In any food industry environment, such as a supermarket or eatery, stringent regulations for the health and safety of the public and the employees must be upheld. It is the job of any health and safety coordinator to oversee that certain practices are in place and being followed per the guidelines. There are several ways to ensure the general health and safety of those involved. Some methods include the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), machinery Lock-Out Tag-Out (LOTO) and the use of computerized equipment for food safety. Here is a closer look at three of the commonly used practices for health and safety in the food industry:
1. The Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Workers in the food industry will be trained, often by completing a computer course, on the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Such equipment is used to protect employees from hazards and accidents on the job. Some examples of PPE include cut-resistant gloves worn when slicing and cutting, heat- and burn-resistant gloves when using a hot oven, dish-washing gloves to protect the user from chemicals, and insulated freezer gloves. Other types of PPE include slip-resistant shoes when working in the kitchen or dish room, where greasy spills and water may cause a slipping hazard. Slip-resistant mats are also useful.
The health and safety inspector or coordinator will often visit these environments. He or she will make certain the supervisors provide access to PPE. In addition, health and safety contractors and inspectors want to be certain the employees are utilizing the Personal Protective Equipment properly. If an employee does not use the PPE as specified, they may be reprimanded or written up by the manager of the department.
2. Lock-Out Tag-Out Practices
Workers in the food industry utilize various types of machinery every day. Many of these machines, such as meat slicers, compactors, and hydraulic systems can be hazardous when not used properly. In some cases, workers have been injured when they believed a machine was turned off, when in actuality the machine was on and in an operable state. The practice of Lock-Out Tag-Out is very important for all workers in the food industry to learn. It is often a required computer training course that must be completed by employees before they are permitted to use machinery.
As part of the Lock-Out Tag-Out process, all machinery must be locked and rendered inoperable at the end of a shift or before maintenance workers come to inspect the unit. Any movable parts must be completely removed from the unit. Electrical power must be disconnected as well and a lock must be placed on the power source. In addition, there must be a tag placed on the equipment and on the power switches.
When tagging a piece of equipment or power switch, the employee will need to write specific information on the tag. This will typically include the employee's name and department, as well as the time and date the lockout was performed. In some cases, a supervisor may need to initial the tag. After the procedure of Lock-Out Tag-Out has been performed, the employee involved should double check to ensure everything is in order and performed correctly.
3. The Use of Modern Computerized Equipment for Food Safety
Before the development of handheld computerized tablets and equipment, recording data in the food industry was done in writing. That is, employees would record the temperatures, date, and time of prepared foods on a paper log and clipboard. These days, assessments are made more accurately and productively by the use of computerized systems that synchronize with thermometers and probes. Basically, many companies in the food industry now use a mobile handheld computerized device to record information. Record keeping is more accurate this way, with less chance for error. Computer-based training programs teach employees how to use this system properly.
The information that is logged on the computer system will be sent directly to the health and safety inspectors. Health and safety personnel also visit the workplace a few times a year to check upon these practices. For additional information, contact a health and safety contractor in your area.