By Rory Duggan, Sales Director
Food and drink manufacturing takes place in diverse environments and on very different scales – from small bakeries to large factories processing raw meat products – and whilst the day-to-day demands of each may be very different, one thing applies to everyone working in the industry: the need for safe work at height practices and equipment.
The need for food processing MEWP hire
Joint working by trade associations, employers, trade unions and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has brought about significant reductions in the number of injuries in the food industry since the 1990s, but the statistics remain a cause for concern. According to the HSE, falls from height in the food and drink industries are the third highest cause of fatal injury, comprising 20% of fatal accidents. Each year, 80 major injuries result – including broken limbs and fractured skulls – with a further 230 over-3-day absence injuries each year. These figures provide evidence that employees are being placed in unnecessary danger – or are taking unnecessary risks – while employers are exposing themselves to the risk of prosecution and hefty fines, not to mention the damaging effects on a company’s productivity, morale and reputation.
Why are the figures so high?
All too often, people resort to quick and easy work-at-height solutions, putting themselves at risk in the process. The use of ladders account for 40% of all work at height accidents in the food industry, followed by falls from vehicles (17%), many due to fork lifts truck operators standing on the forks themselves or creating make-shift platforms by attaching pallets to forks.
All work at height tasks – from routine maintenance and high-level cleaning to clearing blockages, stock takes and carrying out ad hoc repairs – should only be carried out after a full risk assessment has been conducted. A risk assessment will allow you to identify likely hazards and manage risk properly to ensure corners are never cut and safety remains paramount.
By far the best work at height solution is to ‘design out’ the need to work at height in the first place, but this is usually only feasible if you are building a food factory from scratch. The next best solution is to hire a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) that meets the particular needs of food processors and manufacturers.
Training is a must
The experts at Horizon can offer advice on all your food processing MEWP hire needs, but that’s only half the story. 10% of work at height accidents in the food industry occur even when workers are using work at height platforms – that’s where training to use your platform correctly comes in. IPAF training is essential, both to get the best out of your machine and most importantly, to ensure you stay safe at height. MEWPs are a very safe option if they are used correctly, so make sure you build training into your health and safety plan.
Our IPAF training courses were developed with leading industry professionals to make sure that you and your employees get the best training for safe at-height access. You can book a course at either of our IPAF training centres in Wakefield and Warrington, or if you prefer, we can come to you.
All our training courses conform to the international ISO quality mark and satisfy standards required by many Health and Safety legislation and Work at Height regulations. Call the team to find out more about food processing MEWP hire and training from the experts.