Over 20 million food and beverage workers across Canada and the U.S. face a myriad of workplace hazards daily. As many as 24% of them have been injured on their current job; 17% within the first year working there.1 Experts say this high incident rate can be attributed in part to poor job training and lack of ongoing coaching from supervisors. 

To crack down on unnecessary workplace hazards and enforce required training, provinces like Ontario, Canada, have heightened the stakes significantly for both corporations and individual supervisors. Effective January, 2018, Ontario’s Ministry of Labor (MOL) increased fines and penalties at least three-fold, while supervisors, culpable and convicted for lack of enforcing training and safety measures, can now face imprisonment for workplace accidents. 

Test your business and manager’s safety preparedness with the following 5 questions:

  1. Do you have an active Internal Responsibility System (IRS)? Ontario’s MOL requires businesses to have an IRS committee. An IRS committee is a group of employees that host regular meetings with the goal of reporting existing risks or concerns. This list is typically the result of a monthly audit where committee members or a safety professional is walking through the plant and checking to make sure equipment is in good working condition, machine guarding is on (not bypassed), and reasonable precautions are being taken to protect workers. 
  2. What type training and when is it conducted? Training begins at onboarding with new employees learning job-related tasks. For example, employees working with a fryer should know what to do if there is a flareup; the location of the active fire suppression system; when to walk away/call for help; and procedures to prevent injury. Teach good manufacturing practices and personal protection, including: wearing hair nets, proper shoes and how to operate the equipment safely. 
  3. How do you deal with issues of workplace hazards, harassment and violence? Have a well-defined policy in place. Post it and disseminate it across the workforce. For example, if the plant works with ammonia, all employees need to know where it is and what the risks are. Train employees and supervisors. 
  4. Are safety plans regularly reviewed? Resist the urge to put a plan in place and forget about it. Review safety plans on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, annually), make necessary changes and update them as new equipment comes onto the line or new safety requirements surface from the MOL or OSHA, or the NFPA changes their standards. Stay up to date on all regulations and update your plans accordingly. 
  5. Is proper housekeeping in place? Report lost time injuries as they happen to MOL and OSHA, as required. Keep all your paperwork in order for periodic MOL inspections. 

Your HUB risk services specialist can help 

In addition to providing claims advocacy post-accident, your HUB risk services specialist can keep you updated on food and beverage industry requirements in Canada. Making necessary changes today, before the MOL or OSHA visits your business, is critical to avoiding fines and penalties. If you’ve had a citation in the past, the agencies will be less lenient the next time around. Contact your HUB risk services specialist today.  

1. https://www.alchemysystems.com/content/research/mind-of-the-food-worker/