Approximately 25% of all accidents that occur in the manufacturing sector are reported to occur in the food and drink industry. Nine out of every ten of these accidents occur in the manufacture of food, with the remainder arising in the drinks sector. Fortunately, only around 15% of the injuries that are caused by accidents in the food and drink industry are described as “major” injuries. These are generally caused by slips, trips and falls from height. Less serious injuries tend to involve lifting and handling of heavy and/or awkward objects and being struck by falling items.
We set out below a list of the main factors that cause accidents in food manufacturing.
- Manual Handling
Almost a third of all injuries in food manufacturing arise as a result of manual handling, invariably involving lifting heavy objects. The injuries that are most frequently caused affect the spinal region of the worker involved, ranging from minor strains to significant disc problems.
- Slips and Trips
Over a third of the “major” injuries that arise in the food manufacturing industry are as a result of slips and trips. In fact, there are more injuries caused by slips and trips in the food manufacturing sector than in virtually any other industry. Around 80% of these accidents involve slips on water or foodstuffs that have not been cleared away, with the remainder being caused by trips.
- Falls from Height
Falls from height cause the greatest number of serious injuries (occasionally involving fatalities) in the food manufacturing industry. The falls tend to be from ladders, machinery, delivery vehicles, elevated platforms, stairs, roofs and gantries. Obviously, the most serious injuries tend to occur when the fall is from a greater height although falls from as little as two metres have been recorded as causing the death of a worker.
- Transport Injuries
Over one quarter of fatal injuries in the food manufacturing industry are caused by workplace transport accidents. Most of these are crushing injuries when a vehicle collides with a worker and the majority involves either a delivery vehicle or a fork lift truck. Alternatively, accidents may be caused by a worker being crushed between two vehicles. In many cases, the accident is caused by a reversing vehicle. In addition to crushing injuries, other injuries are caused by a worker falling from a vehicle or being struck by an object that falls from a vehicle.
- Machinery Injuries
As in every industry, moving machinery presents a significant risk of injury in the food manufacturing sector. Whether the machinery involved is part of the food processing or the packaging of the finished product, if workers are not adequately trained in the use of the machinery or the machinery is not properly guarded, the risk of an accident is increased
Cuts from knives are a frequent cause of injuries in the food manufacturing industry and can range from minor cuts to severe lacerations and even the loss of one or more fingers.
Like most occupations, the food manufacturing industry can be hazardous to its workers. However, the implementation of safety measures, the provision of protective equipment and the appropriate training of employees will all reduce the risk of accidents and the consequent injuries to the workforce.
If you have any questions relating to accidents in food manufacturing or any other workplace related accident, please contact us.