Warehouse safety and sanitation

Warehouse safety and sanitation

There are two things to consider when it comes to warehouse safety and sanitation: your company's facilities and your employees' practices. Your facilities should meet and exceed government standards. This means having the right sanitary facilities, such as restrooms and handwashing stations, and following proper procedures for waste disposal and food storage.

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Your employees also must be trained in the sanitary measures that will prevent contamination of the products you produce. This may include using protective clothing or washing hands before moving from one area to another, avoiding cross-contamination by using different tools in each area, and immediately cleaning up any spills or accidents that occur.

Some facilities, such as food processing plants and canning facilities, can't afford to be without a quality sanitation program. These facilities must maintain sanitary conditions and keep their products sanitary. The purpose of sanitation is to minimize the risk of contamination and disease by maintaining the cleanliness and physical safety of a facility and its equipment and food and water supplies.

Food processing facilities must follow carefully defined guidelines for what constitutes safe and sanitary conditions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service [FSIS] has strict requirements that all food processing facilities must follow.

Here are 5 food safety practices to consider for your warehousing operations

  • Make sure you have a documented sanitation, hygiene, and food safety program in place, with specific policies and procedures for each area of the facility.
  • Establish a baseline for monitoring sanitation practices in the warehouse, including temperature controls, pest control, storage and more.
  • Clean up spills right away. Spills attract pests that could spread germs throughout the facility, endangering the health of employees and customers alike. And inadequate clean up can lead to corrosion or mold issues that will hurt the quality of your products over time.
  • Train employees in proper sanitation practices to minimize mistakes and accidents. Employees who take sanitation seriously make fewer mistakes, reducing costs associated with recalls, product liability suits and damaged goods.
  • And finally, invest in technology that makes it easier to monitor food safety issues throughout your operation, from receiving through delivery to storage and transportation.

Safety measures are designed to eliminate or reduce the risk of injury from accidents, such as slips, trips, falls, cuts, burns, electrocution, etc., by keeping floors dry and free from obstruction; removing tripping hazards; providing adequate lighting; ensuring that equipment is in good working order; protecting workers from injury by providing proper tools; training employees on safe practices; monitoring compliance with safe-handling procedures; etc.

Safety measures are part of an overall approach to ensure that your company maintains a quality product. Customer satisfaction is assured when you provide a quality product in a clean environment where employees are safe while performing their jobs.

Safety training should be part of the hiring process for all new employees and can be integrated into larger training sessions for new hires or during annual reviews. Training should include information on recognizing potential hazards within the work environment, how to address those hazards, and what types of injuries could occur as a result of those hazards. Periodic refresher courses can help keep employees aware of any changes to procedures or standards as well.

One-way companies can make sure that employees follow this kind of policy is through regular company compliance checks. This involves checking storage areas for potential hazards such as leaks, spills and other problems that could put consumers at risk.

By using third parties to conduct these checks, employers can ensure that they take place regularly and objectively without having to spend too much time examining their own facilities themselves.

About food safety and sanitation in manufacturing and distribution

Warehouse sanitation is an important part of any organization's safety and health program. Food-handling and warehouse facilities must be kept clean and sanitary to prevent the spread of bacteria, mold, mildew, dust mites, rodents, insects, birds, and other pests.

A clean facility helps prevent foodborne illness. Sanitation practices are stated in your company's food safety plan. You should ensure that all employees understand how to follow the sanitation practices outlined in the plan.

Sanitation practices vary depending on whether your organization is a restaurant or a food manufacturer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] Food Safety and Inspection Service [FSIS] enforces sanitary standards for restaurants covered by the Employee Health Protection Act [EHP Act]. Retail warehouses handling packaged foods are required to meet certain sanitary standards under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [FD&C Act].

Your organization's warehouse safety plan must include details on how you will comply with these standards. You should establish procedures for cleaning equipment, facilities, storage areas, crates or pallets, trucks or trailers used for transporting food products to customers. Your procedures should also cover how to handle returned goods that have not been safely stored at your facility

Food safety is an important concept to understand. Basically, it means that consumers can trust that the products you manufacture for them are free of any harmful bacteria or other contaminants. To ensure that your warehouse follows proper food safety and sanitation practices, you should hire a third-party food safety consultant or conduct routine internal audits.

Food Safety and Sanitation Standards

Food must be handled in accordance with USDA, FDA, and other local codes. These guidelines are necessary to ensure the safety of all products. If you handle any kind of consumable product [food, for example], these standards should be part of your daily workflow. The following are some examples of these standards:

  • All surfaces must be clean to avoid transferring harmful bacteria to the food.
  • Employees should always wear protective gear while handling food [this includes gloves, aprons, hairnets, etc.].
  • Food temperature must be strictly monitored; meats should never sit above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while cold storage should never exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Raw foods must always be separated from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  • All employees must wash their hands thoroughly before working with food and after visiting the restroom or smoking/eating outside. This is especially important if any employee handles both raw meat

Food safety and sanitation have been subject to regulatory scrutiny in recent years. The Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018, is designed to ensure sanitation procedures are widely enacted at all parts of the supply chain, preventing contaminated food from reaching consumers.

Keeping every part of your supply chain every facility and transportation link free of sanitation violations and risks requires a constant effort from all levels of your organization. Companies can’t afford to take a lackadaisical approach to food safety sanitation and hygiene. The following are a few elements to remember when designing policies that will keep your company compliant and your customers safe.

Ensure your loading dock areas are maintained regularly

When it comes to loading dock operations, sanitation violations are one area in which your company can be cited for failure to comply with regulations. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulations require that any food product be shielded from contamination when on the loading dock.

The regulations also state that all post-processing or post-loading activities, including cleaning or removal of containers, shall not cause contamination of food. Make sure your employees are aware of this regulation and understand that proper sanitation is key to ensuring the safety of food products.

Planning for your loading dock can help reduce the likelihood of violations occurring in this area of your supply chain. For example, you can create a checklist with instructions on how employees should clean and sanitize different areas of the loading dock.

The checklist can also include details about how certain products should be transferred onto trucks or into storage areas prior to transport. Gathering this information in one location will help ensure no one overlooks an important step when unloading products off the truck.

If you run a business that ship products, you need to know that your loading docks are in good working order. If the equipment isn't working correctly, then sanitation issues can arise. The CDC says that leaving food out for too long can cause it to spoil, which creates an unsanitary environment for your employees.

When it comes to loading docks, good maintenance is essential and not just for safety reasons. A clean and orderly loading dock area can help your business run more smoothly and ensure that products reach their destination safely. It also might save you money on labor costs. When your business deals with food products, keeping your loading dock safe and clean is especially important.

While a dirty or broken-down loading dock can lead to several different problems, including sanitation violations, the most obvious issue is that it could lead to injury or damage to goods. Your loading dock needs to be regularly cleaned so as not to cause slips or falls.

Maintaining the Freezer/ cold storage

If you are holding perishable items, you will want to make certain the storage areas designed to hold these products are consistently cold enough to prevent them from spoiling. The best food safety and sanitation practices demand constant attention to the cold chain.

Well-maintained storage equipment is equally important to holding food safely. If your organization stores frozen food in freezers, you need to make sure they are always working properly. There are many signs of freezer malfunctions you need to watch for, including:

  • Freezer doors that do not seal well
  • Leaking water
  • Broken or cracked shelves
  • Rust on the exterior of the freezer
  • Insufficient lighting in the freezer
  • Colder sections of the freezer than others, both inside and out
  • Problems with defrosting or frost build-up inside the unit

These issues may be easily identified by their visual clues. However, there is one problem that can be more difficult to identify: a freezer that is not able to reach temperatures consistently low enough to keep frozen goods frozen. This problem is known as "temperature excursion," and it can occur when a unit begins running non-stop.

To maintain set point temperature, a freezer will keep running until its compressor actually fails from overuse. At this point, the temperature of the contents will begin to rise above 0°F regardless of what you do.

Cold storage refers to the temperature range in which bacteria cannot grow. In order to maintain the cold chain, you should keep food at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The colder your storage areas are, the longer perishable goods can be kept from spoiling.

But in general, your freezer needs to be set around 5 degrees lower than the temperature you want to achieve in the refrigerator. This is because it takes time for the cold air to circulate through the rest of your unit. Your goal should be to keep those two temperatures as close together as possible.

It is also important to keep your freezer clean and maintained in a way that prevents cross-contamination of food products in cold storage. This includes regularly cleaning the floor in order to prevent buildup of bacteria and other objects in high traffic areas.

Sanitize equipment thoroughly

The simplest way to keep your facility equipment in top condition is to follow your manufacturer’s instructions. But in case you need an explanation, here are the main components of cleaning and sanitizing methods: The manual or SOP should include procedures for thorough cleaning of the unit, including the use of brushes.

Sanitization should remove all microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. Check with your manufacturer to determine the appropriate method based on the type of equipment. Note that manufacturers often include different cleaning and sanitizing methods for parts exposed to body fluids. For these parts, you can use bleach solutions at higher concentrations than are normally recommended.

These processes aren't easy or quick, but they are necessary for your safety, comfort, and well-being. You might not be able to see contaminants, but they're there somewhere lurking under the surface where they can conceal themselves from normal anti-bacterial cleansers. And even if you do get rid of them, it's only a matter of time before someone reintroduces them into your facility environment through another means.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] is all over this issue, and they’ve been regulating it for a long time. The National Sanitation Foundation [NSF] sets standards for “sanitizing” equipment, and cleaning companies have been using their certification program to get the word out about what sanitizing really requires.

How do you check to see if your facility is doing this right?

Visually inspect the work area and ask some questions: Is the cleaning crew wearing hairnets and gloves? Are they wearing uniforms with name tags? Are they inspecting equipment and moving things rather than just pushing buttons? Are they carrying around electronic disinfection monitors?

Are you sure these cleaners are following your facility’s sanitation procedures

Because we live in such a sanitized society, people sometimes forget how vulnerable we still are to disease. Sanitation has always been an important issue in food service.

The only way to ensure your facility is complying is to make sure each employee knows what to do and that they do it right every time. This means frequent training and regular inspection of the facility and equipment by management.

Supervision can help ensure this thorough cleaning doesn’t go too far. For instance, if your organization uses a high-pressure water system to clean labs or other high-risk areas, make sure you aren’t damaging the walls or floors in the process.

Keep an eye on the pressure settings and have a conversation with your team about how much force is acceptable. In addition to making sure everything is being cleaned according to protocol, supervisors should remind their teams that the equipment itself needs regular maintenance.

Work on waste disposal procedures and equipment

Operational bottlenecks with regard to the safe and sanitary disposal of waste are to be avoided, and you should make sure there are widely known policies in place to ensure every piece of equipment is being used correctly, and employees are maintaining personal hygiene after handling garbage.

The equipment used to compact and dispose of waste must be kept in top condition, to ensure unsanitary material doesn’t back up. Operational bottlenecks regarding the safe and sanitary disposal of waste are to be avoided, and you should make sure there are widely known policies in place to ensure every piece of machinery is being used correctly, and employees are maintaining personal hygiene after handling garbage.

The equipment used to compact and dispose of waste must be kept in top condition, to ensure unsanitary material doesn’t back up. Operational bottlenecks regarding the safe and sanitary disposal of waste are to be avoided, and you should make sure there are widely known policies in place to ensure every piece of machinery is being used correctly, and employees are maintaining personal hygiene after handling garbage.

Train employee to maintain safety standards

Food safety and sanitation can be a confusing concept for workers to understand, especially if you operate a large facility that produces or handles a lot of food. Workers may not have a clear idea of what is meant by "potentially contaminated goods," and they may not understand the correlation between cleanliness and food safety.

Food safety and sanitation should be an important consideration in your employee training program. Every time an employee comes into contact with contaminated goods, they should be told to make sure the equipment they use is clean. By keeping standards high, you can rest assured that your business will be as safe as possible.

Employees who are not trained in the importance of food safety or sanitation practices will be less likely to follow them. If workers cannot follow the policies you have set up, they cannot protect your business from lawsuits and bacterial contamination. Food-service employees must be trained about proper hand washing and other policies that aid in the safety of your facility.

The need for worker training in food safety and sanitation is not new. In fact, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point [HACCP] model has been used in food production for more than three decades. It was only in the last few years that the United States government began to require companies to use certified HACCP systems, though. The original HACCP model was heavily influenced by the FDA.

Door and Dock Solutions is working hard to support companies as they strive to create the most sanitary and safest possible environment for their employees. We specialize in providing custom solutions for your company whether you're located in a food processing plant, or a hospital or a correctional facility. Each organization has slightly different needs and we work together with you to create a solution that is right for your business and workers. Call us now, Phone: [832] 232 – 9150.

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