22nd May 2018 – HSE Warns That Food Manufacturing Safety Requires Improvement
According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the UK’s independent regulator, the food manufacturing sector needs to significantly improve upon their current standards of safety and risk management. In a bid to enhance standards across the industry, nationally, the regulators have launched a new inspection programme which will undertake comprehensive auditing of food manufacturing organisations.
Strengthening standards through proactive inspections
The programme of inspection is designed to promote significant improvements in safety standards, through a schedule of proactive inspections for all food manufacturers. The inspections will be unannounced, and serve a dual purpose – to encourage firms to strengthen standards in anticipation of audit, and to identify those organisations who fall short of standards during the inspections themselves.
Health issues driving the call to change standards of safety
According to the HSE, there are two significant risks which contribute to the majority of food manufacturing-related illness and injury. The first issues from occupational asthma, which can be triggered through flour dust exposure in factories responsible for the creation of cakes, biscuits and cakes. The second is a growing issue stemming from poor standards of safety in manual handling across the sector, which can lead to musculoskeletal illness and injury, predominantly through repetitive tasks involving physical labour.
To tackle these issues specifically, the HSE has released a manufacturing sector plan, which is designed to prioritise auditing against safety measures to address them. The hope is that the new approach will significantly reduce the incidence of both occupational lung disease, and MSDs. According to their data, flour dust exposure is the second most common cause of occupational asthma, while approximately 20% of employees in the sector report injuries which stem from poor practice in manual handling.
To further address the current issues around safety, the HSE has promised that organisations who fail to meet standards will be subject to significant penalties. Through enforcements, it is hoped that manufacturers will be pushed to take proactive measures to address performance in health and safety, to avoid repercussions.
300,000 workers requiring protection from industry hazards
The Head of Manufacturing for the HSE, John Rowe, has commented: “The food manufacturing sector is made up of over 300,000 workers and its health and safety record needs to improve. This inspection initiative will look to ensure effective management and control of targeted health risks. The HSE is calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website. Food manufacturing companies should do the right thing by protecting workers’ health; everyone has the right to go home healthy from work.”
SMI’s customers include a number of Food Manufacturers, many of whom take advantage of our range of respiratory protectors to inhibit ingestion of dust particles. Check out the HSE’s guidelines on working in environments producing high levels of dust, and browse our range to ensure that your employees are protected in line with the new standards.