In our previous blog article, Food safety and HACCP implementation: An Introduction, we described food safety and why it is important for consumers, brands and sometimes entire companies. In this blog article, we will dig deeper into the world of food production and talk about operator safety and the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in food production lines. In addition, we will describe how safety hazards can be reduced.
A smart production flow requires minimal interaction from the operators
One of the most important objectives in a food production environment, aside from food safety, is to achieve high operator safety. Through decreasing or even eliminating safety hazards during the design phase, the need for operator protection can be significantly reduced, making for a better and easier working environment. This, combined with a smart and reliable production flow, requires minimal interaction from the operators. Instead of, for example, having to start and stop the production due to lack of reliability, which can create unforeseen events like handling products that are stuck, their main task is allowed to be more supervisory. This will minimize the risk of injuries for the operators and at the same time maintain high production
Easy access to equipment and products decreases the risk of injury
One of the biggest potential safety risks for operators working in food production is the exposure of pinch points that might result in serious injury. Other potential safety risks include loud noise levels and non-ergonomic working tasks such as manual packaging operations and lifting. One way to minimize these types of risks is to add automation such as a collaborative robot that can support the operator when loading a pallet. Also to review the layout from an operator aspect is crucial during the design phase to create a good overview as well as easy access to both the equipment and the products. Our experience is that this type of reviews is much appreciated by both production and maintenance teams.
The importance of clean production equipment in the food industry
Each industry that FlexLink operates in has its own challenges regarding operator safety. For the food industry, it is the need for production equipment that is easy to clean in order to minimize the microbiological risk to maintain food safety. The more open and exposed a piece of production equipment is, the easier it is to clean. However, an open and exposed system also increases the risk of operator injuries. Thus, it is a matter of balancing the safe handling of food in production without negotiating operator safety.
Reducing potential safety hazards in the design phase
When designing production equipment, it is crucial to follow rules and regulations stating what demands the equipment must live up to in order to ensure operator safety. Many potential risks are eliminated automatically when CE-marking the equipment by following the European Machinery Directive. In addition, there are rules regarding cleanliness, what materials to use and how the equipment should be designed to achieve excellent hygiene.
With a smart design, it is possible to reduce potential safety hazards in the production line while at the same time allowing for easy cleaning. That means designing the production line as open and safe as possible while at the same time reducing the need for safety protection. This results in easy access to the production line with a minimal amount of pinch points which, in turn, leads to high operator safety. This way, potential hazards can be removed in the design phase, instead of adding safety covers and protections making the operators work more difficult. Therefore, a smart design means not having to compromise on hygiene during food production, or on operator safety.
A good working environment is part of the sustainability objectives
Creating a good working environment for operators is an integral part of many food production companies’ sustainability work. The major companies in the food production market have basically the same high standards all over the world. That way, they set a high standard that influences also smaller, local businesses. This contributes to the long-term commitment of being a good employer and building a strong brand in the food industry.
FlexLink designs safe equipment that is easy to clean and maintain
FlexLink puts a lot of effort in designing safe and reliable production flow solutions that focus on operator safety and are easy to clean and maintain. For example, our WLX wide belt conveyor in stainless steel is easy to clean due to state-of-the-art hygienic design including excellent drainage, good accessibility and the lack of cavities and hollow bodies. It is also safe, ergonomic and has a low noise level.
We are passionate about delivering high-quality equipment for your production, allowing you to focus on your core business. Our production flow solutions do not make you choose between operator safety and hygiene in food production – you can have both!
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog article about operator safety in food production. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, visit us on our website and social media channels for more information about us and how we work in the food industry.