Health and safety issues
It has been recognised for many years that actions taken in one
part of the food supply chain can adversely (or beneficially)
affect another part.
- raw materials suppliers selling product in heavy sack weights
can cause an increase in manual handling injuries at their
customer food manufacturers or retailers;
- food retail customers specifying product presentation or food
hygiene requirements can inadvertently cause injuries or
occupational health problems at food manufacturers.
Precautions which need to be adopted
In order to reduce injuries in other parts of the supply chain,
the following precautions should be considered.
The main problems usually relate to manual handling (which
causes 35% of food industry injuries). For example:
- can product be supplied in bulk (e.g. bulk bags) rather than
in sacks or in drums etc. or, if not;
- are products in sacks, boxes, crates etc supplied at reasonable unit weights (i.e. not over 25kg). If weights are greater than this does the
customer have the necessary equipment to avoid manual
- are boxes, crates etc provided with suitable hand holds.
Food retail customers
Problems can occur when customers place requirements on
suppliers in relation to buildings/equipment or process/production.
- are processing/presentation requirements causing unnecessary
- are hygiene requirements affecting safety issues (e.g. floor
surface specification or cleaning regimes having an adverse
effect on slips risks);
- do changes in product at short notice allow adequate time for
revising risk assessments;
- are reduced workroom temperatures set for product purposes
acceptable under health and safety legislation;
- are there procedures in place to ensure safe reversing of
delivery vehicles at larger retail premises.
Responsibilities for suppliers and customers to be aware of
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Section 3(1) - the duty
of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,
that those not in his employment, who may be affected thereby,
are not exposed to risks to their health and safety;
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999,
Regulation 11 - co-operation between employers, so far as
necessary, to enable them to comply with legal requirements.
The key to reducing injuries to workers throughout the supply
chain is close cooperation between suppliers, manufacturers and
Issues such as those highlighted above, which affect parties
upstream or downstream, need to be discussed freely and action
taken to minimise any adverse effect on others.
Doing so will ensure injuries to workers are reduced along with
associated industry costs.