Instore - August 2018 - 42
Improving worker safety
by Ryan Atkinson
food production facility can inherently
be an unsafe space. Moving parts, high
temperatures, plenty of sharp surfaces and
more make commissaries, central kitchens
and bakeries places where inattention can
and there's also a lot of cost that's associated with injuries."
And with a shifting landscape, gone are the
days where putting up "Safety First" posters
or delivering a few speeches to employees is
enough when it comes to worker safety.
"Safety has definitely become something
that is very, very important to businesses.
Likewise, it's just as important for the end
users in the food industry," says Todd Blair,
director of brand marketing for ITW Food
Equipment Group, which includes banners
like Baxter, Hobart, Traulsen, Peerless and
more. "We go to our jobs for the wellbeing of
our lives outside of work. At the end of the
day, we're all trying to go home to our family, friends and loved ones. In essence, that's
that we work for."
"I believe the emphasis on worker safety has
changed significantly and I think it's done so
for two main reasons," says Rowdy Brixey,
president of Brixey Engineering Strategies
and Training, a firm that specializes in helping food companies run at peak efficiency.
"There are new regulations and oversight
What may have been considered a simple
necessary risk of the job is now looked at
much more closely.
And, in addition to the obvious reasons for
making your space as safe as possible, there
are business-minded reasons as well.
"From a purely business standpoint, any
potential safety incident brings with it a
lot of cost liability and potential disruption
for business operations," Blair says. "In addition to the obvious, humane aspect of it,
any business that needs to operate smoothly
needs to do so in a safe environment.
"There are new regulations and
oversight and there is a lot of
cost associated with injuries."
ROWDY BRIXEY, BRIXEY ENGINEERING
"I think for most businesses, safety is a huge
part of the culture moving forward. In some
cases, you can't have a customer if you don't
meet certain safety certifications."
Creating a safer culture
There are plenty of ways to improve worker
safety when it comes to equipment design,
but emphasizing a safe culture is an important first step. That process, Brixey says,
can't begin anywhere else but at the very
"Companies can hire a safety expert to introduce systems and programs, but the key
component will be a true change in the leadership's mindset and behavior toward safety," he says. "Some leaders believe they can
simply hire a manager or purchase a safety
program and the rest will take care of itself.
Zero injuries must be seen as a possibility.
It's a cultural journey and it must be led from
the top down."
Blair says a big part of that culture is emphasizing awareness when working and navigating on the facility floor.
"You have to have a safety culture and practice," he says. "In the foodservice industry,
sometimes you're moving so fast that if the
equipment itself doesn't have protocols, it's
very easy to take shortcuts. When you do
that, it doesn't take much for something to
Worker safety has to start at the top of the company and turn into a company-wide culture to
be most effective. Photo: ITW Food Equipment Group
42 * AUGUST 2018 * commissary INSIDER
That's why Brixey stresses a company's culture. When working with clients he points
out that maturity in safety is a result of a