Is your workplace familiar with all areas of risk management?
No matter which workplace you’re in there will always be risks to your safety and wellbeing. You will encounter these risks every day. There may always be a risk of tripping, cutting or burning yourself while performing any of your daily work tasks. That’s why it’s so important to have a system in place for managing these risks in your workplace.
In the Australian food processing industry, these risks are very well established now. Every day you’ll find work environments in the industry with potentially hazardous tasks including the handling of hot liquids, walking on slippery surfaces, and noisy machinery. Other tasks may involve the risks of getting cuts, bruises or crushing limbs in machinery.
Industry safety standards and regulations help to ensure that all employers, employees and students are aware of them. This ensures a safer workplace for everyone involved. Everyone in your workplace needs to be aware of these risks and be doing their part to prevent them from causing an incident.
The 3 main areas of risk management
When risk management is used correctly it can be a proactive process. It can help your workplace respond to changes fast and foster continuous improvement in safety standards. It should be well thought out with plans and consistent structures in place. All employees should have the foresight to recognise when elements of a task can become a hazard or have an associated risk.
In the food processing industry risk management is broken down into three main areas; identifying hazards, assessing risk, and controlling those hazards. These three areas are focussed on to keep risks of an incident down to an absolute minimum.
One easy example of risk management could be identifying a factory floor prone to forklift traffic, assessing the risk of staff being hit by oncoming forklifts, and then installing hazard stripe tape to indicate where staff are allowed to walk.
When you stick to these three main areas of risk management it becomes easier to be proactive about workplace safety. It’s a simple system that everyone can follow and improve upon whenever a new risk to safety presents itself in your workplace.
5 jeopardy areas for food processing
Here at the National Food Institute, we’ve established five jeopardy areas for the food processing industry. These areas all deserve special attention when it comes to risk management. We believe that by sticking to these five areas any food processing business can set themselves up for success.
Workers safety should always be the number one priority for any workplace whether it’s in the food processing industry or not. Workers should always have access to a safe environment, safe equipment and know of safety procedures passed down to them via workplace training.
In a food factory, you may be able to identify any hazards that pose a threat to the safety of your workers. Floors are often exposed to liquids or food products that can make them slippery and unstable to walk on. Simple fixes can be implementing rubber mats on the floors and anti-slip tape on steps. Personal protective equipment also has a role to play here too. You could make it a requirement for your workers to wear shoes with a proper grip on the outsoles.
It doesn’t take much to jeopardise the quality of food. Exposure to the wrong temperatures or foreign contaminants is enough to spoil food. When an issue with food safety is identified it can cause the costly disposal of a factory’s product or a product recall if it’s identified after the products are on shelves.
Food safety is important for the safety of your consumers too. The mishandling of ingredients in a food processing environment can lead to food poisoning and other related illnesses after your consumers have eaten your food.
Let’s look at the way that risk management can be applied to food safety. In the workplace, you could identify that some food ingredients are starting to spoil from being stored at the wrong temperature. You could assess the risk by performing regular temperature checks to determine when ingredients are exposed to the wrong temperatures. You could then control temperatures for ingredients by upgrading storage protocols and enforcing a temperature check log to monitor temperatures and the condition of ingredients.
By regularly assessing the quality of your food you can maintain consistency with your products. Assurance measures should be implemented to ensure a consistent standard of food production processes. Quality checks should be carried out daily to ensure all stages of food production comply with a certain standard.
Enforcing quality standards in your food processing environment is very reliant on your staff. All your staff need to be fully aware of what contributes to the high quality of your products. They need to be trained on how to measure and manage good quality during all stages of food production.
So let’s put this into practice with the three main areas of risk management. If there is an issue with food packaging, such as a misprint of use-by dates, then the cause needs to be identified. The risk of this issue with packaging needs to be assessed to determine if it will happen again and if measures need to be put in place to prevent it. To control the risk, staff need to be trained to identify when this issue happens again and know what to do in order to prevent it.
Now more than ever consumers are concerned with the environmental impact that the production of their food has on the environment. Consumers are being pickier about where their food comes from and what production processes are being used. Even the type of packaging being used can influence their decision to buy your product.
Food processing companies are seeing the growing need to change the way their production affects the environment. If you own or work in a food processing factory then it’s important to have a plan in place for managing the environmental impact of waste disposal and pollution caused by food production.
The three areas of risk management can easily be applied to a food processing plant to make the product more environmentally friendly. Observing that some food packaging utilises non-recyclable plastic could be one way to identify a hazard. You could assess the risk of using plastic packaging by researching how this material is disposed of and how it contributes to general waste that ends up in a tip. You could control this issue of waste by swapping over the plastic packaging for recyclable plastic packaging instead.
The productivity of your food processing factory can have a significant effect on the revenue and profitability of your company. One inefficient work process can add hours to production times and schedules. This extra time can lead to a loss in revenue and prevent your factory from reaching strict production targets.
It’s so important to carry out regular assessments on the work processes of a food processing factory. That way you can analyse productivity and establish weak points. Weak points and inefficiencies in work processes should be identified and changed to enhance workflow. For productivity, you should focus on measuring and managing all inputs and outputs to an enterprise. Do this to ensure your team effectively manages all resources.
Here’s one example of how you can incorporate the three areas of risk management. First, identify which production process is taking too long and causing a delay in production. Imagine you’ve identified the hazard of picking up and lifting boxes of ingredients from one side of the factory floor to another. You assess the risk of this process being time-consuming because of the manual labour involved in lifting and walking boxes over. You take control of this process and improve it by implementing an expanding skate conveyor system to speed things up.
How NFI can help with risk management
As part of our food processing training, here at the National Food Institute, we specialise in teaching students about RMS (Risk Management Strategy). Our students learn how to identify, assess, and control hazards in a food processing workplace.
After finishing a food processing course with us, your staff will have the confidence to make decisions and act on the 5 jeopardy areas of, worker safety, food safety, quality, environment and productivity. This training is specifically designed to create awareness and reduce the risks of hazards at all levels of a food processing business.
Contact NFI today and discover how food processing courses can become part of your company’s workplace-based training program.