As food manufacturers are under more pressure than ever, it's never been more important to ensure the safety of staff.
Beyond the direct impact of employee injuries and accidents, having members of staff off as a result of an unsafe environment can have catastrophic knock-on effects including extra costs, reduced or slower production, and even increased insurance costs. To help ensure the continued and effective production of food goods, here's a handy checklist to help keep your staff safe.
Food handling is sensitive and requires many items of personal protective equipment. Not only to protect the employees, but to ensure the standard of food produced is fit for purpose and not contaminated. Food safe gloves and hair nets help to hygienically prepare food, while kitchen footwear will help prevent slips and trips thanks to a sturdy non-slip sole.
Depending on the type of food produced it may be prudent for staff to wear goggles to protect their eyes from accidental splashes of cleaning fluids. Similarly, PPE that includes waterproof aprons or tabards can prevent damage to clothing and offers an additional layer of protection on top of lab coats or overalls.
Depending on the type of food manufactured at the plant, it's important to know if your staff have any allergies that could be triggered. The most common foods that cause an allergic reaction include eggs, milk, nuts, and fish. Symptoms can include a mild itchy sensation, a raised rash, swelling, vomiting, and in more serious cases anaphylaxis.
It's important that staff are aware of what to do should someone suffer an allergic reaction. Under the Health and Safety Regulations Act it's imperative that there are adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities, and people so your employees can be given immediate help.
Employee safety training is critical for a safe work environment, and employees must know how to use machinery safely and correctly. Staff should be routinely reminded of the company's safety requirements to ensure understanding. And regular training should take place and include everything from machine safety to refresher courses on manual handling and protocols.
Slips, trips, or falls account for around a quarter of non-fatal injuries at work each year, and can result in sprains, muscle tears, broken bones, and lacerations. Effective controls to limit these workplace hazards include installing nonslip flooring, keeping walking surfaces clean and free of trip hazards, and requiring workers to wear slip-resistant shoes or boots.
Food manufacturing workers can also be exposed to further injury from machinery. Investing in machine guarding reduces the chances a staff member coming in to contact with the moving parts of a machine, while barriers, covers, guardrails, and safety nets over open surfaces will further reduce exposure to accidents.