HSE targets food and drink industry for inspection

The HSE has informed the Food and Drink Industry Manufacturing Forum that there will be 1,000 planned inspection visits to food or drink factories in the January to March 2018 quarter.

The planned visits will focus on the issues identified in the manufacturing sector policy and in the HSE health and work strategy. This means on most visits the will focus on musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). In sites where asthmagens are present (e.g. flour dust or grain dust) control of asthma will be a focus. And inspectors will also be looking out for effective controls against catastrophic events – fire, explosion, exposure to hazardous gases, oxygen-deficient atmospheres, etc.

For MSDs and asthmagens the emphasis will be on the presence of adequate control measures and information, instruction and training for workers rather than risk assessments. Inspectors have had training on management of MSDs and the use of the MAC, ART and RAPP tools to help manage the risk.

HSE’s head of Manufacturing Sector John Rowe, said: “The food manufacturing sector is made up of over 300,000 workers and its health and safety record needs to improve. This inspection initiative will look to ensure effective management and control of targeted health risks.”

For businesses who want to be prepared for an inspection, the HSE has issues Operational Guidance to its inspectors.

Manufacturing Sector Workplan 2017-18: Musculoskeletal Disorders in food manufacturing’ explains what inspectors should be looking for when inspecting for MSD prevention.

Manufacturing Sector Workplan 2017-18: Occupational asthmagens, carcinogens and Respirable Crystalline Silica in manufacturing industries’ includes details for occupational asthmagens such as flour dust in the food industry along with other respiratory hazards in other industries. In particular Appendix 1 (pages 12, 13) covers flour dust and Appendix 13 (pages 36 & 37) explains the enforcement expectations.