MRO Magazine

Building a culture of safety in food and beverage manufacturing

By EMC   

Food Health & Safety Food & Beverage beverage food and beverage food safety manufacturing productivity Safety worker safety

Due to sector-wide labour shortages and continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian F&B manufacturing industry now relies upon temporary workers more than ever.

Photo Maksymenko Nataliia / iStock / Getty Images

While the usage of short-term labour can certainly prevent losses in productivity, employers must be cognizant of the effect temporary employment has on food safety. Workers in F&B manufacturing have a unique set of responsibilities that they must fulfill without error to prevent contamination of their product. If established food safety guidelines are not met, the resulting fallout can
be catastrophic.

It is important for F&B manufacturers to create and maintain effective food safety protocols throughout their facilities, and ensure that these rules are followed regardless of a worker’s employment status. Building a culture of food safety shouldn’t be a dry, tedious process, for maximum employee engagement, leaders must understand the needs of their workforce, and make efforts to address them in an interesting, engaging way.

Communication is key to establishing an internal culture. As such, employers should possess a strong, up-to-date knowledge of their workforce’s demographics to accurately utilize informational messaging.

Determine your employee base’s communication skills:
-Can your workers comprehend English?
-Do they prefer verbal or written instructions?
-What kind of phrasing and word choice resonates most effectively with them?

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Photo brookebecker / iStock / Getty Images

The high level of temporary labour utilized by F&B manufacturers will likely necessitate the creation of instructional material in more than one language. Bilingual messaging isn’t the only effective form of inclusive communication, but also visual-heavy instructional materials (like photographs, videos, or illustrations), workers of any background can understand food safety practices and other important information. Using pictorial directions also allows for thorough demonstration of complicated processes, further reducing the likelihood of miscommunication and preventing on-the-job mistakes. To enhance visual-based messaging, consider the implementation of digital technologies through company tablets or employees’ own mobile phones, and develop instructional content that can be easily accessed at any time.

Interaction is a vital component of information retention, and employees that are actively engaged with a culture of food safety will likely have a far greater understanding of their guidelines than those that only follow them passively. As with any form of positive workplace behaviour, adherence to food safety rules should be incentivized through systems that validate and acknowledge employee efforts.

For example, many successful F&B manufacturers hold regular “town hall” sessions where workers of any employment status are given the opportunity to voice their thoughts in a public setting, allowing majority interests to be immediately gaged by and presented to leadership. Other businesses utilize contests, quizzes, and giveaways to promote and reward knowledge of food safety practices, heightening employee engagement through the appeal of tangible compensation.

In addition to strengthening employees’ knowledge of food safety guidelines, participation in workplace events can reinforce the bonds between workers of any type, and can help increase company loyalty, potentially spurring interest in full-time commitment from
temporary workers.

At a time when the Canadian supply chain is under an incredible load, ensuring employee adherence to food safety standards is crucial to maintaining productivity, efficiency, and profitability. By establishing a fun, active, and engaging workplace culture, F&B manufacturers can feel confident in their employees’ knowledge and discipline, and can reap the numerous benefits of a compliant, high-performing organization. F&B
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Article provided by Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC).

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