Food manufacturing/Working at height case study - Dalehead Foods

Dalehead Foods Division at Corsham in Wiltshire, is part of the UK's largest food manufacturing group, Tulip Ltd, and is dedicated to supplying branded meat products to the Waitrose chain of supermarkets.

The Corsham plant consists of various specialized food preparation areas including a dedicated packing area and retail slicing hall, where ceiling mounted ‘air socks’ are used to disperse clean cooled de-humidified air into the slicing department.

The ‘air socks’ are fed from two air handling units located in the roof space, the socks are situated on the ceiling, which is 6 metres in height and are positioned centrally above each of the food production lines.

The removal of the air socks for regular cleaning and maintenance is essential and in the past, the only way to do this was to use ladders or mobile elevated platforms (MEWPS). Due to their positioning above the meat processing machinery, access to do the work was difficult and often required the repositioning of ladders and MEWPS a number of times.

Continually looking at ways to improve health and safety and manage risk is a key priority for Dalehead Foods. So in 2007, when designs for a new extension to the plant were being drawn up, Dalehead started looking at ways to ‘design out’ the risk of working at height when undertaking routine cleaning and maintenance of the air-cooling system.

The solution was a simple but effective one, by constructing a corridor at one end of the retail-slicing hall, where the air-handling units are located and then fitting runners to the air socks, meant that they could be retracted into the corridor when required.

This meant that essential cleaning and maintenance could be undertaken without the need for either ladders or MEWPS being used and so the risks associated with working at height have been successfully minimised

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