Whether you are responsible for a food processing plant, work elsewhere in the supply chain or are considering what to make for dinner, the food supply chain affects all of us. Food processing facilities have always had to meet extensive health and safety standards to keep staff and customers safe. Now more than ever, it’s critical to take the necessary steps to help keep food processors healthy and productive. Read on to learn about how to protect employees and employers in food processing facilities:
Steps Your Employees Can Take
Individual workers can take action to help protect themselves and their teammates from transmitting bacteria. Communication is key – remind employees to follow good hygiene practices and that they should:
- Wash or sanitize hands often, especially after making or receiving deliveries.
- Sneeze and cough into their sleeve. If using a tissue, discard immediately and wash hands afterward.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Avoid high-touch areas, where possible, or ensure hands are cleaned afterwards.
- Wear gloves when interacting with high-touch areas, when possible.
- Avoid touching their face with gloved hands.
- Remove gloves properly, dispose of safely and wash hands afterwards.
- Wash clothes on arrival at home.
- If ill, notify their supervisor immediately, complete a self-assessment and follow instructions.
Steps Employers Can Take
Minimizing threats in facilities helps to stop the spread of COVID-19. The following steps can help to keep employees, and your facility, healthy and safe:
Communicate with employees regularly about good hygiene practices and safety measures in place to protect them. Keep the lines of communication open and ensure all workers know who to contact to discuss COVID-19 concerns.
Use Proper Personal Protective Equipment
Ensuring teams are equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial to helping keep them safe and limiting contamination of food products. Each facility’s specific requirements will be unique, but the main types of PPE to consider are disposable gloves, face masks, eye protection, hearing protection, protective clothing and hair nets. As part of our 5-Point Protection Program, our team conducts detailed facility assessments to help build PPE programs that are customized to fit each facility’s unique requirements.
Ensure that your workspace is configured to facilitate physical distancing. Move workstations at least six feet apart to minimize employee contact. If this is not possible, consider installing barriers between workers and ensure they are wearing face masks. Other changes to consider include setting up multiple hand washing and sanitizing stations and adding additional clock in/out stations to limit employee contact.
Stagger employee start and break times to avoid groups in common spaces and encourage workers to social distance during their breaks. Request that workers do not carpool to and from work and walk in a single-file around the facility if possible.
Knowledge and awareness of healthy workplace practices is the best way to inform safe choices. Ensure teams are aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, proper handwashing practices, cough and sneeze etiquette and how to properly don masks or PPE. Download our Healthy Workplace Communications Kit for free posters and resources that promote healthy workplace practices including handwashing and hand sanitizing guides, how to properly don and doff gloves posters and more!
Implement a Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocol
Ramp up cleaning and disinfecting with an enhanced cleaning protocol. Our teams can assist with a facility assessment and recommend processes, products and innovative technologies such as electrostatic disinfecting and automated cleaning equipment to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Talk to us for expert advice and support.
Identify Safety Gaps
Workplace safety programs aren’t one-size-fits-all. Bunzl Safety offers on-site or virtual safety assessments to identify specific workplace hazards, determine exactly what safety equipment is required in each facility and identify gaps in product training. Contact us for more information or to book your site assessment.
Read more about steps you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19 in your facility here.