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Does your risk assessment cover these common health and safety hazards associated with working with food?

by , 04 April 2013
The horse meat scandal is never-ending. Now, names of the companies involved have been handed over for further investigation of the health and safety implications. But don't breathe a sigh of relieve just yet if you're not involved - there are many health and safety hazards associated with working with food. Here's how to identify them properly with a risk assessment.

Traces of horse, donkey, water buffalo and goat meat have been found and labelled as 'red meat', says the SABC.
Now, the names of retailers whose meat was sampled to determine its actual ingredients will be handed over to the Red Meat Industry Forum.
Bad as these implications are, the food industry scandal has highlighted another important aspect of working with food – the need for risk assessments.
Because consumers are in uproar that their health has been put in danger by not eating pure red meat.
But there're far more health hazards associated with working in the food industry.
That's why you need to ensure your facilities for eating and cooking comply with the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act as part of your health and safety responsibilities, says Kerusha Narothan of the Health and Safety Training Manual.
The best way to do this is to conduct a risk assessment.
Four aspects to cover in your risk assessment!
It's crucial that your risk assessment cover the following four aspects, according to the HSE.gov.uk website
  1. What are the hazards associated with this role?
  2. Who could be harmed and how?
  3. What are you already doing to minimise the health and safety risk?
  4. What further action is necessary – by whom and when?
Make sure you issue the correct PPE to minimise the health and safety risks you've identified in your risk assessment
In the food industry, these hazards include health and safety risks like slipping, burns from fire or coming into contact with hot surfaces or liquids, and cuts from handling knives.
You'll need to factor this in when checking your personal protective equipment or PPE you issue your staff. 
For example, you'll need to make sure their shoes have a non-slip surface and that suitable cleaning materials are available to minimise the risk of slipping, and heat-resistant gloves and aprons will protect your employees against burns to the skin. 
Simple as that.
Risk assessment is a vital step in protecting the health and safety of your employees if you work in the food industry! 

Find out more about risk assessments and how to conduct them in the Health and Safety Advisor.
Click here now to get your copy!

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