When designing production equipment, it is crucial to follow rules and regulations stating what demands the equipment must live up to in order to ensure operator safety. Many potential risks are eliminated automatically when CE-marking the equipment by following the European Machinery Directive. In addition, there are rules regarding cleanliness, what materials to use and how the equipment should be designed to achieve excellent hygiene.
Each industry has its own challenges regarding operator safety. For the food industry, it is the need for production equipment that is easy to clean in order to minimize the microbiological risk to maintain food safety. The more open and exposed a piece of production equipment is, the easier it is to clean. However, an open and exposed system also increases the risk of operator injuries. Thus, it is a matter of balancing the safe handling of food in production without negotiating operator safety.
One of the biggest potential safety risks for operators working in food production is the exposure of pinch points that might result in serious injury. Other potential safety risks include loud noise levels and non-ergonomic working tasks such as manual packaging operations and lifting. One way to minimize these types of risks is to add automation such as a collaborative robot that can support the operator when loading a pallet. Also to review the layout from an operator aspect is crucial during the design phase to create a good overview as well as easy access to both the equipment and the products. Our experience is that this type of reviews is much appreciated by both production and maintenance teams.
One of the most important objectives in a food production environment, aside from food safety, is to achieve high operator safety. Through decreasing or even eliminating safety hazards during the design phase, the need for operator protection can be significantly reduced, making for a better and easier working environment. This, combined with a smart and reliable production flow, requires minimal interaction from the operators. Instead of, for example, having to start and stop the production due to lack of reliability, which can create unforeseen events like handling products that are stuck, their main task is allowed to be more supervisory. This will minimize the risk of injuries for the operators and at the same time maintain high production effectiveness.
In our previous blog article, Food safety and HACCP implementation: An Introduction, we described food safety and why it is important for consumers, brands and sometimes entire companies. In this blog article, we will dig deeper into the world of food production and talk about operator safety and the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in food production lines. In addition, we will describe how safety hazards can be reduced.
Read full article Operator safety in food production | FlexLink Blog