Creating food for human consumption is something that requires a great deal of care and diligence. It also puts a little bit of risk onto the people doing the manufacturing. Both plants and animals have the potential to carry harmful pathogens, and processing often involves the use of potentially harmful chemicals and mincing machines.
For the sake of both the final product and the staff themselves, therefore, it’s vital that everyone wears the appropriate personal protective equipment.
PPE for food production comes in many different types, and aims to solve a range of problems. Sometimes, the potential harm isn’t obvious, and might creep in over the long-term. Identifying these and correcting for them ahead of time is critical, however.
What are the main types of PPE?
Let’s run through the most important items of PPE.
These are essential for preventing the spread of pathogens to and from the hands of the people handling the food. If you’ve handling raw poultry, the danger might be obvious; but even if you aren’t, gloves play a crucial role in limiting the risk. Disposable gloves should be replaced whenever a worker does anything to contaminate the existing set – like handling cash or sneezing.
If you’re standing for hours on end, then you need to take care of your feet. The shoes you wear will have an effect not only on your feet, but your entire body. Look for something robust, comfortable and supportive.
If you’re dealing with high humidity in a food production environment, then you need to be able to protect your eyes while still maintaining visibility. The right goggles will help with this.
Food production often entails the release of harmful and foul-smelling odours. A respiratory mask will help you to avoid inhaling these. Not all masks are interchangeable; look for one that offers protection against the type of gas you’re guarding against.
Machinery produces noise. It might not be loud enough to cause physical discomfort – but if you’re in a factory setting for hours on end every day for several years, the cumulative effect on your hearing can be considerable. Look for hearing protection that you feel comfortable wearing for extended periods.
You hair can act as a vehicle for a range of different pathogens, as well as grease and other nastiness. What’s more, there are a few things likelier to cause someone to lose their appetite than the sight of a stray hair in an item of food. Hair nets allow you to prevent hair from falling into the food you’re working with.
The right PPE isn’t just nice to have if you’re working with food – often, it’s essential. Look carefully into what’s required, and make sure that you are ticking the necessary boxes.