Safer spill cleaning in the food and beverage industry
In the food and beverage industry, like many others with copious production and distribution, spills happen. Whether in the processing of items or transport of products, spills are unavoidable and having adequate spill response is essential. Given the consumable nature of products in the food and beverage industry, safe spill response practices and non-toxic materials used for cleanup are paramount. Where does the responsibility lie however, in creating safe spill remediation?
Currently there is some regulation for cleaning and spill response for food and beverage manufacturers, however maintaining compliance for these doesn’t necessarily enforce the smartest, safest and most cost-effective solution. Many cleanup solutions available to the industry are unsafe or ineffective, but not being clearly communicated as such. As much as those in the food and beverage industry have responsibility for safety, so too should the manufacturers and distributors of spill cleaning solutions.
We know that safety can’t be the only factor in operations managers choosing spill cleanup products. Maximising efficiency, minimising downtime and immediate effectiveness are all important factors that cannot be ignored. So how can we address safe spill response without diminishing these other important requirements?
Considerations for spill response and choosing spill products
Does this have any potential safety concerns for my staff, products or consumers?
Starting with safety, you can reduce your choices for cleanup solution by asking this simple question. While it may be obvious (or even non-compliant) to use common solutions like a clay-based absorbent, which has been proven to be a carcinogenic, there are other solutions that can be potentially hazardous. For example, mats are often used as a safe cleanup material from a health perspective, but their slow execution and need for secondary (or three-time or four-time) cleanup make slips and falls more likely.
Is my spill response plan and chosen product suite the most effective it can be?
Minimising downtime is a hugely important factor for operations managers no matter the workplace. The longer a spill stops production or interrupts workflow, the more profit is impacted. Are their gaps in your plan that are increasing downtime? Planning, communicating and educating your team on what their response to spills should be, helps to minimise disruption and risks. Are your current spill response products as quick and effective as they can be? Spill cleanup doesn’t have to be a long and difficult process. Have you explored different solutions for quicker and better cleanup?
Am I complying with relevant standards and requirements?
In an ever changing industry, standards and recommendations are shifting all the time. Do you have a regular process for assessing your response and comparing it to any adjusted requirements? Are there standards you can comply with that aren’t compulsory, but are the responsible choice? Aligning with safe and ethical standards are more than compliance. Always be reviewing your current processes and suppliers to assess if you’re doing the best you can for your industry, your workers and your customers.
Spills aren’t just a nuisance. Spills cost you. They are a threat to your workers and your bottom line. How you approach a spill has real consequences for the health and safety of your people. There is much to learn and apply when it comes to better spill remediation in the food and beverage industry. To help you understand and consider this topic further, we’ve put together a free ebook.