Planning for Success: Five Steps to Reduce Injuries in Food Processing

In the fast-paced world of manufacturing, food and beverage processing plants face one of the highest rate of workplace injuries. Fortunately, implementing some basic, routine practices can significantly reduce risk and help food processing workers stay healthy and productive:

1. Infrastructure Check:
A safer environment starts with a facility safety checklist:

  • Floors: Slips and falls are one of the most common accidents in food and beverage processing plants. Using a combination of non-slip flooring and rubber matting for standing areas will allow workers to move quickly AND safely between workspaces.
  • Regular Maintenance: Scheduled maintenance checks and service of all commercial and smaller scale equipment ensures it’s operating at optimal levels. Take note of any wear and tear to address potential safety issues proactively, and help extend the lifespan of the equipment.
  • Proper Storage: Where and how tools, such as knives, are stored is important. Establish designated areas for each tool, keep them away from pathways to prevent physical injury and at the same time minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Non-Slip Safety Footwear: To help further mitigate the risk of slips and falls, ensure that all workers are equipped with the proper, non-slip footwear.
  • Role-Specific Protective Gear: Different tasks require different gear! For instance, those handling knives need metal-mesh gloves, wrist and forearm guards and aprons. Workers exposed to hazardous chemicals should be wearing gloves, goggles, and respirators. Ear protection, such as earplugs, is mandatory for employees in proximity to loud machinery.

3. Environmental Safety:

  • Spill Management: Implement a clear and efficient protocol for spill management I including steps for immediate containment, proper cleaning procedures, and the use of the appropriate spill kits and absorbents.
  • Add a line or two on wet floor signs, orange hazard cones etc.

4. Hand Hygiene: Proper hand and personal hygiene is a critical step in preventing the risk of cross-contamination. Post instructional signage on hand washing, ensure handwashing stations are easily accessible, adequately stock them with soap and sanitizers and place them strategically throughout the facility.

5. Fit-for-Purpose:

  • Cutting and Slicing Equipment: Different types and quantities of food require specific types of blades and settings. Ensure these meet the specific requirements of the task and are checked regularly to reduce the risk of operator injury.
  • Packaging Machinery: Filling and sealing machines should be specifically designed to accurately measure, fill, and seal products into containers or packaging to maximize efficiency, minimize waste and ensure food safety.
  • Material Storage and Handling: Storage needs vary based on volume and type of Material. Purpose-built products, like Rubbermaid’s new Food and Tote Boxes, offer safe, hygienic solutions for storage and transportation of a wide range raw materials, ingredients and finished products.

For more expert safety tips, training, site assessments, new product innovations and more, reach out to your local Bunzl Safety representative or contact us.


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