Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

Food for thought about safety

The Health and Safety Executive estimates there are 12 causes covering 96 per cent of all injuries in food and drink manufacture.

Diversification has become essential for many farming and rural enterprises to ensure their viability which means that many rural businesses should be paying a great deal of attention to them.

The HSE list covers:

- machinery

- workplace transport

- work at height

- entry into silos and confined spaces

- slips and trips

- struck by objects and knives

- manual handling

- upper limb disorders

- occupational dermatitis

- occupational asthma

- noise-induced hearing loss

- work-related stress

Managing these 12 key issues will significantly reduce injuries, ill health and the associated costs says the HSE, which suggests taking positive action to achieve continued improvement to health and safety performance. Concentrating on these key topics will maximise that improvement.

HSE research indicates that positive steps by management could have prevented injury in about 70per cent of incidents, and action by workers a further 10 per cent.

Effective management of work-related safety and health is good for business, says HSE, with the result that many companies have embedded this argument in the development of their health and safety policies and culture.

The added value comes from both ends of the balance sheet - reduced costs as well as higher efficiencies, productivity and profit. It is not only about the cost of claims and replacement labour but also about the whole economic well-being of the business, as well as trust and reputation.

A number of major multi-site food and drink processing and distribution companies have assessed the full cost of accidents. This includes both the hidden and insured costs of all incidents. The results indicate that the true recoverable cost of accidents is an area that needs and justifies control. The same circumstances which caused injury also created production losses, quality and cost problems.

For many businesses, where margins are very tight, profits can depend on the control of costs - including loss from health and safety incidents - just as much as increased sales or higher prices.

HSE concludes that the key to effective health and safety is strong leadership. More information can be found by clicking here.

For those who have set up establishments that sell produce or prepared food to retail customers, the likelihood of increased penalties for contravening food safety and hygiene legislation may make this a good time to address food handling techniques and training.

The Sentencing Council has just closed a consultation on reviewing penalties to help ensure a consistent approach to sentencing, allowing fair and proportionate sentences across the board, with some of the most serious offenders facing tougher penalties.

It’s intended that in future, starting points for fines in this area will:

- reflect the seriousness of the offence (including the extent to which the offender fell below the required standard) and take into account the financial circumstances of the offender;

- meet, in a fair and proportionate way, the aims of punishment and deterrence and removal of gain; and are

- Sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact which will bring home to both management and shareholders the need to operate within the law.

If food handling is part of your business, it could be timely to review your existing systems. Ask yourself:

- Does your operation have all the appropriate food safety practices (to include but not limited to food handling, preparation, storage, service of food to the public) in place?

Are these properly recorded in your business?

Are the processes properly passed on to staff, with regular training updates provided?

Is all training properly recorded?

Is there an audit trail to show that all processes and staff training are regularly reviewed, and

Where there are deficiencies in process and training, what is being done to address these?

Are you doing enough to ensure that policies are followed and enforced, if appropriate through employment/disciplinary processes?

If there are any deficiencies, take urgent action to address them.

christopher turner

Christopher Turner

Associate Partner

Christopher is part of the rural team, carrying out management and professional services for private clients in the Newbury area. He specialises in the management of rural countryside estate, providin...

Read more

01962 833374