Bloomberg Businessweek recently published an article on how America’s worst graveyard shift—third-shift sanitation—is grind- ing up workers. Those using in-house staff are required to report injuries and other situations in which an employee may get sick
and/or hurt on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t require plants to report
contractors’ injuries. Whether you are involved
with supporting the in-house and/or contract
sanitation staff, the time is now to make sure
your sanitors commit to attention to detail.
In today’s food safety environment, not only
does training become the number one focus
within your day-to-day sanitation operations,
but it also lends itself to reinforcing hazard com-munication/safety and attention to detail. Recalls
can be devastating for companies. Environmental
positives can also contribute to loss of revenue and
production downtime, and can even contribute
to losing a key account. Our sanitation staff is the
first—and best—line of defense against mishaps
that can lead to costly injuries, recalls, etc. Although turnover continues to be a very challenging
concern, the better we teach these people the
“whys” of sanitation and the better we view this
as a family approach, the better our chances to minimize costly recalls, lost product batches and workplace injuries. Sanitation typically
is viewed as a thankless job. As we all recognize, the consistency of
performance is a result of a solid sanitation training program. It not
only teaches workers how to perform but also why it is so important.
Safety continues to be a challenge for anyone in sanitation. The
atmospheric conditions generate challenges for safety glasses/gog-gles/face shields due to some environments creating fog-like conditions. In going through your safety training, whether it be ongoing or
annually, focus on two areas.
1. Eye protection: Pictures can vividly share the horrors that can
conceivably allow one to lose their eyesight and/or have blurred vision the rest of their life. Let’s remember, we have only one set of
eyes. Eye injuries in the workplace are very common, with about
20,000 eye injuries occurring each year (let’s keep in mind reported
injuries). Eye injuries not only cause pain and suffering, but the costs
are more than eye-opening, adding up to $300 million annually in
worker compensation, medical expenses and lost production time,
according to OSHA.
2. Wear/utilize the appropriate gloves. The macho effect in sanitation does not work! “I don’t need to wear gloves.” Too many times
we see employees who are very young in years, but their hands have
the look of adding 50 years to their lives. In turn, this can create other
challenges that potentially will risk your health in the long term.
FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) truly impacted food pro-
duction/food sanitation in 2017. An additional focus will be placed
on food safety/sanitation programs in the coming years. Let’s focus
on one of the integral parts of your food
sanitation program: the seven steps of
1. Remove excess material that has
been produced during the day.
2. Thoroughly rinse all the production equipment (130–135 °F has been
shown to do an effective job at removing
fats, oils and greases). By doing this job
thoroughly, the remaining steps will be
accomplished more efficiently.
3. Apply the appropriate cleaner, making sure it is mixed properly and has sufficient contact, cling and dwell time.
4. Agitate the production equipment very thoroughly. Identify harborage
points, as these are the areas where biofilms will accumulate, grow and multiply.
Plus, they conceivably create environmental concerns within the facility.
5. Thoroughly rinse the surface.
6. Inspect your work—ATP units are
not only a terrific way to verify/validate
that cleaning has been done efficiently
but they also are an excellent training
tool for your sanitation crew. The more
your sanitation team understands the
“whys” of cleaning and sanitation, the
more empowered they are and the more
efficient they become at their job. ATP
can be an excellent tool to show your
team what your numbers are after you
rinse the gross soils. Comparing the before and after cleaning numbers can be a
real game changer.
7. Apply your properly mixed sanitizer
per directions for use so that it is at the
no-rinse sanitizing levels.
Knowing that sanitation workers can
face some of the harshest, most dangerous conditions in American industries, we
can all agree that the better trained and
fundamentally sound our team is, the better we execute your sanitation program to
protect your brand. Working in an industry
that deals with high turnover rates reinforces that training continues to become
our number one priority. This will ensure
the safety of our workers, ensure we continuously produce a quality and wholesome product and, most importantly,
protect your brand in addition to those of
the companies for which you copack.
To learn more about how Spartan’s
food processing sanitation program can
help you eliminate foodborne pathogens
and prevent recalls, contact Christopher A.
Celusta, director, food processing sanitation, SQF 2000 Systems certified, ServSafe
certified, HACCP certified, PCQI certified,
Worker Safety and Attention to
Detail—Protect Your Brand!