In the early stages of the food processing industry safety standards were so appallingly poor that people routinely got killed, maimed or injured. Journalist Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” offered a look into the horrors of Chicago’s meat processing industry leading to massive reforms in this sector. But fool proof safety mechanisms have still not been put in place and accidents do take place in this industry.
Here are some of the areas in the food processing industry that raises concerns –
- Machine hazards – In spite of hi-tech machines being introduced in this sector accidents do happen. It is estimated that about 2,500 workers are injured and 700 killed every year in the USA alone. Accidents are generally related to falling structures, workers being exposed to moving parts and compressed equipment. There is a general school of thought that advocates that hi-tech machines are hazardous if not handled properly. This is somewhat true and an example from another completely unrelated sector will bear this out. Take the example of the beauty care sector and an IPL hair removal machine for sale in Melbourne or anywhere else. Like machinery in the food processing industry such an IPL machine has technologically advanced features but in the hands of untrained technicians can cause great harm to patients.
Hence, for food processing units, employers should put great emphasis on training to workers, both in handling sophisticated machines as well safety measures to be followed.
- Release of Ammonia – Anhydrous ammonia is a common refrigerant in food processing sector especially in juice and soft drink and meat processing units. Exposure to ammonia can be extremely hazardous as the gas is corrosive in nature, inflammable and explosive if it ignites in closed spaces. Ammonia also damages the eyes, skin and lungs. For protecting workers from any harm, employers should properly designate dangerous areas that are susceptible to leaks and provide suitable clothing and gas marks as a safety precaution.
- Other safety measures – Apart from these specific areas in the food processing industry managers and employers should follow certain common preventive measures. Danger signs should be put up in accident prone areas where there is a likelihood of injuries. Warning signs are a notch below Danger signs and can be placed in areas not hazardous enough to warrant it. Finally, there are Caution signs describe situations that might lead to minor injuries if not followed.
These are some of the common safety hazards in the food processing industry though the extent of risk varies from unit to unit.