Safety Plan for the Warehouse with Refrigeration

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Topic: Tech & Engineering
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Introduction

This is a safety plan for a very large warehouse with a large refrigerated section. Most of the workers have reported cases of illnesses, specifically dizziness and lightheadedness from the refrigerated part of the warehouse. In addition, there are other health risks such as low temperatures, gas powder forklifts, exhaust from the forklifts, and a lack of sensors and environmental monitors, among others. Hence, the food distribution warehouse is a source of safety and health concern for workers and management.

Conducting Investigation

Health issues are common in food distribution warehouses, and they could present significant challenges when such issues emanate from unrecognized resources. Health investigators must conduct a vital analysis of all safety standards, practices, and procedures applied by the organizational management.

The investigators must determine if the food distribution warehouse adheres to recommended safety and health guidelines, particularly in the refrigerated section that is more prone to the health hazards and other safety issues. The investigations to determine the extent of adhering and current health compliance statuses are vital to ensure that the warehouse maintains the recommended food safety and working environment safety measures. This investigation should also determine the safety of food and workers at the warehouse. Further, the warehouse must be investigated based on food packing standards and handling of food products from outside and inside the warehouse. This process is necessary to ensure that contaminated food materials do not mix with freshly packed foods or introduce any toxic substances to the warehouse. Hence, the investigators seek to determine how the warehouse handles returned products and freshly packed food products across the warehouse. It is also imperative to determine if the warehouse maintains a log of food products’ storage conditions, places, and factors that could influence its safety.

The overall objective of the investigation is to ensure that the warehouse adheres to recommended standards for handling food products to curb potential safety and health issues. The investigation must focus on vital issues about the safety and health of the facility. Specifically, the investigation must evaluate safety and health standards in the refrigerated section to ensure that they meet the required health standards set by regulating agencies.

In addition, the investigation will determine the waste management system at the warehouse. Specifically, the process must account for the evaluation of ventilation systems, waste handling, and disposal, and gas leakage and heat detection systems. Through evaluating these systems, the investigators would ascertain factors contributing to dizziness, lightheadedness, and other health concerns in the warehouse. It is also necessary to assess loading dock and car lines safety and health procedures because they terminate directly inside the warehouse. Docking and shipping locations should be of interest to investigators because of their importance and contact with the refrigerated section. The investigator must determine if these places meet minimum health and safety standards. In addition, the investigation must concentrate on the health and safety of all 14 workers. The investigation must also determine that workers are working under hygienic conditions, follow safety procedures, and not exposed to hazardous exhaust materials.

Identification of Possible Sources of the Problem

It is commended that the food distribution warehouse has installed a refrigeration system to detect any anomalies with the unit. However, the management has failed to implement health and safety standards in other parts of the warehouse. The effects of these failures are notable in ill health and dizziness. Moreover, by considering the physical attributes of the warehouse, it could lead to lightheadedness and dizziness, perhaps from low temperatures and gas emission.

The warehouse management has taken safety measures to protect the facility from warm air getting in or cold air leaving the section. In addition, the warehouse is closed on the docking and loading zones.

One potential source of health and safety concerns for workers is the gas powder that may emanate from the forklift. The forklift emits carbon gas. Thus, the facility could be filled with gases rich in carbon. By considering the low temperatures at the warehouse and the emitted carbon gas, the carbon gas may react with the cold air and form dangerous carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. These gases are known to cause dizziness and sickness among employees who work in the refrigerated section of the warehouse. Notably, the warehouse lacks any form of environmental detection measures and mitigation strategies. This implies that a significant amount of toxic gases can accumulate within the warehouse, go undetected, and then cause ill health with notable symptoms among employees.

Furthermore, it is also important to recognize that the warehouse is sealed to prevent the movement of gases in and out. Consequently, toxic gases continue to accumulate within the refrigeration section and cause adverse effects on employees. The seal ensures that no fresh air can rush into the room and, therefore, the condition results in hazardous working conditions for employees in the refrigerated section. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the warehouse could remain undetected because of the gases do not have any distinctive odor. In addition, the lack of any environmental detection systems in the warehouse implies that health conditions could get much worse before they are detected.

The Standards Applicable to Possible Sources

Health and safety organizations have been established to provide best practices and standards to guide food-handling processes. One such standard is the International Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The HACCP acts as a preventive tool rather than an inspection one. It is developed as a methodical preventive tool to ensure food safety from various forms of health risks, including chemical, biological, and physical ones during production (United States Department of Agriculture, 2005). Thus, it ensures that the finished food remains safe for consumption. The standard can assist in all processes of food production and preparation, including packaging and distribution.

The Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) also offers minimum requirements for food manufacturers to observe during production. Thus, the practice ensures food safety standards in the warehouse (Food and Drug Administration, 2005).

The GMP and the HACCP require food manufacturers and distributors to observe at least minimum standards of safety and health. They account for clean, hygienic food production areas, controlled environmental conditions, clearly defined production processes, constant evaluations of any changes, and the use of written procedures. In addition, these standards require trained operators, well-kept records, recalling batch, and a system to examine any complaints from consumers. These requirements also insist on spacious warehouses to facilitate storage, inspection, and cleaning.

These standards and guidelines may not provide prescriptive methods on food manufacturing and distribution. Instead, they offer a series of requirements and principles, which manufacturers and distributors should observe when conducting manufacturing activities. Food manufacturers and distributors should establish their quality standards and procedures to ensure that they meet GMP and HACCP requirements. Thus, the warehouse management team should focus on their specific responsibilities to identify the most efficient and effective health and safety standards. GMP and HACCP provide quality standards, which the product should meet along the chain.

In the food distribution packaging and distribution, ventilation systems are vital. An effective flow of air is required to maintain the recommended standards. In addition, storage must provide space for air circulation through vents and blowers. This standard ensures optimal air circulation in the warehouse.

The management team should constantly monitor, control, and record temperatures at the refrigerated part of the warehouse. These processes ensure that the right temperatures are maintained and sustained in the warehouse as recommended. The warehouse should be free from damages. In addition, floors must also be cleaned, any debris removed, and is free from spillages.

The warehouse shipping and dock sections must also be cleaned following safety and cleaning procedures. Only recommended cleaning materials should be used.

The refrigeration system is necessary to sustain the quality of the stored food products. Hence, the system should be subjected to thorough regular monitoring to detect any anomalies in temperature variations. In fact, automatic monitoring and recording systems should be installed for such purposes.

Best manufacturing practices and procedures are provided to ensure that production, testing, and quality standards of food during production and distribution processes are met. Hence, such products can remain safe for human consumption while the warehouse also remains safe for workers. The warehouse guidelines on safety and health should meet the recommended standards and health laws and regulars.

Recommendations

The investigation has revealed critical sources of problems at the warehouse. It is necessary for the management to relocate the refrigeration section from the rest of the warehouse. This approach would ensure that other parts are not sealed, get free air circulation, and prevent the accumulation of toxic gases.

Employees have reported health and safety issues related to toxic gas poisoning. These gases accumulate because the warehouse lacks any blower, and it is poorly ventilated. It is therefore recommended that adequate ventilation systems should be installed to ensure optimal air circulation in the warehouse.

The refrigerated area is installed with the necessary detection systems. However, other parts of the warehouse lack similar installations. Thus, environmental detection systems are required in the warehouse for quick detection of accumulated toxic gases. These systems would ensure that employees are protected from accumulating gases.

The rail car lines terminate directly in proximity to the production section. Rail cars emit carbon gases, which could affect food products and the quality of air at the warehouse. Thus, it is necessary for the management to redesign the warehouse to separate the rail car terminal from the refrigeration section. These changes would ensure that the production section maintains high air quality. Separation of sections at the warehouse would ensure minimal contaminations, exposure, accumulation, and spread of toxic gases. Moreover, employees will have simple procedures and order of conducting their affairs. The warehouse will eliminate needless contacts and restrict contamination.

Overall, the warehouse management should focus on best practices, safety, and health guidelines regarding food production and distribution to ensure that the products are safe. In addition, the management team must observe health and safety issues based on recommended standards, laws, and regulations to protect employees at the warehouse.

References

Food and Drug Administration. (2005). Food CGMP Modernization — A Focus on Food Safety. Web.

United States Department of Agriculture. (2005). Guidance for school food authorities: developing a school food safety program based on the process approach to HACCP principles. Web.