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Facing hazards in the fast-paced food industry


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Facing hazards in the fast-paced food industry - 1

Facing hazards in the fast-paced food industry The food & drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, contributing more than £28bn to the economy every year. This industry and its employees face increased demand from a constantly growing population. As pressure to escalate production increases, the industry cannot afford to neglect the safety of its workers. Food processing and manufacturing facilities must be kept clean and sanitary to protect food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses. Chemical soaps, detergents, sanitizers and disinfectants are routinely used to help keep food free of unwanted microorganisms and other contaminants. These chemicals are vital to the safety of any food production process, but they can also be hazardous to the workers that come into contact with them. The same is true of the harmful refrigerants used to store products and keep them fresh, the majority of which contain anhydrous ammonia which is capable of burning the skin upon contact. It is essential that employees who are exposed to these substances have access to appropriate safety showers and eye/face wash equipment. More recently, the industry is facing a new danger in the shape of COVID-19. The meat processing industry has particularly suffered in terms of mass site breakouts amongst employees. Though not a hazardous chemical, certain safety showers can be used to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 amongst workers and improve general hygiene measures. Here we outline some of the main considerations. In order to minimise any injury with a swift decontamination in the event of a spill or splash, emergency safety showers must be located within 20 metres, or 10 seconds reach, of a hazard. However, if a chemical is particularly hazardous, the safety shower and/or eye/face wash equipment must be placed immediately adjacent to the hazard. Personnel should be instructed on the safe and proper use of the emergency safety equipment and be advised of its location. Emergency safety equipment must be visually inspected and activated weekly along with an annual service to guarantee reliable and effective operation and conformance to European and International standards. According to these standards, the water delivered by emergency safety showers should be tepid, between 15-37C (59-98.6F). At temperatures above 37C (98.6F) there is the added danger of scalding and increased absorption of harmful chemicals into the skin. Prolonged exposure to water below 15C (59F) increases the risk of thermal shock or hypothermia and prevents the casualty using the shower to decontaminate effectively for the recommended 15 minutes. View a summary of the standards at: Safety shower considerations For a hygienic and sterile environment, it’s important that all safety showers inside a food and drink facility are constructed from stainless-steel. This ensures the showers are durable, corrosion resistant and easy to clean. Both the EN 15154 and the internationally recognised American National Standard, ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 provide uniform minimum requirements for the performance, use, installation, testing, maintenance and training of emergency safety shower and eyewash equipment.

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Facing hazards in the fast-paced food industry - 2

should be filled with an appropriate non-toxic disinfectant. Hughes advise the use of electrolysed water, also known as Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL), it is at least 99% water, non-toxic and totally safe for human use. For a more permanent solution the new walk-through decontamination booth is ideal. Designed to cleanse PPE before entering a clean area or when doffing PPE to leave work for the day, this unit is a durable structure for use both indoor and outdoor use. Keeping your workers safe The food and drink industries are varied and complex with many potential health and safety risks. It is...

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