Interview by Lindsey Jahn, Associate Editor
Q. What unique challenges
face food manufacturers regarding
A. Food processing plants, more so
than other manufacturing facilities, contain
unique hazards in everyday operations,
such as working in confined spaces and
around wet floors, moving heavy materials, using highly automated equipment and
working with and around harsh chemicals.
These hazards create four unique plant
safety challenges for food manufacturing
1. Slips, Trips and Falls: Slip, trip and
fall incidents are common in the food
manufacturing environment because
of the handling of raw materials and
production systems that use water
or liquids. Companies must take the
appropriate measures to reduce these
risks and keep employees safe.
2. Equipment Safety: Equipment haz-
ards include sharp knives and blades,
potential pinch points from moving
machinery, and blenders and augers
that can potentially pull employees into
the machine. To mitigate lockout/tagout
risk, meet OSHA compliance and pro-
tect employees from equipment haz-
ards, food manufacturers must create
a comprehensive, sustainable lockout/
3. Hazard Communication/Chemical
Safety: Two of OSHA’s top ten most
highly cited topics for food processing
facilities, it’s important for employees
to be educated on chemicals and how
to safely handle them. In food manufacturing, harsh chemicals are used for
washdown and other cleaning and sanitation processes.
4. Confined Space Entry: Food manufacturing facilities often have a large
number of confined spaces, such as
silos, tanks, mixing vats and storage
bins, which creates risks when maintenance is needed.
Q. How can workplace safety
at a facility impact food safety?
A. Food safety starts with effective
workplace safety. Employees informed
about safety programs and their workplace
environment will better understand proper
safe-handling instructions and potential
environmental risks to quality, such as
cross-contamination. Facilities that employ
Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) and
workplace security benefit from reduced
threat of contamination and a safer and
more comfortable workplace — allowing
employees to produce a quality product.
Safe employees produce safe product.
Q. Lockout/tagout procedures
are of particular concern in automated, industrial environments.
What are some best practices for
lockout/tagout in food facilities?
A. When examining lockout/tagout
procedures for food manufacturing environments, I recommend four industry best
practices to ensure a high level of employee
understanding and safety:
1. All lockout/tagout procedures should
be machine specific and graphical
in nature. This allows employees to
follow the step-by-step instructions
necessary to successfully lock out
machines to OSHA standards.
2. Procedures should be multi-lingual to
reach the ever-expanding global and
multicultural workforce and ensure
that all employees understand safety
3. Procedures should be available locally
and posted where employees can see
them. When employees can easily
with Heather Marenda, Client Services
Engagement Manager, Brady
Food Manufacturing spoke with Brady’s Heather Marenda about the top
steps food manufacturers can take to improve plant safety for workers,
including lock-out/tag-out procedures, safety audits and plant security.