Food and beverage manufacturing-related industries are some of the biggest in the world. With big businesses come significant responsibilities. However, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the bakery industry has one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses among all manufacturers. This proves that health and safety in a bakery are a real and serious concern and are a prevalent issue that all employers and employees should be aware of.
In this blog, we will highlight some of the most common risks associated with working in a bakery, as well as explain the regulations related to a bakery’s workplace. Further, this blog will also guide you on the safety of these hazards, so whether you are an employer or an employee of a bakery, you will have something to learn from this blog.
What are the risks present in a bakery?
Considering the number of machines and devices used in a bakery related to food. Health and safety risks exist in almost all jobs. Whether it is a construction site or an office, there might be different types of risks that can be generated from these or other factors. Being aware of these risks can help you as an employer or employee, put in place effective control measures and mitigate these risks to prevent accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
- Occupational Dermatitis
Working at a bakery may pose the risk of skin irritation to the workers, such as dermatitis or eczema. Because while working at a bakery, your skin might be exposed to the dough, spices, and detergents, which can irritate when exposed regularly.
Another type of related illness is allergy. Bakeries often handle ingredients such as nuts, dairy, and wheat that can trigger allergic reactions in some people. These allergens can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even anaphylaxis in severe cases.
- Harmful substances
While working at a bakery, bakers are at a higher risk of coming into contact with several harmful substances. Such as flour dust, one of the most prevalent risks to health and safety in a bakery. It is classified as a hazardous substance, which is totally unavoidable for the baker, as flour is a common ingredient used in a bakery.
Exposure to flour dust can cause:
- Irritation to the eyes – Flour dust particles can seek into the worker’s eye and cause them to be red, watery, or in some rare cases, develop the condition known as conjunctivitis.
- Nose irritation – Flour dust can cause the nose to become sore and runny (rhinitis).
- Asthma – Flour dust particles can penetrate the baker’s lungs via the nose. They can cause difficulties for a person already who has asthma. It causes breathlessness and bronchitis and may result in the worker needing an inhaler.
- Occupational Dermatitis
- Slips and Trips
According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, slips, trips, and falls are among the leading causes of injury in the baking industry, accounting for approximately 25% of all reported injuries. Slips and trips are the most common non-fatal injuries in most workplaces. Slips and trips can occur in almost every place, with liquids on the floor or any hindrance in the pathway, a bakery is no exception.
As food preparation and cooking play a large role for a baker, floors can easily become wet or dirty, causing slips and trips. There may also be loose cables or objects in the pathway of the baking workplace or stairs that can pose a risk of tripping.
Improper manual handling techniques can cause minor, major, and musculoskeletal injuries to the neck, back, and legs. Working as a baker can involve lifting heavy dishes and other tools. It might also include stacking and unstacking containers, moving objects, and pushing racks or bins.
Certain bakery handling activities involve some repetitive acts, especially of the body parts of hands, elbows, and shoulders. Over time, this can cause several repetitive strains on the worker’s body, such as:
- Aches and pains
- Tennis elbow
- Frozen shoulder
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Appliances and Machinery
Appliances and machinery play an integral part in running the baking kitchen. Most food processing occurs in these appliances and machinery such as ovens, mixers, proofers, slicers, fryers, coolers, and packaging equipment.
There are a number of hazards that are associated with these appliances and machinery:
- Cutting, severing, or puncturing
- Electrical Hazards
Electrical hazards can arise from malfunctioning equipment, frayed cords, and other issues. As most of the machines and equipment in the bakery are electrical and connected to a power supply, the risk for electrical hazards is increased. Improper maintenance of these electrical appliances can cause electrical hazards such as shocks or burns.
While working at a bakery, you may encounter numerous hazards, and you must be aware of them to maintain your well-being and safety. Keeping in mind these hazards, you must practice certain actions that keep the quality of the food that leaves the bakery. In the end, no matter what the circumstances are in the kitchen, the thing that would represent you would be the quality of food your bakery delivers. Therefore, training should be an appropriate solution to your problems. It is your responsibility as an employer to provide your employees with educational courses like food safety training to ensure that they set and maintain the highest standards while performing their tasks. The food safety training covers numerous topics related to food safety in the workplace, including understanding food safety hazards, hygienic practices, cleaning and sanitation, allergen awareness, etc. By providing your employees with appropriate training, you can ensure that your bakery delivers the best food quality to your customers, maintaining a high standard.
Why are safety rules and regulations vital for bakeries?
An employer’s prime responsibility is to ensure that health and safety measures are installed in the workplace. Various regulations make it an employer’s responsibility to protect their employees’ well-being. For example:
- The Health and Safety at Work 1974
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999)
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)
Whether small or large, it is important that your bakery put into practice good health and safety measures. For larger businesses, their record of good health and safety practices and performance is often an indicator of how successful that business is.
That’s where the smaller businesses are at high risk, failing to prioritize health and safety in a bakery could have detrimental effects on not only the business’s reputation but also its finances. For example, a smaller bakery whose worker just got injured would have to wait for the worker to recover and return to the job as they could not afford costly recruitment, meaning the loss of productivity.
Safety against bakery hazards
To prevent injuries and accidents in your workplace, you must implement good health and safety measures in your bakery. Following are some examples of how you can build safety around some of the common bakery hazards:
- Provide appropriate safety equipment such as hypoallergenic gloves for work so your workers are safe against illnesses such as occupational dermatitis. Additionally, you should also provide hypoallergenic soap for advanced safety.
- Against exposure to harmful substances, it is important to keep such hazards in closed containers, as well as to ensure that all of your staff are properly trained, or at least those handling such hazards are properly trained in handling such toxic substances. Additionally, you can minimize exposure to these hazardous substances by providing proper ventilation and personal protective equipment and avoiding dry brushing the floor.
- With slips and trips being the most common health risk in most workplaces, the solution to this problem is rather simple. You must train your employees on slips, trips, and fall training to ensure they know all the possibilities of when they, themselves or others, can be the victim of slipping and tripping. Providing your employees with this training course would also allow them to properly assess their surroundings before starting their tasks to ensure minimal chance of slipping or tripping. Further, such courses are important as they contribute to the well-being of your workers, teach them how to minimize the risk related to such hazards, and assure your compliance with the regulations.
- Manual handling is one of the most common activities in most workplaces, and improper manual handling techniques come with the risk of various injuries. To avoid this, you as an employer can ensure that your staff is properly trained and known to correct manual handling techniques. Also, it is important to have help aids available in your workplace, such as trolleys, reducing the need for manual handling.
- Appliances and machinery are regularly used in a bakery related to food processing. However, using such appliances or machinery can be dangerous if the person using them is unfamiliar with them. Therefore, you must provide your employees with adequate training on equipment use before providing them with any related task. It is also important to maintain the appliances and replace any machine with broken or damaged parts. Labelling also plays a crucial role, as those workers working closely with such machines and appliances would be familiar with the hazard and either stay away from it or handle it with concentration.
In conclusion, maintaining health and safety in a bakery is crucial to ensuring the well-being of employees and customers, as well as the success of the business. By reading this blog guide, you can be aware of the possible hazards present in a bakery and the safety measures on how to imply health and safety policies in your business to minimize these health hazards and provide your employees with a safe and secure work environment. It is important to remember that as an employer of a bakery, you are legally required to provide your employees with safety and ensure their well-being. You can do so by providing them with adequate training and installing other safety measures in your workplace, as mentioned in this blog guide. Bakery owners and managers need to take an active role in promoting and enforcing safety practices in their workplace, as this not only protects the health of those involved but also contributes to the business’s overall success. With a commitment to safety and quality, bakeries can continue providing delicious baked goods for all to enjoy.
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