Risk Management is not a new subject and it is not one that should be ignored, especially by companies in the Food and Beverage Industry. Risk management’s overall objective is to assure the organization that uncertainty does not deflect from the effort of achieving the business goals. Nothing should be more important to the food industry than protecting their customers and employees. To this end, there are a number of requirements for facilities and processes that are highly specific and targeted at food safety. However, food and beverage facilities are often wet places in which to work, which introduces a crucial consideration for people safety – Slip Resistance. In general a slip occurs when there is a loss in traction between the walking surface and the shoe; or contact with another object. If the slip extends for more than a few inches it may lead to a fall.
The considerations to risk management for areas where wet operations occur are different from dry operations and are more critical when focusing on slip resistance. For the food and beverage industry, proper sanitation is needed to control bacteria growth, remove contamination and prevent slippery floors. More often than not people associate rough floors with slip resistance, and shiny or polished floors with slippery floors. While this may hold true for some surfaces,a roughly textured surface can increase the traction on a floor/walkway, but that can however impede the effectiveness of a cleaning regime. A compromise is therefore needed to achieve adequacy for both slip resistance as well as ease of cleaning.
The Cycle of Walkway Management emphasizes 5 aspects: Design, Plan, Build, Maintain, Insure. A slip can result in minor damage to a person or property; or on the other extreme a slip can result in serious injury or death. The risk of injury or death to a person whether employee or customer is unacceptable and should be given priority from as early as the design stage for a facility.A food and beverage facility, whether engaged in processing, packaging or retail sales will at some point require people or equipment traffic within the operations area for actual operations, maintenance or cleaning purposes.
It is the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare atwork of all hisemployees. The OSH Act stipulates that employers are to ensure that as far as reasonably practical, persons not in his employment are not exposed to risks for their safety and health.
Food and beverage facilitiesshould therefore be so designed to allow operations and maintenance processes to occur without incident and in an optimal way. The design should take into consideration the type of activities, materials/products and the environment. For instance materials such as powders, flours, oils and liquids are easily capable of creating slippery surfaces. The floors in areas with these and similar products must therefore be designed and maintained to accommodate safe work in the area. The floors themselves are to be even and have clear access;proper stairway and ramp design and inclusion of guard and hand rails are among the items that encompass a comprehensive walkway design.
The selection of flooring surfaces as mentionedmust address both food safety and people (customer and employee) safety. Apart from safety, the flooring finish can have an effect on productivity. This can be evaluated by determining how often maintenance has to be done on the floors, the duration of the maintenance and the downtime of operations to facilitate this. With usage and harsh cleaning processes the surface of your floor can become worn thereby reducing traction and creating floors with a higher potential for slippage. In the cleaning processes, the types of chemicals used can leave residues that are not visible but can be slippery. Coatings and polishes that are placed on the floors all have some effect on the slip resistance of the floors. Whether they are intended to add some layer of protection to the underlying surface, increase traction or purely for aesthetics, you should know how the application affects the floor to ensure a reduced risk of slips.
Are you a food or beverage producer, processor, packager or retailer? Are your products frozen, greasy, powdery or liquid?
Do you own or operate a bakery, restaurant or food establishment?
At CARIRI we are now trained and ready to assess the slip resistance of floor tiles before and after installation to verify the coefficient of friction. These values will allow you to assess whether the tile is appropriate for use to avoid slips. We can also conduct walkway audits for instances where you have had slips, or even areas of concern. We want to help you reduce your risks of accidents and incidents related to floor safety. Don’t set yourself up to being sued for a slip and fall accident. Reduce your risk by managing it proactively!
Our Caribbean Food Safety Centre is outfitted to address your food safety concerns and can guide you through the HACCP Process.
Our goal is to help you make your operations and facility safer!