only 6-7 minutes to heat up but can take 6-7 hours to cool down.

Burns can be caused in any one of the following ways:

  • If hot oil or fat splashes when food or the basket is dropped in carelessly 
  • If hot oil spits or boils over
  • If there is excess water or moisture in the food
Additionally spilled or splashed oil on the floor around a fryer is a major slip hazard. Fire from ignition of hot cooking oil or fat is also a major hazard, deep fat fryers cause one fifth of all accidental dwelling fires in the UK and nearly two thirds of commercial kitchen fires are caused through cooking.

Here are ten tips to help minimise thee occurrence of accidents from deep fat fryers.
  1. Ensure all machines are isolated from power when in not in use and especially before cleaning.
  2. In the event of a fire never put water on a fat fire.
  3. Lower food into the fat slowly
  4. Never put wet food into hot fire.
  5. Oil spillages must be cleaned up immediately.
  6. Do not top up deep fat fryers with oil from large containers.
  7. Use covers to prevent accidental immersion into hot fat.
  8. Before refilling check the drain tap is closed.
  9. All kitchen staff must be trained in how to safely empty and clean the deep fat fryer.
  10. Allow the oil to cool for at least six hours before draining.

Deep fat fryers can also ignite due to a build up grease in the exhaust vent for the hot air produced during cooking. As well as following the tips listed above you should consider having your commercial kitchen deep cleaned on a regular basis by a specialist company.

Ingot Services - specialists in grease extract cleaning and commercial kitchen cleaning.

With over twenty years of deep cleaning commercial kitchens and grease extract fans you can be sure that Ingot Services will clean your equipment to the highest standard.

Find out more about Ingot Services and your Grease Extract Cleaning options.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Degrease Is The Word – Top Tips To Keep Your Commercial Kitchen Extract Fan Spotless

 As commercial kitchen and duct work cleaning specialists, we are often asked our advice on aspects of health and safety, including cleaning the grease from extractor fans.

Keeping your commercial kitchen clean is an endless task, with many different aspects to consider. Cleaning the surfaces, floors, and the other visible areas within your kitchen are easily catered for with a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, but carrying out duct work cleaning for your kitchen extractor fan, with its many mechanical parts and hard to reach areas,  presents a much larger task.

Drawing up fumes, pollutants and airborne grease, your commercial kitchen extractor fan is a vital element of your safe and healthy workplace. Using duct work to take this contaminated air and remove it outside, the machinery inside consists mainly of heat pipes and fans, all of which need regular cleaning so that efficiency can be maintained, so that they don’t become clogged, and so that they don’t harbour potentially harmful bacteria.

Whether in a domestic or a commercial kitchen, keeping an extractor fan completely free of grease is near to impossible. But built up grease can be a big hazard, allowing dust and debris to stick to it and presenting the ideal place for bacteria to grow. Add to this the increased risk of fire from the fan overheating and it is clear to see the benefits of a regular cleaning routine.

Our Five Tips For Cleaning Kitchen Extractor Fans

1.   Regular, little and often

As is true with all cleaning, the more often you clean your kitchen extractor fan, the less effort and time it will take, and the lower the grease levels to be cleaned off each time.

2.   Cover everything else to avoid splattering

Sounds obvious, but covering the area underneath and for some distance around your extractor fan will ensure that the grease and grime you are cleaning off doesn’t fall and contaminate your other equipment and surfaces.  And you should wear protective clothing and gloves yourself – cleaning the extractor can be a messy job!

3.   Disassemble all the elements

Once you have ensured that the extractor fan is disconnected from the mains and any other power supply, your extractor fan can be taken apart and cleaned using the manufacturer’s instructions. The interior elements that will need cleaning will include the filter (unless it is a charcoal one, in which case it will need replacing), the fan (taking care not to get cleaning solution into any electrical components), and the light.

4.   Plenty of elbow grease!!

To degrease your extractor fan is no light weight task, especially as many extractors have highly polished or painted surfaces that will scratch should you use an abrasive cloth. Of course, with regular cleaning, less effort is needed each time.

5.   Professional kitchen and duct work cleaning

While methodical cleaning can make your extractor fan work harder and longer for you, it is also just as important to clean the entire ducting that carries the grease and contaminated air outside for you – ducting that is difficult or impossible to reach through ordinary access methods. So to do a full and thorough duct work cleaning job requires professional help from someone who has the right tools and mechanical knowledge to enable them to reach every part of your duct work. In addition, it is a legal requirement to have your duct work cleaning done regularly by professionals.

Ingot Services – Your Professional Kitchen Extract and Duct Work Cleaning Company

With a proven track record of over 25 years in cleaning commercial kitchens, at Ingot Services we work with businesses across the spectrum of industries. We are fully HVCA registered, as well as being members of the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme and a Safe Contractor Registered firm. And when we have completed your duct work cleaning, we will provide you with a certificate, recognised by your insurers and fire authorities, to prove you have carried out your requirements by law.

To find out more about Ingot Services and our kitchen extractor fan and duct work cleaning services, please call on 0800 731 7892.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Legionnaires Disease – Advice on Keeping the Bug at Bay from Duct Work Cleaning Specialists

Legionnaires' disease makes big news, and how to minimise the risk of it is a subject we’re very often asked to advise upon when carrying out commercial duct work cleaning. Here we look at how this potentially fatal disease can arise in water systems and how regular duct work cleaning can minimise the chance of it arising in your premises.

What is Legionnaires' Disease?

Legionnaires is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by the aerobic Legionella bacterium. A severe form of pneumonia, the symptoms of legionnaires' disease include flu like illness with tiredness, headache, aching muscles, loss of appetite, coughing, chills and high fever. But while infectious, legionnaires' disease is not spread from person to person, rather it is spread by contaminated aerosols – small droplets of water that evaporate very quickly – from a contaminated water system. Generally, breathing in these aerosols is the cause of infection.

So how do these aerosols become contaminated?

Legionella bacteria thrive in water – but not just any water. Widely distributed in the environment, legionella bacteria have been found in waterways, ponds and puddles, as well as in rain water, but they are mostly an issue when found in man-made water systems, such as in air conditioning systems, spas and swimming pools.

Why is Legionnaires' Disease Such Big News?

In the UK we are lucky that legionnaires' disease is a relatively uncommon illness – affecting an average of between 400-500 people a year. Although treatable with intravenous antibiotics, unfortunately around 10% of people, generally those in high risk groups, will die of complications caused by legionnaires' disease.

As well as the potentially fatal aspect of this illness, due to the way in which it is spread, legionnaires' often makes big news because of the size of the outbreaks, such as the summer 2012 outbreak in Edinburgh, Scotland in which three men died and more than 100 were treated for the illness.

Why Water System and Duct Work Cleaning Helps Prevent Legionnaires' Disease

It is for good reason that many questioned the link between the Edinburgh outbreak of legionnaires' disease and the current economic climate. In the UK we have strict legislation in place to ensure that water systems used for air conditioning in commercial buildings are subject to regular maintenance and professional duct work cleaning. But budgets for maintenance have been slashed in many businesses, sometimes prolonging the period between cleans – with potentially devastating consequences.

The two most important factors for preventing an outbreak of legionnaires' disease are to ensure water is either cooled to below 20°C or heated to over 60°C, and to keep the water from stagnating and free of impurities. With careful management, including regular air conditioning and duct work cleaning, risks of harmful bacteria, including legionella, are reduced significantly.

Ingot Services – Your Professional Duct Work Cleaning Company

Ingot Services are professional duct work cleaning company with over 25 years’ experience working with customers across the whole spectrum of industries.

To find out more about how Ingot Services can help minimise the risk of legionnaires' disease and other harmful bacteria with duct work cleaning call today on 0800 731 7892.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Health and Safety Risks in a Commercial Kitchen

According to the Health and Safety Executive, slips, trips, falls, manual handling, which can result in musculoskeletal injuries and exposure to hot, or harmful substances cause most accidents in commercial kitchens. 

So what can you do to minimise the risk of accidents in your kitchen?

Slips, Trips and Falls 
Most trips and slips occur due to wet floors, remember to:-
  • Wipe up spillages and dry the floor
  • Set up "wet floor" warning signs
  • Cordon of areas if necessary
  • Keep floors well maintained

Manual Handling

  • Never push, pull or drag heavy items
  • Ask a colleague for help in lifting heavy items
  • Use a lifting device where necessary

Exposure to Hot and Harmful Substances 

Substances such as oil and other fluids are commonly found in  commercial kitchens. To reduce the chance of an accident:-
  • Always ensure containers of hot liquid are covered when no one is directly working with them.
  • Take care when working in proximity to hot liquids

Fire Risks

The risk of fire in a commercial kitchen is never far away so it is essential that all gas and electrical appliances are maintained and suitable for the job required. Another fire risk is grease build up on kitchen extract fans, for this reason insurers now insist that they are cleaned on a regular basis by a commercial duct work cleaning company.

How can Ingot Help?

Ingot Services – Specialists In Grease Extract Cleaning and Commercial Kitchen Cleaning.
With over twenty years of deep cleaning commercial kitchens and grease extract fans you can be sure that Ingot Services will clean your system to the highest standard and issue the necessary certificates and photographic evidence to satisfy your insurer.

Find out more about Ingot Services and your grease extract cleaning options.