By Ed Smith, freelance journalist.
People have become much more aware about health and safety in recent times as a result of the pandemic, but this is nothing new and particularly in areas like food production where a lack of health and safety could have very serious repercussions for public health. There are stringent health and safety measures in place that all food manufacturing businesses must abide by and a few key considerations for these businesses.
A Unique Industry
Food manufacturing is unlike any other industry as there can be issues surrounding imports/exports, meat, disease and viruses, cold chain logistics and fresh food standards that must be maintained. It is a heavily regulated industry and every business that operates in food manufacturing needs to ensure compliance not only to avoid penalties and fines but also to protect their staff, customers and public health as a whole.
One of the main H&S considerations for food manufacturers is exposure to hazardous substances. Every day, employees will be handling potentially toxic and hazardous substances, which can include disinfectants, alcohol rubs, food agents and acid along with dust inhalation. To reduce the risk of health problems, employees should be provided with sufficient personal protection including masks, gloves and goggles and offered sufficient training in how they can manage these hazardous substances safely.
There is also a major risk of infecting food produce or food produce infecting workers, which is a major issue, particularly when it comes to handling meat. The key here is having procedures in place and ensuring that staff are properly trained in how to safely handle food/produce to prevent food safety issues. Statistics show that 600 million fall ill from contaminated food each year, so this is a major issue that needs to be taken seriously and will be in the public eye for some time to come as a result of COVID-19.
As with many types of manufacturing work, food manufacturing can also be a hazardous environment for staff to work in. Falls from height, slippery surfaces, accidents using machinery, manual handling and even exposure to loud noise can all be health and safety issues that businesses need to address. On top of this, businesses need to ensure that employee wellbeing is taken seriously and that staff are not overworked. Accidents and injuries could usually have been prevented and could result in legal action.
As you can see, health and safety must be taken seriously in food manufacturing and can pose a threat to public health. Businesses in this industry need to make sure that they abide by health and safety regulations at all times and do all that they can to protect the health of their staff, customers and public health as a whole.