This year saw a number of high-profile factory shutdowns due to Covid. We share practical actions to minimise risk and reassure staff.
This is in addition to Listeria and foreign-body related high-profile product recalls across most supermarket groups.
This can have a devastating effect on a business. Speculation over the source of contamination for a spate of listeriosis deaths forced a sandwich business into liquidation at the cost of 125 jobs. The FSA later cleared the firm in question, but the damage had already been done.
The risk of any type of outbreak makes creating the right hygiene culture business-critical. The cost of Covid-19 lies with the risk: A single diagnosis can force a whole factory to shut down with additional deep cleaning.
Make teams feel protected
Food facility operatives are used to covering up so there should be no issue in asking them to don full face masks, hair nets, beard snoods, goggles, and overalls. Consider upgrading your PPE for even more body coverage, such as visors for those who wear glasses or walk around. The outcomes will be both practical and psychological.
As well as more comprehensive PPE, when staff are stationery such as when working on a line, consider following the lead of the retail sector and install screens between each operative.
Create a hygiene culture that delivers ROI
Hygiene risk management is a mindset as much as a process. Best practice comes from the top and must be apparent through the values, attitudes and working practices of the senior management team. However, the real secret lies in making it easy, if people do not have to actively think too hard about, then half the battle is won.
Hygiene should be the first thing on the minds of staff as they enter the building and the last thing as they leave. This means signage should be a priority in key areas, for example around waste bins and in washrooms.
“Make safe hygiene best practice become second nature”
Covid risk management means the importance of personal hygiene makes previous standards look relaxed. It's worth monitoring 20' hand-washing data from infra-red taps. This can provide insight into wash times for every shift via a data download to help identify potential issues.
A nudge in the right direction
Use “Nudge Theory” to encourage hygiene standards with minimal effort. Simple examples can include placing soap dispensers to the favoured side, the deployment of hand gel dispensing door handles at the entrance to production areas.
“While these are practical tools in themselves, they also play an important role in subtly reinforcing the importance of Covid safe hygiene standards throughout the facility.”
It’s vital you can trust your staff to do the right thing when it comes to Covid safe hygiene. While common sense has a part to play, we do need to be pragmatic in that food facilities often have high turnovers of staff, many temporary.
You don’t have to be too draconian in instilling a hygiene culture, as we’ve seen overt and subliminal cues have a role to play. But the best solution is to remove any friction, hygienic best practice is so easy that you don’t have to think about it.