How to keep your employees healthy in food processing facilities
It is not uncommon for employees in the food processing industry to develop health problems. Some issues can be related to the general workplace safety protocols and others – with faulty equipment or even things like low temperatures and poorly functioning air diffusion systems. These health concerns not only impact workers, but also the companies that must cope with the resulting absenteeism.
Managing Director, Turkey
In some cases, it is up to the workers themselves to take care of their own safety in the workplace by complying with safety requirements. But companies must also take care of their employees and provide a comfortable and safe environment. Even the smallest changes can improve the comfort of employees and virtually eliminate the source of injuries and sickness, thus leaving the employers with no worries about staff shortages.
Workplace safety needs training
At any production or manufacturing facility, employee safety is a priority. Everyone has to comply to set regulations, standards, or rules that keep the boat floating. Food processing facilities are no exception. Of course, risks to workers’ safety can come from various places but everyone has to communicate and know, what they are supposed to do at any given moment, thus preventing accidents. And accidents that end up damaging the health of employees can be easily prevented by following the rules. Obviously, they have to be constantly delivered through posters, pamphlets, or specific training. And any time the rules or protocols change, these have to be updated as well. And this is the simplest way how the employer can help its employees with being safe at their work station.
No place for faulty equipment
One of the main responsibilities of an employer is to properly maintain work equipment. Any malfunction can lead to fatal accidents, not just simple ones. Back in 2019, an EU study found that as many as 21.5% of fatal accidents were caused by equipment or tools that were not in working order or not working properly. And non-fatal accidents are even more common as more than 31% of these happen in various industrial sites.
It is also clear and understandable that the protection of workers’ health requires ongoing maintenance and technical assessment of installations. And this is particularly easy to ensure through routine inspections or by responding quickly to workers’ complaints.
However, there are factors that cause health problems for workers that are not easy to see or control. And these can be related to air diffusion systems.
Eliminating drafts and cold spots, ensuring hygiene
To ensure an ideal environment in food processing facilities, very stringent requirements must be met including precise temperatures and air volumes. The air temperature in these rooms ideally is between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius (41 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit), which automatically puts employees at risk. Workers standing underneath rooms equipped with traditional ventilation systems with spot diffusers can instantly freeze because of the combination of cold air and airflow.
Hygiene is also of paramount importance in the food processing industry. Products must be processed in extremely clean environments and must be free of bacteria or mold. However, employee health is equally important. Air distribution systems make a particularly important contribution to a hygienic and comfortable environment.
Conventional stainless steel ducts inherently have many negative characteristics in the food industry, including rusting, condensation, and the potential for bacteria and mold growth. The latter is particularly difficult to identify as it is not visible to the naked eye due to the properties of the metal. However, fabric-based air distribution solutions address these problems.
Due to their properties, fabric ducts do not corrode and do not form condensation. The most important feature is that the ducts do not harbor bacteria and mold, and they are easy to remove, wash, and re-hang for further operation. Of course, protecting the ducts from environmental influences also protects the employees who do not have to face potential health hazards.
The installation of fabric ducts in food processing rooms distributes air evenly throughout the room, eliminating the fundamental problem of drafts and cold spots. An efficient air distribution system with fabric ducts that have micro-perforations does not create drafts and maintains a comfortable airflow of up to 0.2 m/s for employees.
Fabric ducts eliminates hidden health risks
For almost 50 years fabric ducts have been a highly sought-after solution for the food processing industry. These solutions are far superior to conventional ventilation systems. Not only do they protect food products and workers in cold and unpleasant environments, but also companies’ bottom lines on employees’ health and safety.
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