Some of the biggest hazards facing food manufacturers are obvious, but others are less so. There are many threats that loom over any production line in every factory in the world. Employees in the meat, seafood, and other food processing industries face numerous health and safety hazards while on the production line and need to be cognizant of these threats to perform their jobs safely over extended periods of time. We thought it would be helpful to identify some of these hazards in hopes of creating more awareness to these dangers as they are ever-present within this particular kind of working environment. iNECTA appreciates its food manufacturer users and would like this article to serve as a guide for maintaining best safety practices.
The first major safety hazard that continually affects food manufacturer employees is ergonomic difficulties. Some food manufacturing jobs require repetitive motion whereby the employee may eventually develop musculoskeletal disorders in relation to their specific role in the factory.
The next hazard that the industry faces is high noise levels. Often times the machines utilized in factories designed for food manufacturing operate at intensely high noise levels. The intensity of the repetitive loud noise makes it very challenging for employees to re-mediate and can cause partial hearing loss if the proper precautions are not taken.
Another major hazard is the chance of employees taking a tumble on the job. Slips, trips and falls are a major issue in food manufacturing settings. As previously mentioned, the machines and the factory floor are constantly in need of wash downs which make the working conditions slick or greasy. This is obviously a safety hazard and is a common reason for thousands of lawsuits relating to workplace injuries.
The next hazard is chemical contact. Employees in food processing factories routinely encounter chemical soaps, detergents, etc. that are designed to keep food safe and away from microorganisms that can be harmful to employees and otherwise contaminate the working area. Not to mention harmful refrigerants which are used to store products and keep them fresh, these refrigerants contain ammonia which is considered to be highly dangerous in any form.
In addition, the equipment within the factory or workplace can be a major safety hazard. There have been countless reports of machinery used for food manufacturing purposes taking limbs and fingers. If the company is negligible, the machinery may not be up to code in terms of safety measures. This ends up costing businesses and employees dearly.
Lastly, depending on the industry, biological hazards may be present. For instance, employees dealing with poultry and other birds are exposed to biological hazards due to dust, feces and other contaminants.
There are measures for employers to take which would effectively protect employees from these common workplace hazards. Employers must have PPE or personal protective equipment readily available for employees that are required to working in areas that are considered potentially dangerous. That is, areas where heavy machinery is being operated or where conditions are slick or moist where accidents are likely to occur. Employers must also train their employees to work under these conditions and ensure that their safety comes first always.