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Why can't I eat, drink or smoke in the workshop?


If employees do not follow a high standard of personal hygiene, or do not handle substances with care, solid materials or powder may get trapped under fingernails or transferred from overalls and clothing onto food. Where substances which are potentially hazardous by ingestion are used, employers should ensure that employees remove any contaminated clothing in the area set aside for this activity, thoroughly wash their hands and face and scrub their fingernails before eating, drinking or smoking. Employers should stress the importance of employees following good personal hygiene practices and of not eating food in the work area.


Where there is a risk of an area being contaminated by a Carcinogenic or Mutagenic substance, employers should ensure the following:

a) employees do not eat, drink, smoke or apply cosmetics in the areas concerned;

b) appropriate warning signs are prominently displayed;

c) areas are set aside where employees and others can eat, drink and smoke without risk of being contaminated by a carcinogenic or mutagenic substance;

d) appropriate hygiene measures are in place, including cleaning procedures to remove any contamination from walls, doors, other surfaces etc;

e) adequate washing facilities are provided so that employees who are exposed to a carcinogen or mutagen can maintain a high level of personal hygiene. This is consistent with the need to ensure adequate control of exposure and to avoid the spread of carcinogenic or mutagenic substances.


A sign prohibiting behaviour likely to increase or cause danger.

If carcinogens (such as hardwood) and/or mutagens (such as phenol) are being processed, the area likely to be contaminated must have a sign that prohibits eating, drinking and smoking. This safety sign must be a red circle with a pictogram, as pictured è

A combination sign is acceptable.


1. Employers should provide certain facilities to:

a) ensure that employees meet and maintain a standard of personal hygiene that is consistent with adequate control of exposure;

b) avoid the spread of substances hazardous to health;

c) reduce the risk of ingestion of substances hazardous to health.

2. The facilities should include:

a) adequate washing facilities – These should be sited in a convenient position but situated so that they do not themselves become contaminated. The facilities provided relate to the type and level of exposure;

b) changing facilities – These should be provided when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used or where outdoor clothing could be contaminated by substances hazardous to health. They should be located and designed to prevent the spread of contamination from protective clothing to personal clothing and from one facility to another, and to prevent contamination from getting on to the Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) from other equipment or protective clothing;

c) facilities for eating, drinking, etc – Employees should not eat, chew, drink or smoke in places that are contaminate by substances hazardous to health. This will help to reduce the risk of employees ingesting hazardous substances. If employers have to prohibit eating, drinking etc in certain areas, they should set aside an uncontaminated area or areas where these activities can be carried out. The eating and/or smoking area should be accessible conveniently to the working area and to washing facilities.

3. Employers responsibilities:

a) employers should ensure that not only are the hygiene measures provided, but also that employees are made aware, through information, instruction, training, of why, how, and when they must be used.

b) employers should ensure through appropriate supervision that employees use the facilities in accordance with agreed procedures.

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