Safe use of deep fat fryers


This page provides information to employers in the catering industry on the safe emptying and cleaning of fryers.  Further detailed guidance can be found in the HSE Catering Information Sheet No 17 - Safety During Emptying and Cleaning of Fryers:

Fat fryers present a number of hazards in the catering environment including fire, burns from hot oil, contact with hot surfaces, fumes from boiling cleaning chemicals, eye injuries from splashes and slips from oil spillages.  The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, the health, safety and welfare of their employees.  Irrespective of the type of fryer that is used (i.e. manual, automated or semi-automated), the employer must ensure that it is well maintained, that staff are trained and are provided with suitable protective equipment and a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been carried out.

Remember - Burns from hot oil can be very serious.  It takes oil only 6 – 7 minutes to heat up but can take 6 – 7 hours to cool down again. 

Safe use fo fryers

  • Operate the fryer with the oil at the correct level.
  • Always set the temperature using guidance from the manufacturer – normally 170°C/347°F.  Never overload with food.
  • Lower the basket gently into oil.
  • Keep water away from fryers containing hot oil e.g. wet food or pots on stoves.
  • Never heat above 200°C as the oil is likely to burn and eventually ignite.
  • Drain cooked food over oil or use drip tray to avoid spills on floor.  Wipe spillages immediately.
  • Only use equipment i.e. tongs, baskets, skimmers, meant for use in hot oil.
  • When not in use but still required, turn oil temperature down to a cooler temperature.  Do not leave unattended.
  • Keep firefighting equipment nearby (e.g. Class F Extinguisher and/or fire blanket).
  • A risk assessment should be carried out on emptying and cleaning of deep fat fryers.  Oil filtering may be automated, semi-automated or carried out manually.
  • Automated and semi-automated filtering processes (using enclosed portable filtering units) avoid the need for you to come into contact with the oil, significantly reducing the risks.  You must however refer to the manufacturers guidelines for draining/filtering temperatures and safe operational requirements.  These, together with your own risk assessment, will determine the need for suitable personal protective equipment.

Manual oil filtering

  • Turn off electricity at wall socket and at the on/off control for gas appliances.
  • Allow oil to cool to 40°C/104°F (THIS WILL TAKE 6 to 7 HOURS).  Check with a probe thermometer.
  • Remove different parts, baskets, heat element, bottom tray, debris basket, etc.
  • Drain oil by drain valve, removable spout, lifting container, by tilting or use an oil filter machine.
  • Drain oil into suitable large container (heat resistant with carrying handles and cover or lid.


  • Remove the debris and leftover oil with a paper towel.
  • Clean with detergent in line with manufacturer’s instructions.  Use suitable cleaning chemicals, wear gloves and, if required, eye protection and aprons.
  • Rinse and drain, close drain valve.
  • Reassemble and refill with oil to safety level.
  • Keep guards/lids in place when not in use.
  • A legally authorised contractor must be engaged to remove waste oil from your premises.  DO NOT DISPOSE OF OIL DOWN THE DRAIN.


  • Staff must be properly trained in safe procedures for emptying and cleaning in accordance with the risk assessment carried out.
  • Make staff aware of the reasons why protective equipment should be used and ensure that it is worn.
  • Train staff to report maintenance issues with the fryers or any problems they experience when using them.


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