The food industry remains an important contributor to Franklin County's economy with the region being home to a number of processing centers that produce bakery products, apple and fruit products, dressings and sauces, and cage-free eggs.
Hundreds of residents in the surrounding area are employed within this industry, supporting their families while keeping our region's economy moving forward. But many people who are not employed in food processing don't realize the dangers that these worker face every day. They can be dangerous jobs, especially in a stressful and hazardous work environment.
Dangers found at food processing plants
Among the number of workplace hazards food industry workers face include:
- Slips and falls, which are one of the biggest risks at a food processing plant.
- Knife cuts, which can lead to severe injuries that may require stitches as well as surgery if tendons gets damaged.
- Amputations, abrasions, and bruises while working with a plant's cutting and slicing machines, or even conveyor belts.
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals that may cause respiratory problems.
- Exposure to infectious diseases.
- Scalding while working with hot water.
- Excessive noise levels, which can damage hearing while working close to heavy machinery.
- Extremely hot temperature conditions that may lead to heat stroke and other ailments.
All of these dangers are among the reasons employers must focus on providing safe working environments for workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations in place meant to minimize these dangers and promote safety.
Steps that will improve safety
Here are a few of things that food processing plants need to have in order to boost safety:
- Install non-slip flooring resulting in fewer slips and falls in the workplace.
- Provide rubber mats for workers who must stand for great lengths on the job. The mats may minimize fatigue.
- Install a ventilation system that protects workers from breathing air contaminants.
- Conduct regular inspections of plant equipment to ensure they are operating properly.
- Require personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, ear plugs and a respirator.
- Require safety training related to the job as well as how to properly operate equipment.
Avoiding workplace injuries and promoting safety are priorities at any employer. The food industry is no different, and must do its best to ensure its workers aren't harmed while on the job.