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End-to-End Safety for the Whole Food Production Process

Shezad Khan, Food and Retail

One of the key differences between safety equipment in the food sector and other sectors, is that we need to also consider the safety of the products as well the people involved in production and distribution.

A need for personal protection is common to most sectors. However, with food in particular, there is also a considerable requirement for product protection in the form of PPE like coveralls, gloves, and beard and hair coverings. These items are required in bulk and are largely single use. This can be a significant expense in a sector that is very price sensitive. One of my key challenges is making sure we always provide products that are fully compliant and fit for purpose, but which also represent excellent value.

But working for Arco, the value I can add goes far beyond just price and product.

Helping Get Safety Procedures Locked Down

Large machines are a particular hazard in this sector, so making sure there's no residual electric charge or momentum remaining within the machinery is a critical issue. When things are not locked off properly there's always a risk of accidents. This is a risk I am able to help clients manage as well as advising on the appropriate Lockout Tagout devices to keep their people safe.

Another common risk in the food sector is slips, due to the oil and grease that can find its way onto floors during food production. We can provide pendulum testing to assess the risk, provide advice and guidance on effective cleaning products and regimes to reduce the risk, and slip resistant footwear for employees.

I also help our customers to put safety procedures in place and write these into their Standard Operating Procedures. This is another area where my expertise really comes into its own, helping customers to ensure that their people are kept safe, and that safety audits by bodies like the HSE run smoothly. Being able to demonstrate that products and procedures are in place also helps them with the cost of insurance.

The Benefit of My Experience and External Viewpoint

One area where I can definitely add value is by spotting things that my customers can miss. For example, while visiting a large customer who were shortly due to have an audit from the Environment Agency, I spotted hazardous chemicals being stored on the floor. I was able to point this out and provide them with a solution which not only avoided an issue with the inspection, but helped them to ensure that these didn’t enter the drains and watercourse.

On another site visit to a different client's premises, I noticed a low section of steel ducting that people could bang their heads on. We were able to provide a protective edging to cushion the sharp edge, and provide signage warning employees of the potential hazard.

Food being packaged in plastic seal in factory

When visiting different sites of my larger customers, I can often help them to share examples of best practice in safety where I spot differences or discrepancies in safety equipment or practice between sites. Not only does this ensure that their safety procedures are more standardised, but it also helps them save money, time and hassle and improve their overall levels of safety.

Bringing The Wider Capabilities of Arco to Customers

What is fulfilling about working for Arco is that the whole company is geared towards helping me do my job well. Anyone can sell a nitrile glove, but can they also provide a full end-to-end safety solution that might include face-fit testing or training for people working at height or in confined spaces? With the resources, scale and reach of Arco, I can offer complete joined-up approach to manage the unique challenges of my clients. So not only am I able to deliver on products, but I can add value at every step.

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