Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry

Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety
Guidance Notes
for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
10:47 am
Page 2
Health and Safety Guidance Note for the Meat Industry
An Introduction to Health and Safety in the Meat Industry
Training for Health and Safety
Risk Assessment in Meat Processing
High Voltage Electrical Stimulation (HVES)
BSE - In Revision
Machinery Safety and Hygiene Standards
Manual Handling
Safe use of Knives
Bowl choppers
Brine Injectors
Gas Flushing
Dicers and Cubers
Frozen Meat Cutter
High Speed Slicing Machines
Pig Dressing Equipment - Scald Tanks
Pig Dressing Equipment - Dehairers
Pig Dressing Equipment - Gambrel Tables
Pig Dressing Equipment - Singers
Pig Dressing Equipment - Scrapers and Polishers
Pig Dressing Equipment - Hand held torch type Singers
Mincemasters and Lowboys
Smokers and Cookers
Hopper-Fed Sausage Fillers
Patty Formers and Extruders
Derinders, Skinning and Membrane Machines
Loin Pullers
Cleaning Operations
Workplace Transport
Thermal Comfort
Mechanical Deboning Machine System
Insect Killers
Safe Methods for Preparation of Fresh Meat Chops
Other useful publications and guidance
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
These Guidance Notes have been prepared
by representatives of the BMPA and
following organisations in consultation
with the Health and Safety Executive
and published on their behalf by BMPA
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN1
An Introduction to Health and Safety
in the Meat Industry
Meeting the demands of the seemingly ever increasing legal
requirements affecting the meat industry can seem an
overwhelming task. Health and safety requirements may seem the
last straw, especially for small companies. However, with the help
available in these guidance notes the task is made easier and
companies can reduce costs by getting to grips with health
and safety.
In a typical year the meat industry reports about 200 major
injuries and 3,000 other reportable injuries to employees. These
figures take no account of the under-reporting known to exist or
of the many other injuries where time off work is less than 3 days.
These figures put the meat industry amongst the worst performing
sectors of the food industry, which itself is one of the worst
performing sectors of the manufacturing industry generally. For
example, in 1991 an employee in the slaughtering sector was 10
times more likely to be injured than the average person at work.
Apart from pain and suffering, legal consequences, and problems
with enforcement authorities, the losses these accidents represent
must be enormous. Studies in other industries by the Health and
Safety Executive (HSE) have shown that accidents are a major
cost to organisations. For example, a creamery employing around
300 people lost almost £250,000 in 3 months when the true cost
of all accidents were known. In a similar study, a transport
company's losses amounted to 37% of their annual profits. The
HSE/Meat Trades Joint Working Party is where inspectors from
the HSE Food Section and representatives of the industry trade
associations, trade unions and others get together to identify the
health and safety issues the meat industry needs to face and
prepare guidance on what can be done. Guidance notes have been
produced for over 20 years and contain a large amount of useful
In recent times the health and safety legal framework has
changed significantly and the emphasis has now moved from
specific requirements to assessment of risk and the setting of
goals. While this makes the law simpler, it makes it more difficult
for employers to know exactly when they have done enough to
meet the law's requirements, both in practical and management
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
For this reason, some guidance notes of a different style have
been prepared. These do not concentrate on technical matters
but help employers in the meat industry adapt to the new legal
framework. The guidance on risk assessment is designed to
complement HSE and Food and Drink Federation guidance.
Identifying significant risks and priorities is important. Some kinds
of accidents such as slips, trips and falls or knife injuries have
long dominated the statistics and the numbers still stubbornly
refuse to come down. It is now recognised that active
management of safety can successfully reduce these numbers.
In essence, organisations which succeed do so by identifying
hazards, risks and priorities, planning and setting performance
standards; and then actively measuring performance against
these standards. Of course, there are many other factors such as
clear communication, understanding and access to information.
Much of this is now an explicit requirement of the Management
of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. Against this
background of risk assessment, setting priorities and performance
standards, new guidance notes will be prepared or reviewed to
ensure that useful material exists for all significant risks. These
will set out as clearly as possible what employers need to do to
control these risks in practical terms. While the guidance notes
set out standards agreed to be acceptable and are used by
employers and inspectors alike in assessing conditions in
workplaces against legal requirements, other solutions may of
course be possible - and technical progress will be made.
Making sure your company meets the standards agreed in the
guidance may take some effort. However, if employers make
that effort the number of accidents in the meat industry can be
significantly lowered.
Any questions you have on the guidance can be raised through
your trade association, local inspector or directly with the HSE,
Food Section, 375 West George Street, Glasgow G2 4LW,
telephone 041 275 3000.
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The following statistics show how the meat industry compares
with other industries and what are the most common types of
Incidence rates are calculated according to the HSE standard, i.e.
number of accidents divided by number of employees, multiplied
by 100,000. When this guidance note was first published in 1990
the accident incidence rate for the slaughtering sector was 8125
and for the meat processing industry, 4852.
A small survey of meat plants that carry out the full range of
processes from slaughtering to retail packing, shows that 30%
of the accidents occur in packing. Typically, where packing is
not carried out the accident split is 50% boning, 40% other and
10% slaughter.
Major injuries include fractures to limbs, amputations, 24 hour
hospitalisation and injuries (including electric shock) leading to
unconsciousness. O3D (over three day) injuries are those which
keep an employee off normal work for more than 3 days.
For a complete list see RIDDOR explained: HSE leaflet HSE 31 (Rev).
No of Emp.
Major Rate
All injury rate
Slaughtering and by-products
31 / 1 fatal
Bacon curing and meat processing
Poultry slaughtering and processing
Total all food manufacture average
1118 / 3 fatal
6097 / 42 fatal
All manufacturing industry average
Injury while handling, lifting, carrying including sprains and strains
Slip, trip or fall on same level
Hit by moving, flying or falling object
Fall from a height
Injury by an animal
Contact with moving machine or material being machined
Hit something fixed or stationary
Exposure to or contact with harmful or hot substance
Hit by moving vehicle
Accident not falling into the categories listed
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Injury while handling, lifting, carrying including sprains and strains
Slip, trip or fall on same level
Hit by moving, flying or falling object – includes accidents involving power tools
Contact with moving machine or material being machined
Hit something fixed or stationary
Exposure to or contact with harmful or hot substance
Fall from a height
Injury by an animal
Hit by a moving vehicle
Contact with electricity
Accident not falling into the categories listed
Injury while handling, lifting, carrying including sprains or strains
Injury while handling, lifting, carrying including sprains or strains
Slip, trip or fall on same level
Slip, trip or fall on same level
Hit by moving, flying or falling object
Hit by moving, flying or falling object
Contact with moving machine or material being machined
Contact with moving machine or material being machined
FFH, Hit by vehicle, Exposure to harmful substance
Hit something fixed or stationary
Accident not falling into the categories listed
FFH, Hit by vehicle, Exposure to harmful substance
Accident not falling into the categories listed
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN2
Training for Health and Safety in the
Meat and Poultry Industry
This guidance note summarises the current legally required health
and safety training needs of companies and gives suggested
training outlines for different grades of staff. Areas of particular
relevance to the meat and poultry industry are listed at appendix
1 and the specific legal duties on training most applicable to the
meat industry are listed at appendix 2.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act)
and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
1992 all employees, including supervisors and managers, need to
receive training to ensure competence in health and safety
aspects of their job. There are specific requirements under
individual pieces of legislation (see appendix 2).
Training needs at all levels are likely to be greater on recruitment.
All new employees should receive basic induction training covering such things as company rules, individual responsibilities, firstaid, fire and emergency procedures. Beyond this, training needs
to be tailored to the job and responsibilities of employees concerned. Supervision, practice and development of skills are also
important. All health and safety training and assessment sessions
are to be documented and included in the employees training
In small firms training may have to take the form of individual
tuition. The extent of such training will vary between individuals
depending upon existing competence. The training need should
always be assessed. This is particularly important with young
people and others new to the sector. It should never be assumed
that appropriate or effective training has been given e.g. by previous employers. It is equally important to assess the outcomes of
training to ensure competence. National and Scottish Vocational
Qualifications (N/SVQs) contain units on health and safety and
provide for such an assessment to nationally agreed standards.
The Meat Training Council is happy to advise on N/SVQs and
training courses, materials and organisations offering training.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Where safety representatives have been appointed by trade
unions under the 1977 Safety Representative and Safety
Committee Regulations or elected under the 1996 Health and
Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations, there is a
duty to consult with them in good time on the arrangements for
health and safety training. The views of the safety representatives
will help in assessing the adequacy and effectiveness of the
training provided
Senior Managers
Senior managers (this includes partners or directors of small
firms) need to know enough about health and safety matters to
determine priorities and assess the performance of people further
down the management line.
They need to make sure that a responsible and professional
attitude is exhibited throughout, by themselves, by departmental
managers and, via supervisors, all other employees. They should
make clear that failure by employees at any level to obey safety
rules will be taken as seriously as failure to obey other company
rules such as those, which govern hygiene, production, etc. This
commitment to health and safety, together with a commitment to
training, should be given in the company safety policy.
Managers and Supervisors
Health and safety training for managers and supervisors is
essential. They have a key responsibility for maintaining a safe
working environment.
They need to be aware of hazards within their area of
responsibility, company standards and the procedures for ensuring
standards are maintained and used when necessary, e.g. wearing
of protective gloves during knife work or emergency evacuation
and rescue procedures in the event of an ammonia leak.
For employees, training is most needed to ensure competence and
safe performance in their work tasks.
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Company Structure
This should be explained by a director, company secretary, or a
senior manager responsible for health and safety. It should
include the names of the departments and managers.
Company Safety Policy
Copies of the current policy should be provided for employees.
The meaning of the document and the company’s commitment to
it should be explained. Particular attention is to be given to
arrangements for monitoring health and safety standards and the
role of supervisors and departmental managers.
Safety Committee
• Terms of reference and membership.
• Arrangements for calling meetings and actioning matters agreed
• Copies of the minutes of the last meeting should be distributed
Safety Representatives
• The role of the safety representative and agreed arrangements
for joint consultation on health and safety at work.
Occupational Health Arrangements
• Including first-aid arrangements and facilities, any specific
arrangements for health-related issues, services of any medical
and nursing staff.
Responsibilities of Individuals
• The need to obey the company rules: disciplinary procedures.
• Reporting of accidents, near misses and work-related health
Hazards and Standards for Safe Working
• General overview of significant site hazards which may affect
all and relevant precautions.
Fire and other Emergencies
• State whether there is a fire certificate; describe means of
escape and the need for good housekeeping to maintain them.
• Rules on smoking; fire extinguishers, alarms and evacuation
Training should not be used to compensate for inadequacies such
as poorly safeguarded machinery or badly designed workstations.
All health and safety training should be recorded.
Identifying Training Needs
• Consider risks and hazards in the workplace.
• Consider accident, ill health and incident records relevant to
the job, to identify how such events have occurred and how
they can be prevented.
• Information from workers about how jobs are done.
• Observation of tasks, comparison with known good practice
Basic Instruction
• Equipment to use, how it works, what it does
• Dangers associated with use
• Proper use of equipment including safety and health precautions
• Cleaning of equipment
• Fault reporting
• What protective equipment to wear
Final Check
To ensure effectiveness of training techniques like close supervision during introduction to work and questionnaires designed to
test understanding of safe operating procedures should be used.
Information on training and testing should be kept with employee
• Explanation of supervisors' and managers' responsibilities for
the health and safety of those under their role as defined in
the company's safety policy and job description,
encouragement of employees by personal example
• Consultation with safety representatives, where they have
been elected, and organising paid release for their training
and for carrying out their functions
• Identification of training needs of workers
• Company commitment not to tolerate the breaking of safety
Hazard identification and risk assessment
• Significant hazards and risks in their area of responsibility
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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• The precautions necessary to avoid hazards and control risks
Monitoring of health and safety standards
• Regular preventive inspections
• Preparation of safety check lists
• Occupational health provision
• Initiation of remedial action
Accident investigation
• Typical causes of accidents; relationship between near misses,
minor and serious accidents.
• Reporting of accidents and identification of actions needed to
prevent recurrence
Relevant legal requirements
• Acts, e.g. Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
• Regulations, e.g. Noise at Work Regulations 1989, Control of
Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1988, Electricity
at Work Regulations 1989, Management of Health and Safety
at Work Regulations 1992 and other regulations implementing
European Community Directives
• Approved codes of practice, e.g. COSHH, first aid at work
• Powers of Inspectors
Sources of information
BMPA Guidance Notes, Trade Unions e.g. USDAW, Health and
Safety Executive (HSE), Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC),
Meat Training Council (MTC), National Federation of Meat and
Food Traders (NFMFT) etc.
• The purpose and implications of the company safety policy
• Provision of adequate resources for implementing the policy
• Consideration of health and safety implications when planning
and decision-making
• Personal accountability
• The need to encourage interest in and commitment to, health
and safety; safety culture
• Assessment and review of company health and safety
performance. Use of safety audits. Role of the competent
person/safety adviser. Role of occupational health services
Causes of accidents, ill health and hearing loss. Costs of
these losses
• Training needs of employees including those of managers with
additional health and safety responsibilities
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
• Functions of safety representatives and safety committees
• The requirements of relevant acts, regulations and
approved codes of practice, including legal duties to visitors
and contractors
• Knowledge of the work of HSE and an understanding of the
role and power of inspectors.
• Existence of relevant standards, e.g. BMPA Guidance and HSE
publications and commitment to apply these throughout the
Health and safety areas where training is of particular relevance
in the meat and poultry industry are as follows:
1. Slips and trips
Correct selection of footwear and its maintenance
Correct avoidance of spillages and cleaning up
Correct ways of moving around to minimise risk
2. Prevention of cuts and stabs during use of
knives and hand tools
Correct use of knife for particular job
Use of correct knife for particular job
Sharpening of knife
Misuse, bad practice, storage
Correct use of protective equipment
Emergency first aid
3. Dangerous machines
Meat mincing machines
Bowl choppers
Circular knife slicers
Machines with circular saw blades
4. Manual handling
Sides and quarters of meat
Boxed meat
5. Fork lift truck driving
Selection of drivers
Approved code of practice
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6. Health risks
Upper limb disorders
Frost bite
7. Handling/use of corrosive and acidic materials
General cleaning
Cooker/smoker cleaning
Personal protective equipment
8. Emergency rescue/evacuation
Ammonia leakage
Use of breathing apparatus
Emergency first aid
9. Electrical safety
Danger from wet environment
Maintenance work
Use of high voltage equipment
Fault finding on equipment
This list is not exhaustive and employers need to consider their
own needs carefully.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992
Training in health and safety on recruitment on being exposed to
new risks, new work equipment, systems etc; training of the
required competent person, and persons required to be competent
to implement procedures for dealing with serious dangers
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
Training in risks PPE will avoid, use of PPE, maintenance of PPE.
Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
Training in use of workstations
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992
Training in use of equipment
Training of supervisors
Training for maintenance
Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
Training on manual handling risks and prevention
Noise at Work Regulations 1989
Training on risk, steps to minimise risk, obtaining ear protectors,
employee obligations
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
Training in risks and precautions
Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Training to ensure competence to prevent danger
Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
Appropriate first aid training
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN3
Risk Assessment in Meat Processing
This guidance note is intended to assist in assessing risks as
required by the Management of Health and Safety at work
Regulations 1999. It lists common hazards related to the meat
industry and identifies priority risks for attention.
Apart from being a legal requirement of the Management
regulations, the purpose of a risk assessment is to identify what
has to be done to make work safe. It means no more than:
• Identifying what may harm people at work. (hazards)
• Estimating the chance of harm occurring, who may be affected
and how much (risk).
• Gauging whether existing precautions are adequate.
• Carrying out improvements where the existing precautions are
All risk needs to be considered, but trivial risks can be disregarded.
Only significant risks need to be recorded.
Based on the accident and ill health data known to the HSE and
drawing upon the collective experience of inspecting slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, a list of common hazards in
the meat industry has been compiled and is attached as an
appendix to this guidance. The list is not exhaustive and will need
to be adapted to suit individual circumstances.
As far as is practicable assessments should cover all aspects of
work and should reflect what does happen rather than what
The assessment must cover all groups of employees from
management and should also include visitors and the public if
they have access.
It is important to distinguish between hazard and risk. Risk means
the chances of a hazard actually causing harm. For example, a
head-dropping guillotine can be extremely hazardous, but carry
no risk if being operated by a robot in a sealed area. On the other
hand if it is being operated manually in such a position that other
workers have to pass nearby it would represent an unacceptably
high risk. The assessor must consider:
The likelihood of an accident or ill health occurring.
The seriousness of any injury or ill health caused.
The number of people exposed.
Special risk such as that to pregnant women or disabled
Once the assessments have been carried out it is important to
ensure that they are updated as the tasks change or are modified.
Health and safety law, hygiene requirements and special local
conditions will all influence the final outcome. Trade associations
and the local HSE will give advice. Appendix 2 lists relevant
guidance material.
Where risk assessments highlight shortcomings then action
should be planned and initiated to remove or control the risk. A
system of checks or audits should be used to ensure continuing
control. There should be robust systems to ensure that new and
modified tasks are assessed before being put into operation.
Employers have a legal duty to consult with staff and safety
representatives when developing risk assessments and control
measures. This is vital to ensure that all important risks are
identified and that control measures are practicable. In addition
feedback from staff and safety representatives is an effective way
of continually monitoring the effectiveness of the controls.
Trained persons, who are familiar with the operation being
assessed, should carry out the assessment. The "competent
person" required by the regulations should be able to assist.
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Prioritising risks
The main causes of fatal accidents are well known. Transport
accidents are a major cause and special attention must be given
to safe systems for workplace transport. Vehicle movements,
including forklift truck operations, should have special attention.
Other major risks are falls from height and serious knife wounds.
Accident and ill health records can give guidance to "hotspots" in
the business.
Common accidents in meat processing
(Guidance Note 1 has more detailed information on accident
Major injuries are generally caused by:
Slips, trips and falls.
Machinery such as derinders and bandsaws.
Struck by objects such as knives and meat hooks.
Falls from height.
Less serious injuries that result in 3 or more days off work
Slips, trips and falls.
Machinery (often conveyors).
Hand and upper arm knife injuries.
Manual handling.
Health risks
Ill health in the meat processing industries follows a pattern
directly connected with the work activity and includes: upper limb
disorders and back pain (boners and poultry workers); hearing
damage from noise (carcass splitting saws, frozen meat choppers,
bowl choppers and lairages); occupational dermatitis (caused
often by the high hygiene standards requiring frequent washing
of hands) and infections from animals and poultry.
The meat processing industry ranks quite high in terms of
accidents and ill-health. Good quality risk assessments and
planned control action can substantially reduce accidents and ill
health, leading to a safer, more efficient workplace.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Records and reviews
Companies with 5 or more employees must record the significant
findings of the risk assessments and make them available to the
employees. There is no need for this to become an all-consuming
task. Many risk assessments can cover a large number of tasks,
particularly where the tasks are the same. (For example, where a
production line has many people doing the same job, one risk
assessment will cover them all) Equally where a task comes up
very rarely it is often easier to write the risk assessment just prior
to starting the task. This is particularly useful for engineering
departments and saves writing hundreds of risk assessments "just
in case". It is important to review risk assessments on a regular
basis but the level of risk and the type of task will dictate the
frequency. Long term tasks with very low risk may well only
require review once every 5 years, but a high risk task with
frequent changes such as a band saw operation might require
review every 3 months.
Struck by Objects
Cuts and stabbings from knives
Goring, kicking, crushing by animals
Collision with moving carcasses
Captive bolt pistol
Slips, Trips and Falls
Broken uneven floors
Wet slippery floors
Unsuitable footwear
Smooth floors
Slippery stairs
Stairs in poor condition, badly lit or with no handrails
Outside yards (rain, ice)
Uncovered drainage channels
Manual Handling
Quarters of meat
Boxes of meat, trays of meat
Pushing/pulling bins
Vehicle loading/unloading
Bowl chopper knives
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Hide strippers
Flaying devices
Dehairing machines
Pig singeing furnaces
Power hand tools
Packaging machinery
Bowl choppers
Pie and tart machines
Slicing machines
Falls/Falling Objects
Raised work platforms
High level cleaning
Roof repairs
Light bulb changes
Storage racks
Fork lift truck work platforms
Mezzanine storage areas
Falls from vehicles
Feed chutes in floors
Falling carcasses
Falling hooks
People climbing on equipment
Vehicle movement in yard
Vehicle deliveries
Delivery bays
Vehicle loading
Mechanical Handling
Fork lift trucks
Offal carriers
Conveyors (belt, screw)
Bin lifts
Goods lifts or hoists
Passenger lifts
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Use of hand tools
Poor design of work stations
Electric shock especially from equipment in wet environment,
pressure washers, electric stunners.
Animals in lairage
Pneumatic exhausts
Stunning guns
Machinery including bowl choppers, large mincers, large saws
Scalding tanks (steam injection)
Tray washers
Hazardous Substances
Carbon dioxide
Biological hazards including from animals and Legionella
Corrosive cleaners
Fire and Explosion
Fuel storage (LPG)
Gas fired ovens
Welding equipment
Bulk gas storage
Pressure cookers
Oxygen (controlled atmosphere packaging)
Debris in ovens
Flour silos
Polystyrene, polyurethane cored building panels
Temperature Extremes
Burns from hot surfaces
Work in cold environment (chills, freezers)
Entrapment in chills, freezers
Handling frozen products
Hot water
“Recipe for Safety” on the HSE website:
Five steps to risk assessment
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN4
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
(COSHH) Regulations
Regulations to control substances hazardous to health were first
introduced in October 1989. Since then the regulations have been
updated and new advice on compliance has been developed by
the Health and Safety Executive. This guidance note explains the
main principles involved in the COSHH Regulations and gives
advice on further sources of information.
COSHH applies to most substances in the workplace which are
known to be toxic, harmful or irritant. The exceptions are asbestos
and lead which have their own separate regulations. COSHH does
not apply to radioactivity or to fire and explosion hazards.
The range includes:
• chemicals or substances that are used in the workplace such
as cleaning chemicals or spices and seasoning products
• dust or fumes that are produced as by-products such as
cooking fumes
• biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses or fungal infections.
There are three main routes of exposure
Inhalation: Dust, fumes or aerosols in the air can easily be
breathed in. This can cause damage to the nose, upper respiratory
tract and lungs. It is also the most efficient way of absorbing
chemicals into the blood stream.
Skin Contact: Hazardous substances that come into contact with
the skin can damage the skin itself causing burns or dermatitis.
Some substances can trigger an allergic reaction. Others can be
absorbed through the skin to affect other organs in the body.
Ingestion: Lastly, people can swallow hazardous substances. In a
workplace setting this is usually less of a risk than inhalation or
skin contact. However, it can happen. For example, poor hygiene
practices could mean that workers hands are contaminated when
they take a meal break.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Generally the effects on health include:
Acute Effects: Immediate effects such as irritation, burns,
shortness of breath are called acute effects. They are often easy
to spot and the need to control the chemical that causes them
may be fairly obvious. For example, it is well known that Sodium
Hydroxide solution is caustic so the need to protect against
exposure when using it as cleaning product is clear.
Chronic Effects: Longer term damage, such as cancer or liver
damage are called chronic effects. It is also possible for an acute
problem such as dermatitis to develop into a chronic problem if
there is repeated exposure over a period of time. Chronic effects
may often be much more difficult to recognize.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
require employers to do a more detailed risk assessment on risks
to pregnant workers. Some substances may pose particular risks
to these women. For example, toxoplasmosis poses a particular
risk during pregnancy and can be contracted through accidental
ingestion when handling raw meat such as pork, lamb or venison.
Where women of child-bearing age are employed any substances
that pose a particular risk should be assessed and the woman
who may be at risk should be informed. The assessment should be
reviewed for any woman who does become pregnant.
For substances that are supplied for use in the workplace, the
supplier should provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
The MSDS should contain standard Risk Phrases that should help
to identify any chemicals that may be hazardous. It should also
provide information on safe storage, recommended use and safe
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A risk assessment should be done for any hazardous substances
in the workplace. Suppliers MSDSs are a good place to start for
substance that are used in manufacture or cleaning. Other sources
of advice about hazardous substances that may be present
include the HSE, trade associations and trade unions. The
assessment should identify the hazards, the groups of workers
who may be exposed and the prevention and control measures to
be used. Remember to include foreseeable abnormal situations
that may cause greater exposure – e.g. a spillage, a burst pipe or
occasions where normally enclosed machinery has to be broken
down for cleaning.
Under COSHH there is a hierarchy of control measures that should
be considered:
Organisational Controls Restricting access to areas where
hazardous materials are present reduces the number of workers
exposed to risk. Good housekeeping to clean up spills and make
sure that hazardous substances are properly stored can help.
Washing and changing facilities may be needed for some workers.
Workers exposed to the risk must be informed and should be
trained so that they can follow the control procedures.
Personal Protective Equipment As a last resort or as a temporary
measure – e.g. in emergency situations – workers may have to
use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE should be suitable
for the job in hand and should comply with the relevant
European standards.
Eliminating the Hazard Is there a safer substance that can be
used? Can the process be changed to prevent the production of
hazardous fumes or dust? Can a safer form of the substance be
used – e.g. if a powder produces a dust hazard, is there a
pelletised form which is less dusty or can a pre-mixed solution
be used to avoid the need for mixing?
For tight-fitting respirators (e.g. disposable masks, half masks and
full face masks) the initial selection should include a fit-test to
make sure that it is suitable for the wearer. The test must be
done by a competent person using the appropriate test equipment
and the test results should be recorded. Advice should be
available from the supplier. Workers who are required to wear
Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) should be trained in its
Enclosure Isolating the source from the majority of workers can
help. However some people may be exposed if there is a rupture
in containment or if maintenance work has to be done inside the
enclosed area.
As with any risk management system, there should be regular
monitoring and review to make sure that control measures are
Ventilation General ventilation that provides sufficient fresh air
may be suitable for low-grade hazards. For some substances local
exhaust ventilation (LEV) may be needed at the point where the
dust or fume is produced. LEV should be designed to remove dust
or fumes before they get into workplace air. The shape, size and
location of the intake and the design of ducting and pipework can
greatly affect the efficiency of the extraction. Dust or fumes
drawn into the extraction system must be disposed of safely.
Under COSHH there are specific duties to test LEV systems at
least once every 14 months and to regularly test RPE, other than
one-shift disposable masks. Frequency of testing of RPE will vary
and advice should be sought form suppliers. RPE that is rarely
used – e.g. emergency breathing apparatus – must also be
regularly checked and maintained in line with the supplier’s
Material Handling Dust or fumes are often produced when
workers have to handle substances – e.g. to load products into
a mixing vessel. Automation or mechanical aids can reduce the
need to pour from sacks, drums or kegs. This can reduce the risk
of dust, fumes or splashing and may also reduce manual
handling risks.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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For approximately 500 substances there are legal exposure limits.
At present there are two types:
Maximum Exposure Limits(MELs) have been set for 72
substances. The MEL should never be exceeded and exposure
should be reduced as low as reasonably practicable below the
MEL. In practice few of the substance normally encountered in
meat processing will have an MEL. One exception may be flour
dust (a significant cause of occupational asthma) for which an
MEL of 10 mg. per cubic metre of air averaged over 8 hours, with
a 15-minute short-term exposure limit of 30 mg. per cubic metre,
has been set. If flour is used at any stage of processing in the
factory then exposure to dust must be reduced to the lowest
reasonably practicable level below the MEL.
Occupational Exposure Standards (OESs) exist for just over 400
other substances. There is no legal duty to reduce exposure below
the OES, but, if an OES is being exceeded, the duty is to lower the
level to the OES as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Again few of the substances used in the meat industry have an
OES, but there may be some. Certain areas like QC laboratories
may use a range of solvents and other chemicals. Some cleaning
products may give of fumes that contain chemicals that have an
OES. There is an OES for Carbon Dioxide. Argon and Nitrogen do
not have OESs and are not directly harmful. However, they can act
as asphyxiants. In areas where gases of this type are used it may
be necessary to monitor oxygen levels.
There is a general OES for all inhalable dusts of 10mg. per cubic
metre over 8 hours or 4 mg. per cubic metre for dust that is fine
enough to be respirable (i.e. breathed deeper into the lungs).
However some dusty materials will have their own OES or MEL.
Because of scientific uncertainty about many OESs and confusion
over the two different types of exposure standard, the HSE is
proposing to simplify the system by reducing the number of
substances that have an exposure standard and using a simple
maximum exposure standard for all substances that require it.
The focus for compliance with COSHH is moving toward making
sure that the appropriate control measures are in place for any
hazardous substances whether or not it has an exposure limit.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
COSHH requires health surveillance to be used where there is
known exposure to a substance that causes a specific effect that
can be detected by valid techniques. Health surveillance could be
something as simple as training a supervisor to inspect the hands
of workers where there is a known risk of dermatitis, or it could
be something more sophisticated – e.g. lung function testing
where there is exposure to a substance that is known to cause
asthma. Where health surveillance is needed a health record
should be kept for each employee.
Monitoring of airborne exposure levels and health surveillance
are not alternatives to controlling exposure, but they do help to
monitor the effectiveness of the control measures that are used.
To help employers decide on the appropriate control measures for
chemicals they use, the HSE has developed a guidance approach
called COSHH Essentials. An electronic version can be accessed
free of charge on The
website gives instruction on how to work through the guidance
for the particular chemical or substance you are interested in and
allows you to print of records and details of control methods for
your risk assessment.
The starting point for COSHH Essentials is the MSDS from the
supplier. Health hazards should be identified by standard risk
phrases like “R21 Harmful in contact with the skin” or “R43 May
cause sensitisation by skin contact”. The guidance explains how to
use these risk phrases to allocate the substance to one of five
hazard groups. It then advises how to score the substance
depending on the quantity used and how dusty or volatile it is.
Finally, it refers the user to a set of guidance sheets with the
appropriate control measures depending on the score the
substance achieves. The guidance sheets cover common
manufacturing processes like sack emptying, mixing, etc.
Guidance 2006
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Infectious Risks There is a possibility of “zoonotic” infections
from the handling of animals. Possible hazards include bacteria
such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, viral infections such as
“Orf” from sheep, fungal infections such as ringworm and parasites such as toxoplasmosis. In practice serious infections are rare
among slaughterhouse workers and meat handlers. The standard
hygiene controls appear to be effective at controlling the risk.
However there may still be a risk so in some plants the risk will
have to be assessed and employees informed about it. The HSE
produces guidance on the common occupational zoonoses.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (4th Edition) , L5,
HSE Books - Contains the COSHH regulations 2002 and Approved
Codes of Practice and Guidance.
Cleaning and Disinfectant Materials Many cleaning materials
used in the industry are irritant and some are toxic. Problems can
be worse if certain types of material are mixed together. The HSE
publishes a useful information sheet on disinfectants.
Occupational Exposure Limits: Containing the list of Maximum
Exposure Limits and Occupational Exposure Standards, EH40,
HSE Books
(Electronic version on
Food Ingredients Although they are safe to eat some food
additives and ingredients can be hazardous when workers are
exposed in the workplace. Flour dust is the second commonest
cause of occupational asthma in the UK. Other spices or
seasoning products can be irritant or can cause allergies. The
Seasoning and Spice Association provide advice on appropriate
exposure levels. E.g. ground black and white pepper, ground
chillies or ground mustard are irritants. The SSA recommends an
exposure limit of 3 mg. per cubic metre (as opposed to 10 mg. per
cubic metre for general nuisance dusts). Garlic powder, celery
powder and celery seeds are identified as potential sensitisers
(i.e. they may cause asthma) and exposure should be reduced as
low as is reasonably practicable – certainly well below the
nuisance dust exposure limit.
Selection, Use and Maintenance of Respiratory Protective
Equipment: A Practical Guide, HSG53, HSE Books
Advice is available from the Seasoning and Spices Association.
COSHH Essentials: Easy Steps to Control Chemicals, HSG193,
HSE Books (Electronic version on
Seven Steps to Substitution of Hazardous Substances, HSG110,
HSE Books
Fit testing of respiratory protective equipment facepieces, HSE
Information Document 282/28
(Electronic version on
Maintenance, Examination and Testing of Local Exhaust
Ventilation HSG54, HSE Books
An Introduction to Local Exhaust Ventilation HSG37, HSE Books
The Occupational Zoonoses, ISBN 0 11 886397 5, HSE Books
Controlling exposure to disinfectants used in food and drink
industries, HSE Food Information Sheet no. 29
(Electronic version on
Occupational Dermatitis in the Catering and Food Industries,
HSE Food Information Sheet No. 17
(Electronic version on
For advice on hazards from seasoning and spice ingredients
contact Seasoning and Spice Association
6 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5 JJ
Tel: 020 7836 2460 Fax: 020 7836 0580
HSE COSHH Web pages:
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN5
High Voltage Electrical Stimulation Systems (HVES)
This guidance note contains information and advice on
preventing injury from electric shock and burns during use,
maintenance and cleaning of High Voltage Electrical Stimulation
(HVES) systems.
Electrical stimulation of carcasses uses voltages typically in the
range 700 to 1100 volts AC or over for the prevention of cold
shortening of meat.
All existing systems have an exposed electrode that forms a
rubbing bar along which the moving carcasses brush for about
90 seconds as they are carried along by an overhead conveyor.
Current flowing from the electrode through the carcass to the
earthed conveyor causes tenderisation of the meat.
The voltage and power available from the electrodes create a risk
of electric shock and burns which may be fatal for anybody who
may come into contact with it. The wet environment that exists in
abattoirs will tend to increase the risk of injury. It is therefore
important that persons cannot be in or enter the hazardous area
of the stimulator while the electrodes are live. This can be
achieved by a combination of measures including enclosure of
the equipment; personnel detection and trip devices; earthing,
emergency stop controls and warning indicators supported by
instruction and information.
The HVES system must be installed within an enclosure
(see figure and photo) that prevents anybody touching
the live electrodes from outside and causes the system to shut
down if personnel attempt to enter the enclosure.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
To achieve this in practice the enclosure should have walls to
ceiling height or 2.5 metres high, whichever is the lowest and be
roofed to prevent access from above and to prevent water from
hoses or power washers making contact with the live conductors.
Walls and roofs should be solid. All exposed conductive parts
associated with the enclosure should be electrically bonded
together and connected to the main earth terminal of the
At the carcass exit and entry apertures there must be a barrier to
let staff know that they are near a hazardous area and to
dissuade them from entering. The barrier may be a ground level
barrier (e.g. a rail or a 450 sloping threshold) and the opening for
the carcass should be the minimum size necessary. There must
also be warning lights to indicate the status of the stimulator.
Guidance 2006
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To prevent the possibility of people touching the live rubbing bar
from the carcass entry and exit points, an adequate separation
between the bar and the entry/exit points must be provided.
There is also the possibility that carcasses being stimulated may
become bunched on the overhead rail. Carcasses other than the
one being stimulated may then be-come live and create a hazard.
Taking these factors together, a minimum distance of 2 metres or
3 successives, whichever is the greater, should be provided
between the personnel barriers and the live parts of the rubbing
bar. This distance may have to be increased for stimulation of
cattle carcasses. The installer of the system should assess this.
Where practicable, a separate and interlocked access door should
be provided for maintenance, cleaning, product recovery etc.
Opening of the door must immediately cause the HVES to be
switched off, and restarting must only be possible by means of a
start control located outside the hazardous area. Interlocking
devices such as a captive key, an interlocking switch with guard
locking, or dual positive and negative mode interlocking devices
would be suitable. Where practicable a window should be
provided to allow staff and visitors to see the stimulation
process without needing to enter the enclosure or stand where
they might block the entry and exit points.
If there is any risk of water jets hitting the rubbing bar through
the carcass entry and exit points, hoses should be relocated or
screens installed. Alternatively, water supply to hoses that could
reach into the HVES must be automatically turned off when the
HVES is in use.
The electrical supply to the installation should conform with
BS 7671:1992 Requirements for electrical installations and the
electrical parts of the stimulator itself should comply with
BSEN 601204-1 Safety of machinery - Electrical equipment of
machines Part 1 Specification for general requirements.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
If staff climb over or through the physical barriers at the carcass
entry and exit points their presence shall be automatically
detected and the HVES shut down immediately. This can be
achieved by installing an Active Opto-Electronic Protection
Device (AOPD) such as a light curtain. The preferred solution is to
locate the light curtain so that it scans the entire floor area of
the enclosure. This floor detection system does not rely on the
operator to decide if it is safe to switch on. Every time the unit
is switched on it will automatically check that the floor is clear
of personnel or fallen carcasses and will prevent start-up of the
stimulator if an obstruction is detected. This solution also
ensures that no one can be present inside the enclosure when
the system is operating.
Another possibility is to install the light curtains so that they scan
the floor horizontally inside the enclosure at the entry and exit
points for the carcasses. To ensure that staff cannot step over the
beams they should be at least 1200mm wide in the direction of
entry or exit. Moreover, the equipment must be installed such
that personnel cannot enter the stimulator by walking on the
AOPD transmitter and receiver units. However, this system has
the disadvantage that it leaves large areas of the floor unscanned
and relies on the operator to check that no one is in the enclosure
before the system is switched on. It is essential that whoever
starts the system has a clear view of the entire stimulation area to
ensure that no one is inside the area at start up. If there is a
blind spot in the stimulation area other means of checking must
be provided. CCTV might be used but this has not always been
reliable in a slaughterhouse environment.
Whatever system is used, the AOPD should comply with
the requirements of BS EN 61496 Safety of Machinery electrosensitive protective equipment. Part 1 General
requirements and Part 2 Particular requirements for equipment
using active opto-electronic protective devices, or to an equivalent
standard of performance. Guidance on the application of this
standard is published by the HSE in guidance note HSG180
Application of electrosensitive protective equipment using light
curtains and light beam devices to machinery. Systems that are
already in use and which use photoelectric safety systems to
BS 6491 and which have an installation standard derived from
HSE Guidance Note PM41 Application of photo-electric safety
systems to machinery will meet the required standard.
Guidance 2006
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The degree of risk on HVES systems and the importance of the
light curtains in achieving adequate risk reduction means that
Type 4 light curtains (as defined in BS EN 61496) should be used.
These have 2 output switching devices that provide for 2-channel
interfacing with the HVES control systems such that a single fault
will not lead to the loss of the safety function. All HVES
systems presently installed use electromechanical contactors as
the primary control elements. In accordance with the guidance
contained in HSG180, the contactors used as the primary control
elements should incorporate suitable means to monitor the
‘on/off’ positions of the main contacts configured in such a way
that a failure of a contactor will be detected. This can sometimes
be achieved by using auxiliary contacts on the same former as the
main power contacts.
The safety-related parts of the HVES control systems should not
rely on software, such as ladder logic in Programmable Logic
Controllers, for their operation.
If the HVES is tripped by the AOPD, the HVES should only be
capable of being restarted by a deliberate reset action. Reset
switches must be located outside the HVES enclosure.
The installation must be provided with means for ensuring positive
electrical isolation for maintenance work. The installation must
therefore have a power isolator or disconnector fitted and which
is capable of being locked in the off position.
An alternative system uses a captive key that is contained in a
remote control box adjacent to the personnel door. The key must
be used to open the personnel door and removing the key from
the control box automatically shuts down and isolates the HVES
system, providing a safe working environment.
It is highly advisable to enhance safety by providing facilities for
earthing the electrode during maintenance and cleaning work.
One manufacturer fits a lockable earthing bar that must be used
each time anyone has to enter the stimulation enclosure. This is
interlocked with the main control system to ensure that staff
cannot operate the HVES unit with the earthing bar still in place.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
All start and reset controls must be located outside the enclosure
in an easily accessible position with a clear view of the inside of
the stimulation area. An emergency stop control must be provided
at the control panel and at the carcass entry/exit points to allow
the HVES to be switched off in an emergency.
The control system should be protected from unauthorised use by
means of a key operated switch with the key held by a competent
person who has been trained in the operation of the stimulation
To avoid confusion, the main warning lights at the entry and exit
apertures should be very simple, green for “safe to enter” and red
for “do not enter”. A set of lights should be provided at every
possible personnel entry point.
It is very important that the interlocking devices are interfaced
with the control system to maintain the overall integrity of the
safety related sub-systems. The system should be designed and
commissioned by a qualified engineer. It is not acceptable to
allow persons who do not have sufficient knowledge of the system
to commission it.
The carcass conveyor must be interlocked with the stimulation
system to stop the conveyor in the event of any problems. For
cleaning purposes, however, the conveyor should be able to run
when the stimulation equipment is switched off.
Warning notices should be placed at all possible personnel entry
points warning of the dangers of electric shock and the policy
concerning entry to the stimulator.
A full instruction manual should be provided with the equipment.
This manual must include instructions on the safe installation,
operation and cleaning of the HVES.
All operators must be given training on safe operation and
cleaning of the HVES.
Guidance 2006
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Instructions on routine maintenance tests and examination of the
HVES, its guards and protective devices, must also be included.
Routine tests must include insulation resistance and earth
continuity tests, as well as proof tests of the safety systems
such as the AOPD and interlocking devices.
1 Supplying New Machinery - HSE leaflet, INDG 270
2 Buying New Machinery - HSE leaflet, INDG 271
3 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on the Provision
and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
L22 HSE Books 1998 ISBN 0-7176-1626-6
4 Application of electro-sensitive protective equipment using
light curtains and light beam devices to machinery
HSG180 ISBN 0-7176-1550-2
For further information please contact the Meat and Livestock
Commission or your Local Health and Safety Executive Office.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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In Revision
Health and Safety Guidance Note GN6
Safeguarding against Possible Exposure
to the BSE Agent in Cull Abattoirs
Due to the concerns that abattoir workers may be exposed to the
BSE agent during the cull of animals in the Over Thirty Month and
associated schemes HSE has prepared this reminder of the
required protective measures. The main risk is splashing of broken
skin or mucous membranes with materials containing the agent.
Action must be taken to avoid cuts and to ensure the wearing of
adequate Personal Protective Equipment. (PPE).
This checklist is intended to highlight the main precautionary
measures required to prevent and control possible exposure to the
BSE agent during the slaughtering and carcass handling processes
in abattoirs. Failure to comply with the advice given in this checklist is likely to be in breach of the Control of Substances
Hazardous to Health Regulations.
Abattoirs must NOT
1 *Pith
2 *Centre split carcasses
3 Use high pressure water jets 1
4 Allow employees to eat, drink or smoke in the workplace
Abattoirs MUST
5 *Use bungs to plug the captive bolt hole after stunning
6 Use PPE, appropriate to the task
(see BMMA Guidance Note 55 attached) which will include,
• impervious overalls and boots
• impervious gloves which cover hands and arms
• chain-mail or equivalent cut protection
• full face visors during back splitting and stunning
(a fixed guard may be substituted
• for a visor during stunning but such a guard must be
shown to be effective as there is evidence that neural
material from stunning may be ejected up to 2 meters)
Use protective clothing which is disposable, for preference, or
washable and stored separately after cleaning
Ensure that skips used for disposal of carcasses are in good
condition and do not leak
*These measures are required by the contract between the RPA
and the cull abattoirs.
Water pressure should be as low as practicable consistent with hygiene needs but not more than 500psi.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN7
Machinery Safety and Hygiene Standards
Machinery purchased after 1 January 1995 must comply with the
Machinery Directive 98/37/EC, enacted by The Supply of
Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992).
Compliance with the directive must be achieved by ensuring that
the “essential health and safety requirements” (EHSR) have been
met. The EHSRs are described in the directive but for an
increasing range of machines there are now specific standards
and compliance with these standards is considered to be
compliance with the directive.
These standards are harmonised across the EU and published in
the UK as BS ENs
The list below is a selection of standards covering the main
topics for the meat and bakery industry. BS EN documents can
be purchased from BSI. 389 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick,
London W4 4AL (tel 020 8996 9000)
Meat Machinery
BS EN 1974
Slicing machines
BS EN 12355
Derinders, skinning and membrane removal
BS EN 12267
Circular Saws
BS EN 12268
BS EN 12855
Rotating bowl cutters
BS EN 13871
Cube Cutting machines
BS EN 12331
BS EN 12463
Filling machines
BS EN 12984
Portable / hand operated machines
BS EN 13570
Mixers & Blenders
BS EN 13870
Chop Cutters
BS EN 13288
Bowl lifters
BS EN 13885
Clipping machines
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Bakery Machines
BS EN 453
BS EN 454
BS EN 1673
BS EN 1674
BS EN 12041
BS EN 12043
BS EN 13390
Dough mixers
Planetary mixers
Rotary rack ovens
Dough and pastry brakes
Intermediate provers
Pie and tart machines
Packaging Machinery
BS EN 415 Pt 1 Terminology and classification
Pt 2 Pre-formed rigid container machines
Pt 3 Form, fill and seal machines
Pt 4 Palletisers and depalletisers
Pt 5 Wrapping machines
BS EN 1672 Pt 2 Basic concepts, Hygiene requirements
BS EN 294
Safety distances to prevent danger zones being
reached by upper limbs.
BS EN 811
Safety distances to prevent danger zones being
reached by lower limbs.
BS EN 349
Minimum gaps to avoid crushing parts of the
human body.
BS EN 547 Pt 1 Principles for determining the dimensions
required for opening for the whole body
access into machinery.
Pt 2 Principles for determining the dimensions
required for access openings.
Pt 3 Human body measurements –
Anthropometric data.
BS EN 7250
Basic human body measurements for
technological design.
BS EN 999
Positioning of protective equipment in respect
of approach speeds of parts of the human body.
BS EN 1005 Pt1 Human physical performance –
Terms and definitions
Pt3 Recommended force limits for machine
BS EN 563/A1
Temperatures of touchable surfaces
(amended 1999)
Guidance 2006
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BS EN 292 Pt1 Basic terminology – general principles
for design.
Pt 2 Technical principles and specifications.
BS EN 953
General requirements for the design and
construction of fixed and movable guards
BS EN 982
Fluid power systems and their components
BS EN 983
Fluid power systems and their components
BS EN 60204 –1 Electrical equipment of machines (1997)
BS EN 60529
Degrees of protection provided by enclosures
(IP code)
BS EN 418
Emergency stop equipment, functional aspects.
Principals for design.
BS EN 574
Two-handed control devices.
BS EN 954 Pt1 Safety-related parts of control systems –
General principle.
BS EN 1037
Prevention of unexpected start-up.
BS EN 1088
Interlocking devices associated with guards.
Principal for design and selection.
BS EN 61496 Pt1 Electro-sensitive protective equipment –
general requirements and tests.
BS EN 981
System of auditory and visual danger and
information signals.
BS EN 61310 Pt1 Indication, marking and actuation.
Requirements for visual, auditory and
tactile signals.
Pt2 Requirements for marking.
Pt 3 Requirements for the location and operation
of actuators.
BS EN 3743 Pt1 Determination of sound power levels of noise
sources. Comparison method for hard-walled
test rooms.
Pt2 Methods for special reverberation test rooms.
BS EN 3744
Determination of sound power levels of noise
sources using sound pressure. Engineering
method in an essentially free field over a
reflecting plane.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
BS EN 3746
Determination of sound power levels of noise
sources using sound pressure. Survey method
using an enveloping measurement surface over
a reflecting plane.
BS EN 9614 Pt1 Determination of sound power levels of noise
sources using sound intensity. Measurement at
discrete points.
BS EN 11200
Noise emitted by machinery & equipment –
Guidelines for the use of basic standards for the
determination of emission sound pressure levels
at work station and at other specified positions.
BS EN 11201
Measurement of emission levels at a work
station and at other specified positions.
Engineering method in an essentially free field
over a reflecting plane.
BS EN 11202
Measurement of emission sound pressure levels
at work station and at other specified positions.
Survey method in situ.
BS EN 11203
Determination of emission sound pressure levels
at a work station and at other specified
positions from the sound power level.
BS EN 11204
Measurement of emission sound pressure levels.
Method requiring environmental corrections.
BS EN 11546 Pt1 Determination of sound insulation performance
of enclosures. Measurement under laboratory
conditions (for declaration purposes)
Pt2 Measurement in situ (for acceptance and
verification purposes)
BS EN 1050
Principles for risk assessment.
Fire Protection
BS EN 13478
Fire prevention and protection.
Battery Operated Trucks
BS EN 1175 Pt1 Electrical requirements. General requirements
for battery-powered trucks
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN8
Managing Manual Handling Risks in the Meat Industry
This guidance note summarises current health and safety
legislation applicable to manual handling risks. The information
is intended to outline issues relevant to the meat industry and
provide practical guidance on methods of reducing risk. It should
not be considered as an alternative to the requirements of the
legislation or a risk assessment.
Manual handling risks fall into the general category of
musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) which are problems
affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or other
soft tissue or joints.
1.2 million people in GB suffer from work related musculoskeletal
disorders (WRMSD). This accounts for approximately 60% of
reported ill health. 9.9 million working days are lost per year
and (based on 1995/96 prices) the cost to the economy is
c£523-556m. More than half result from back injuries.
The meat industry has traditionally needed to use the manual
skills of its employees in most of its processing tasks. Automation
and mechanisation have been progressively introduced but it can
be difficult or expensive to automate these tasks. Knife work,
packing, and picking, for example, have relied on manual dexterity
and in some situations, replacing operatives with machinery may
not be practicable.
Skilled workers tend to remain on certain jobs e.g. boning, often
for many years. This is challenging for employers to manage,
particularly where work patterns encourage employees to work
at a fast pace such as on piecework, at premises where workers
can finish early if they complete their set tasks or where bonus
schemes operate. These factors increase the risk of developing
musculo-skeletal disorders.
Larger businesses have more scope to reduce and control risks,
but smaller companies, like butchers, may not be able to afford
specialist handling equipment. However, by taking a fresh look
using risk assessment techniques, some of the risk factors can be
reduced or eliminated. For example, simply keeping floors free of
slip and trip hazards may significantly reduce the risk.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 States:
“Manual handling operations” means any transporting or
supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down,
pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily
force. A ‘load’ includes any person and any animal.
Table 1 outlines some of the more common manual handling
risks in the meat industry.
Opening & closing gates
& partitions
Closing vehicle ramps
Removing heads
Quartering saws
Pushing sides
Carrying quarters
Pushing & pulling animals
Reaching from platforms
Carrying hooks
& sides
Boxes & trays
Handling primals
Handling bones
Pushing tote bins
Lifting pallets
Moving pallet trucks
Moving equipment
Large components
Gas cylinders
Awkward access
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Section 2 requires
that employers provide systems of work that are safe, so far as is
reasonably practicable. The Manual Handling Operations
Regulations 1992 (as amended) require, so far as is reasonably
practicable, the avoidance of manual handling likley to cause
injury. Where manual handling cannot be avoided, employers
are required to:
1. Carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks
from manual handling.
2. Take appropriate steps to reduce risk of injury from
manual handling.
3. Provide information to people engaged in manual handling
about the weight and characteristics of the load.
4. Provide suitable and sufficient information, instruction,
training and supervision to enable employees to work safely.
Guidance 2006
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The guidance on the regulations provides guidelines for the
maximum weights that should be lifted or lowered by a person in
particular zones around the body. This varies significantly between
males and females, whether one or more people lift an object
together, the frequency of lifting, the nature of load itself and
the prevailing environmental conditions.
The regulations and associated guidance provide employers with
a systematic method of assessing which risk factors that may
apply during manual handling tasks. The assessment table
contained in the code of practice breaks the task of manual
handling into elements and asks what risk factors may be present.
It is essential for legal compliance to have a competent person
carry out risk assessments. Some simple assessments require a
basic competence, which can be gained from reading the
regulations and following the guidance. More complex risks
will require greater competence, for example; where young or
pregnant workers are involved or employees who may have an
existing health condition which limits their capacity for lifting
and handling.
The task itself will dictate what measures can be taken to
reduce manual handling risks. Some simple measures include:
tool balancers for heavy equipment; maintenance of wheels on
pallet trucks; cleaning and maintaining floors to provide good
grip; reducing the weight of loads and carrying distances;
reducing twisting and reaching; simple handling equipment e.g.
using a sack barrow instead of carrying sacks and brakes on
trolleys used on ramps.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended)
and guidance, HSE Books, L23, ISBN 071762823X
Moving food and drink: Manual handling solutions for the food
and drink industries. HSE Books HSG196 ISBN 0 7176 1731 9
Manual Handling Assessment Chart Tool (MAC), HSE website
The Health and Safety Executive has designed the MAC to help
inspectors assess the most common risk factors. The MAC is also
available to employers. The publication examines elements of
manual handling tasks involving; lifting, carrying and team
handling operations. Each element can then be assessed and risks
levels classified as Low, Medium, High and Very High using the
numerical and colour coded guides.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN9
Safe use of Knives
Hand knives cause a large number of accidents in the
meat industry.
The accidents usually involve cuts or stabs to the non-knife hand
and forearm but stabbing injuries to the body cause very serious
injury and there have been fatalities.
Most of the fatalities and serious injuries happen during deboning
operations. For this work meat is held down on the block or table
and moved with one hand, while the knife is gripped firmly in the
other hand, blade downward. The knife is extremely sharp and is
pulled through the meat towards the body. Accidents happen
when the knife slips or skids off the bone and stabs the operator.
Other work involving knives includes cutting, slicing, dicing,
skinning etc. The risk to the body is not as great during these
operations because the knife is pushed down towards the work
surface rather than drawn towards the body. However there is
still a risk of cuts and stabs particularly to the non-knife hand
and forearm.
Serious facial injuries including lost of sight have occurred when
knives have been used to handle meat and when the knife has
been kept in the hand while handling other items such as trays
or boxes.
Select the right knife for the task. Deboning knives normally have
a plastic handle that is designed to prevent fingers slipping onto
the blade.
For sticking or other operations mainly involving pushing
movements of the knife, the handle should have a suitable cross
guard. The knife should be comfortable to grip and it should have
raised portions at the junctions of the handle and the blade to
minimise the possibility of the knife hand sliding over the blade.
Knives should not be used when sharpening has reduced them to
thin narrow blades that can pass through protective aprons or
snap under pressure.
Steels should have handle guards large enough to prevent cuts.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Knife racks or other storage facilities should be provided, next to
the workstation. Scabbards should be provided if workers need to
move around the workplace with knives. The scabbards should be
divided into compartments and be easily dismantled for cleaning.
When not in use knives must never be left lying around.
Most injuries can be prevented if operators wear the right
protective clothing, in particular protective aprons and gloves.
Suitable protective aprons, usually chain mail or overlapping
metal discs, must be worn during all deboning work or during
other work where the knife is pulled with the point towards the
The apron should cover the body area from mid-breast bone to
mid-thigh. The weight should be borne by the wearer's shoulder
and not their neck. The apron should be fully adjustable with
shoulder straps and waist/hip belts so that it sits neatly against
the body. The bib should not sag when the wearer bends forward.
Aprons should be properly maintained. Loose or missing links or
discs should be replaced immediately and straps and fastenings
should be kept in good condition.
“Stab pads” made of Balata belting or similar materials are not
suitable as protection against stabbing injuries.
Aprons, trousers and vests should comply with the penetration
test set out in BS EN ISO 13998:2003, Protective ClothingAprons, trousers and vests protecting against cuts and stabs by
hand knives.
Apron and Leggings
An apron with the lower half divided to form knee length
leggings secured to each leg by straps should be worn by persons
in abattoirs engaged in “legging out” (skinning of the leg) which
involves holding the leg of the carcass between the thighs and
drawing the knife towards oneself along the carcass shin bone.
The danger is of stabbing, particularly in the thigh or abdomen.
Guidance 2006
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A suitable protective glove providing 3 or 5 digit protection,
usually chain mail or overlapping metal discs, should be worn
on the non-knife hand during deboning work.
Working areas must be clean and tidy. Working surfaces and
surrounding floor areas in particular should be free of debris and
production waste. Floors should be slip resistant.
Protective gloves are also recommended for other hand knife
operations particularly when an operator is inexperienced or
under training.
Lighting levels should be sufficient to ensure good visibility.
There should be enough space for each operator to work safely.
Working tables should be at the right height for the operator.
Chain mail gloves should comply with BS EN 1082-1:1997
Most of the fatalities and serious injuries occur during deboning
or similar operations. A serious stabbing injury can result in
heavy external bleeding, particularly if a main artery is
punctured. In a number of cases the victim has bled to death
in a few minutes. Prompt first aid action could save a life.
Forearm Protectors
Some gloves are designed to give wrist and forearm protection
but forearm protectors made of clear plastic and either attached
to or independent of the gloves can also be obtained.
Boots or shoes must be non-slip. A slip or fall whilst holding a
knife is potentially lethal. A dropped knife easily penetrates soft
All new employees must be given a thorough basic grounding in
the use, care and maintenance of knives and other equipment
including steels and scabbards. It is important to check whether a
person is right or left handed before commencing instruction.
All new employees must also be given a thorough grounding in
the dangers associated with misuse of knives.
The use and maintenance of protective aprons, gloves and
trousers should also be explained and attention should be drawn
to the employee's obligation to wear such protective equipment.
Instruction should be given either by the foreman or an
authorised training instructor. Whoever carries out the training
must be satisfied that the employee has understood and absorbed
all information supplied. The training should include grinding
and steeling to full proficiency. Newly trained staff must be
introduced gradually to full speed production. They must be
carefully supervised until sufficiently skilled to work with safety
at full production rates.
During deboning operations someone should be available who
knows how to deal with stabbing injuries and heavy bleeding.
The first thing to do is to immediately apply firm pressure to the
wound using a pad. Lay the victim down while continuing to
press the wound. Call for help.
Never use a blunt knife.
Know your own knife and how sharp it is.
Employ correct sharpening methods and learn the right way
to use a sharpening stone and steel.
Do not grind your knife blade until it is dangerously narrow.
Never use a steel that does not have a hand guard.
Always replace knives in the scabbards when not in use.
Never lay them down on a working surface where they
may be covered by other objects.
Always pick up a knife by the handle.
Keep the working area as tidy and as dry as possible.
Children (under the statutory school-leaving age) MUST NOT be
allowed to use, handle or clean knives
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Never wear soft shoes. Keep a pair of non-slip safety/stout
shoes for working. Slips and falls with a knife in the hand
are potentially lethal.
10. Direct the knife away from the body whenever possible.
Never cut towards your fingers, hand or an unprotected
part of the body.
11. Keep all knives, steels and scabbards clean and sterilise them
at the end of the working day.
12. Never carry a knife in the hand when away from the point of
work, unless the blade is covered.
13. Never try to catch a falling knife.
14. Make full use of protective clothing that is provided,
including gloves and aprons.
15. Get first-aid treatment for all cuts, however small.
Septic cuts and scratches can be dangerous.
16. Do not use knives to lift or move meat.
17. Do not have a knife in your hand if you are using your hands
for anything other than the cutting task.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN10
Bandsaws are used in the meat industry for portioning meat and
other products. They consist of an endless saw-blade running over
and driven by pulleys which presents a forward facing vertical
cutting edge against which product is pushed for cutting.
They are the cause of a disproportionately high number of
machine accidents, frequently resulting in deep cuts and finger
Contact with the blade during cutting or removing product is the
greatest hazard and the most common cause of accidents.
The first precaution is to make sure that a bandsaw is not used
where another machine or process will do.
Certain operations on bandsaws are unacceptably high risk and
should not be carried out. In general the cutting of fresh meat
that necessitates close approach of the fingers to the blade is
too hazardous but courts and tribunals have held the following
operations to be unacceptable:
(a) trimming of butt ends of lamb carcasses (that is, trimming
off the thick fatty ends of the breast);
(b) splitting of legs or shoulders of lamb (that is, cutting
across the leg or shoulder of lamb to produce the cuts
called a half-leg and half-shoulder)
(c) preparation of pork chops from loin of pork.
(d) cutting cooked chickens in half by hand feeding
If a bandsaw has to be used for other operations then users
should consider a conveyor feed to a totally enclosed blade or the
use of jigs to avoid hand approach to the blade.
When it has been decided that a bandsaw with an exposed blade
is the only practical way of doing the job then the risk must be
reduced as much as possible. These are some of the ways to
reduce the risk:
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
(a) make sure you have the right machine for the job with
enough power so that operators don't need to force product
against the blade too hard and with a table big enough to
support the product.
(b) only the minimum of blade, enough to make the cut, should
be exposed and the rest of the blade should be guarded.
(c) access to dangerous parts should be interlocked so that
opening any doors cuts off the power and the machine will
not start unless these are closed. A time lock prevents access
during run-down.
Using a bandsaw safely needs care and concentration. The
machine should be sited where the operator can have plenty
of space or the working area should be barriered off to prevent
people bumping into him. As well as keeping the floor clean the
use of slip resistant materials and shoes should be considered.
Good lighting is important and a value of 500 lux is
As operators may be at the bandsaws for long spells, the materials and workspace should be organised to make using the
machine as easy as possible. Particular care should be taken about
ensuring table heights are set to prevent backache as discomfort
can be a cause of accidents.
Only selected and trained people should use bandsaws and to
remind operators and others about the dangers, clear notices
should be displayed at the machine saying, for example,
Nothing should be worn which could become entangled in the
blade. Chain mail gloves must not be worn when a toothed blade
is being used but roughened rubber gloves may add grip when
handling some products.
Even when removing or fitting blades there is a risk of serious
cuts so care must be taken and protective gloves may be worn for
these tasks.
Guidance 2006
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The Tribunal decision of Gateway Foodmarkets Limited v Sheila
Patricia Walton, London Borough of Redbridge on 16,17,and 28
March 1988 clarified that hand feeding of bandsaws with fresh
meat in the preparation of chops presented unacceptably high
risks of injury and that such a practice had rightly been the subject of a Prohibition Notice issued under the Health and Safety at
Work etc. Act 1974. Bandsaws are inappropriate for the preparation of fresh meat chops where hand feeding is involved.
Where the quantities of fresh meat chops being produced is small
the traditional methods involving the use of knife and cleaver are
An alternative safe method where larger numbers of chops are to
be produced is the use of the proprietary chop-slicing machine.
These machines have high speed scimitar-shaped rotating blades
with access to the blade being protected by interlocked guard
tunnels at both ends.
BS EN 12268:2003
Food processing machinery-Bandsaw machines
Guidance Note PM33
Reducing bandsaw accidents in the food industry
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN11
Bowl Choppers
Bowl choppers are used extensively within the meat industry to
mince meat to a fine degree and to blend and emulsify proteins.
The machine comprises a rotating bowl into which meat, protein
and other ingredients are deposited, manually on small machines
or by means of a mechanised container tipper on large machines.
Ingredients are minced in the bowl by a multi-bladed revolving
knife positioned at the rear of the bowl and revolving in the vertical plane. Most machines have a selected range of knife speeds.
Manual removal of product is common on small machines but
large machines are usually fitted with an uploading scraper which
discharges the product from the bowl into a container via a
• Contact with moving and stationary blades.
• Electrical hazard from wet cleaning.
• Dusty product
• Injury by contact with moving container tippers.
• Noise.
1. The knife blades and associated drive shaft must be guarded
to the greatest practicable extent. As a minimum they
should be protected by a hood which extends to the width of
the machine and to at least half the bowl diameter. The
hood should be interlocked with the machine drive and fitted
with a suitable overrun device. In addition to the hood at the
rear of the machine, it is recommended that the following
additional safeguards are provided.
(a) A non-return flap should be fitted to the outfeed side of
the rear hood, so arranged that with no material in the
bowl, it falls by gravity to the vertical position and with
material in the bowl, it rides on top of material being
processed. Suitable stops should be fitted to ensure that
the flap cannot be raised upwards beyond the horizontal
Stops should also be fitted to prevent the flap being
pushed back towards the blades unless the flap is shaped
to a profile slightly larger than the internal surface of
the bowl, thus achieving the same result.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
(b) A suitable grid fixed to the discharge side of the hood
should be provided with bars running parallel to the
front of the hood and positioned far enough apart to
allow easy feeding of material into the bowl.
An identifiable isolator switch should be positioned adjacent
to the machine. The machine should be isolated using the
switch before cleaning commences.
During the cleaning of the machine a guard or cover should
be in position over the blades, except when they are being
Blades should only be removed or refitted by a competent
person using a blade guard or carrier.
The floor around the machine should be kept clean and clear
of other persons. On machines incorporating a container
tipper, the operator needs to see the motion of the tipper
to avoid danger to other persons in the area.
Potentially dusty ingredients should be pre-damped or
pre-mixed to ensure that dust is not evolved during the
adding of material to the machine. Where this is not
practicable, it may be necessary to provide local exhaust
ventilation to remove the dust.
Noise levels should be assessed in accordance with the Noise
at Work Regulations.
Since a high proportion of noise results from contact
between the blades and product, noise reduction hoods and
the use of lower speeds may achieve a significant reduction.
Worn shafts and bearings on older machines may be a
significant noise source. Badly balanced blades also cause
noise as does a lack of proper lubrication.
Where noise reduction cannot be achieved, segregation of
noisy machines may be necessary along with the use of
hearing protection.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN12
Brine Injectors
Brine injectors are used extensively within the meat industry to
inject brine evenly into meat, for example for curing.
Meat is transported to the injection position by means of a
conveyor belt, which forms an integral part of the machine.
Brine from a storage tank is pumped to the head of a machine
and then into the bank of needles. The brine is injected into the
meat via either a pneumatically or hydraulically operated vertical
needle beam. On some types of machine a pneumatically driven
meat stripper puts adjustable pressure on the meat during the
injection period to ensure that any meat which is held on the
needles when the needle beam starts its upwards stroke is
retained on the conveyor.
• Traps associated with the injector needles and the needle beam
• Possible dangers from electrical fittings while cleaning.
• Traps associated with the meat conveyor belt.
• Possible access to the drive mechanism.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. Fixed guards should be provided at the feed and discharge
ends of the conveyor to a distance of at least 1,000 mm from
the outside of the needle beam to prevent access to the traps
formed by the injector needles.
The side panels of the machine enclosing the drive
mechanism should be fixed by means requiring a tool other
than a screw driver for their removal.
It is recommended that an additional emergency stop button
should be positioned at the discharge side of the machine in
addition to the one provided normally at the feed side of the
machine. The emergency stop button should stop not only
electrically driven components but those driven by hydraulic
or pneumatic power.
An earth-leakage circuit breaker should be fitted to the
machine to ensure operator safety especially whilst the
cleaning operation is taking place.
Any traps between the conveyor belt and the tail and head
pulleys of the conveyor should be provided with suitable
fixed guards.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN13
Gas Flushing Systems
Gas flushing is incorporated into packaging machines to improve
product shelf life. Typical gases used are Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen,
Oxygen or a mixture of inert gases.
The gas flush is performed at the pre-final sealing stage and is
normally carried out at low pressure.
• Storage of gases.
• Gas leaks.
• Excess gas from chamber machines.
(The gas outside the package).
• Oxygen enrichment. Normal air contains 21% oxygen.
In concentrations higher than 21% substances are more readily
ignited burning faster and at higher temperatures. Oxygen
enrichment to around 25% should be considered dangerous.
• Inert gases and oxygen depletion. Leakage of inert gases can
deplete the room air of oxygen and create an asphyxiation risk.
Occupational exposure limits for some gases are contained in the
HSE publication EH40 entitled "Occupational Exposure Limits”.
1. Bulk storage of oxygen should comply with the British
Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) Code of Practice CP19
entitled "Bulk Liquid Oxygen Storage at User's Premises".
2. Bulk storage of liquid nitrogen and liquid inert gases should
be in accordance with guidance from HSE reproduced as
Appendix 1.
3. Bulk storage of Carbon Dioxide should be in accordance with
the HSE Note CS9 entitled, “Bulk storage and use of liquid
carbon dioxide: Hazards and procedures”.
4. All gas bottle storage should be in a well-ventilated area
preferably external to the building. A cage or similar
protection is required to prevent impact damage from
vehicles. All bottles should be made stable by the use of
secure anchorages. If it is not possible to site bottles outside,
good bottle management should be encouraged to ensure
that a minimum of filled bottles is inside the building.
Empty bottles should be removed as soon as possible.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
5. All pipework should be installed to BCGA COP 4. Wherever
possible the gas pipework should be of a continuous pipework
run and protected from external damage. Flexible pipework
should be kept to a minimum length so that it does not
become a trip hazard. Rupture or leakage of pipework can
give rise to an oxygen enrichment fire hazard and/or an inert
gas asphyxiation hazard.
Pressure gauges should be fitted at the gas source and local
to the packaging machine. The use of a "No Gas-No
Operation" detector is recommended.
All distribution pipework should be provided with a means of
isolation clearly marked and upstream of any flexible hose.
Reducing valves should be fitted at the gas source (bottles or
bulk) so that all piped gas lines within the building are at low
All gas lines should be colour coded with flow direction
6. The gas supply should be isolated at the main source during
any period of non-production.
7. A gas analyser should be made available for frequent periodic
checks on room atmosphere.
8. Local exhaust ventilation should be considered at the point of
use to avoid gas build-up, particularly if the operation is in a
confined space.
9. Only qualified persons should adjust or change the operation
of any gas flushing system.
10. Supervisory staff must ensure all operatives are aware of
hazards arising from gas flushing operations.
Guidance 2006
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1. Simple asphyxiant liquefied gas storage installations should,
whenever possible, be located in the open air and not in a
space immediately surrounded by structures, which may unduly
restrict natural ventilation. They should be kept well away
from cellars and other areas which may be occupied and in
which gas, which has leaked from the installation, may be
liable to accumulate. If the storage installation has to be
inside a building, it should be sited in a dedicated storeroom
which is normally unoccupied, is isolated and is separated from
any occupied parts of the building by means of a barrier that is
impervious to gas. At least one side of the storeroom should
be an outside wall.
4. The overpressure relief devices provided for the bulk liquefied
gas in the storage tank and any interspace over pressure relief
devices should generally be discharged to a safe place in the
open air as far from doors, windows or air intakes as is
If an indoor installation is necessary, the maximum possible
natural ventilation should be achieved by fitting a louvred
outside door and fitting louvres or steel mesh instead of
windows etc. In underground rooms mechanical ventilation
extracting at a low level in the room may also be necessary.
Any mechanical ventilation system should discharge to a safe
place in the open air. Basement or semi-basement locations
and occupied rooms are the least desirable locations. There
should be two separate exits to permit means of escape in
the event of a significant release of nitrogen or inert gas into
the storeroom.
7. Road tankers should be situated in the open air when
discharging liquefied nitrogen or liquefied inert gas. The
location should be such as not to restrict the dispersion of
liquefied gas or heavy vapour. If possible the road tanker
off-loading position should not be in a public thoroughfare.
In cases where this cannot be avoided, warning notices to
deter persons not concerned with the discharging operation
from approaching should be erected and adequate supervision
2. For indoor installation the storeroom outside door should be
secured in the fully open position during coupling and
uncoupling of transfer hoses and during transfer of liquefied
gas from road tanker to the bulk storage tank. The filling
connection should be sited near to the main door.
3. All vent pipes and any trycock from the bulk liquefied gas
storage tank should discharge to a safe place in the open air
as far from doors, windows and air intakes as is possible.
5. Transfer hoses and any sealing rings or gaskets associated with
transfer hoses should be maintained in good condition.
6. Adequate provision should be made to prevent unauthorised
access to any liquefied nitrogen or liquefied inert gas bulk
storage installation.
8. A suitable system of work should be implemented to ensure
that Dewar flasks are not overfilled. Any indoor decant lines
used to fill Dewar flasks should be of the minimum necessary
internal diameter for the flow rate required. Dewar flasks
should not be left unattended.
Local exhaust ventilation should be provided if the filling of
Dewar flasks directly from the bulk storage installation is
carried out indoors. The maximum rate of flow of liquefied
gas, which if spilled will subsequently vaporize to form a
large volume of gas, may be used as a guide for the required
capacity rating of the exhaust ventilation system.
A competent person should periodically inspect the gas storage
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN14
Dicers and Cubers
Dicing or cubing machines are used to size reduce fresh meat and
meat products into cubes.
When the cutting chamber door is opened by 20mm or a
discharge system (container or conveyor) is removed, the cutting
blades should stop in 0.15 seconds.
There are several types in two main categories. These are:
(1) Machines that push product through a lattice, forming strips
and cutting those strips into cubes with a rotating sickle
blade, and,
(2) Machines that cut product into strips then use a
multi-segment cutter head to produce cubes.
All types can have manual feed or semi-automatic or automatic
feed with conveyors or loading devices.
Hoppers should have some means of preventing access to the
danger points. These include interlocked grids, trip bars or light
barriers. On larger machines with hoppers over 1600mm there
should be a mirror to see into the hopper or a fill level indicator.
If danger points in the hopper can be reached from steps or
platforms these should be interlocked.
Discharge is normally into a container but may be onto a conveyor.
The ram should be set so that there is no gap between it and the
tunnel and the machine should not operate unless the tunnel is in
• Access to the rotating blades at the discharge end.
• Access to the hopper or feed chamber.
• Crushing by a ram extending beyond the end of the feed tunnel.
• Trapping between a loading device and the machine.
• Handling blades during cleaning and maintenance
There should be a gap of at least 120mm between the base of
the machine and the loading device. Descent of the device should
be controlled by a hold-to-run switch and should be no faster
than 0.4 metres per second (mps). If the descent is automatic it
should be at 0.1 mps and the last 0.5 metres should be controlled
by hold-to-run.
The discharge aperture should not exceed the dimensions
specified in BSEN 294 in relation to the distance from the blade.
Alternatively, the machine should discharge into a container
enclosure or on to a conveyor that prevents access to the blade
and is interlocked so that the machine will not operate without
these in position.
Gloves should be worn which can protect against knife cuts when
changing cutting tools or working near them.
BS EN 13871 Cubes cutting machinery
All non-fixed doors and covers giving access to dangerous parts
should be interlocked.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN15
Frozen Meat Cutter
This machine is used to break up frozen blocks of boneless meat.
This is done by an hydraulically operated guillotine blade or a
rotary cutter blade that cuts the product into slices about 50mm
thick in preparation for further mincing.
Product is loaded manually onto the machine before being pushed
to a sloping feed tunnel to be carried by gravity to the blade.
1. The guarding of the blade should be in accordance with the
safety distances in BS EN 294: so that the operator cannot
reach the blade. It should be impossible for a person to reach
the blade when standing in any position next to the machine,
and feed tables or loading devices should be incorporated
into the machine in such a manner as to achieve this.
The safety devices at the feed opening of this machine can
only ensure safety as long as an operator is standing at floor
level and close supervision is necessary to ensure that
elevated working platforms are not used.
The outlet cover should be fitted with an interlocked switch
of suitable design that fails to safety.
When the discharge for the machine discharges into a
collecting bin, either,
(a) the bin should be situated inside a suitably interlocked
enclosure which completely encases it; or,
(b) where the bin when in position prevents access to the
dangerous parts, a suitable sensing mechanism should be
provided to ensure that the machine can only be run
when the bin is in position.
When delivery is by conveyor, fixed or interlocked guards
should be provided between the discharge of the machine
and the conveyor to prevent access to the blade. Where the
conveyor is removable, it should be interlocked with the
machine in such a way that the machine cannot be run
unless the conveyor is in position.
The sliced meat falls into a container placed beneath a hinged
cover that protects the outlet. Options are available such as a
hydraulically operated feed platform, adjustments for size and
shape of meat to be cut and a totally enclosed cutlet container.
Access to the blade by the in-feed apparatus. This is possible
if the operator stands on a platform or the feed slope is not
protected by a loading table. Attempts to speed up the process
by pushing the meat block or efforts to free any blockage are
particularly dangerous.
Failure to interlock the hinged outlet cover would allow easy
access to the moving blade. In some models access to the blade is
possible from beneath the outlet cover either when a close fitting
wheeled container is not in position or small containers such as
trays are used.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN16
High Speed Slicing Machines
These slicers are used mainly for cooked meats. They have a
variable cutting speed and are adjustable for slice thickness.
The inclined blade is mounted eccentrically to provide the cutting
action. The sliced meat discharges onto a conveyor. The machines
can be gravity or power fed.
The blade itself should be completely encased, apart from the
openings necessary for feed and discharge, should be suitably
interlocked with the drive and be fitted with an overrun
device where necessary. Suitable arrangements should be
made for the collection of trim pieces of product and it
should not be possible to reach up any discharge chute to
the blade. Where the removal of a container for scraps
allows access to the blade it should be suitably interlocked
with the drive for the blade and fitted with suitable overrun
protection where necessary.
Cleaning of the machine should only be done by persons who
have been specifically trained in the hazards of the machine
and the routine followed for cleaning.
Undue vibration can occur if the blades are not kept properly
balanced and a routine to ensure proper maintenance and
balancing of the blades is essential.
The use of suitable anti-vibration and anti-slip floor
mountings is recommended in instances where the
machine is not secured to the floor.
Effort should be made to ensure that foreign bodies do not
come into contact with rotating blade.
• Access to the blade from either the feed or discharge side
or if the blade cover is opened.
• Handling the blade for cleaning or maintenance.
• Electrical hazards from wet cleaning.
1. Suitable guards should be provided to prevent access to the
blade from the feed chute area. Where a fixed tunnel guard
is used it should not be possible for a person standing at
floor level to reach down the tunnel guard to the blade.
Where a fixed tunnel guard is used however, it will be
necessary to ensure that no person can stand in an elevated
position where he may gain access to the blade. A suitable
routine should be established to ensure that the machine is
isolated before any cleaning is attempted.
Guarding the blade from the feed chute may also be done, by
means of interlocked guard which when in position prevents
any access to the blade. Opening on the interlocked guards
should only be possible either;
a) after the blade is stationary; or,
b) after a shutter has come into position over the blade
thereby preventing access during loading.
Any guarding provided at the feed chute should be so
arranged that adjustments can be carried out without altering the guard.
Trapping caused by the powered feeding device to feed the meat
into rotating blade.
On some machines there may be additional hazards from the
discharge mechanism to the conveyor.
A suitable tunnel should be provided at the discharge end
of the machine with openings that conform to the safety
distances in BS EN 294. Where the discharge conveyor forms
part of the guarding and can be removed for cleaning it
should be suitably interlocked with the movement of the
blade to ensure that the machine cannot be run unless the
discharge conveyor is in position.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN17
Mechanical tenderisers provide a quick means of breaking up
tough connective tissue and supply a product of uniform
tenderness prior to further processing.
When the discharge for the machine discharges into a
collecting bin either:
(a) the bin should be situated inside a suitable interlocked
enclosure; or
(b) where the bin when in position prevents access to the
dangerous parts a suitable sensing mechanism should be
provided to ensure that the machine can only be run
when the bin is in position.
Where the machine is fed by the conveyor or where the
delivery is affected by conveyor and the conveyor is
removable, the conveyor should be interlocked with the
machine in such a way that the machine cannot be run
unless the conveyor is in position.
Suitable fixed guards should be provided to protect the
intake between the conveyor belt and the head and tail
drums of the conveyor.
An earth leakage circuit breaker should be fitted to the
An emergency stop button should be provided and located at
the infeed point of the conveyor.
A safe system of work should be established and enforced for
the cleaning of this type of machine.
The machines consist essentially of sharp serrated discs mounted
on twin rotating shafts into which unfrozen meat is fed by means
of an endless belt conveyor. Discharge is normally into another
conveyor or into a suitable container.
1. The main hazard associated with the machine is contact with
the serrated tenderising discs.
Hazards associated with the infeed and outfeed belt conveyors.
Electrical hazards due to the wet environment in which these
machines are often used.
1. The guard over the serrated discs to protect the infeed at the
serrated discs should extend to a distance of 1000 mm along
the infeed conveyor. Any part of the guard which requires to
be removed for cleaning should be suitably interlocked.
The guarding provided at the outfeed end of the machine
will depend on whether or not the product is removed by
conveyor or fed into a collecting bin. If the product is
removed from the machine by conveyor the conveyor should
be guarded to a distance of 1,000 mm from the danger point.
Any part of the guard which is removable for cleaning should
be suitable interlocked.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN18
These machines, sometimes called “separators”, are really modified
mincers. By alterations and additions to the plates and discharge,
the meat is minced normally while the gristle is separated and
discharged through a central tube. They are fed by a hopper that
is filled from a hoist.
1. The height of the hopper should prevent access to the feed
worm. If this is not practical the access ladder to the
platform should be hinged and interlocked.
To prevent access through mincer plates, which have holes
over 10mm, a hinged portable interlocked hood may be
fitted. Due to the size of the hood required a lift-off one
would be too heavy. The front plate has access for the gristle
discharge tube to be inserted and screwed into place. When
lifted the hood is secured by means of a snap-on clip on the
front of the hopper. This allows free access for dismantling
and cleaning.
Hoists should be fitted with side guards and the carriage
with a positive lock arrangement for the container and a
safety chain. A hold-to-run control should be used for the
The feed worm may be removed by pushing a suitable
wheeled trolley against front of the machine, the worm
pulled out onto it for cleaning and replaced in a similar
• Access to feed worm from above.
• Access to knives through front plates.
• Hazards associated with hoists.
• Removal of feed worm.
• Hazards associated with cleaning and electrical equipment.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN19A
Pig Dressing Equipment
Scald Tanks
A scald tank is a tank, usually rectangular, filled with water at
60°C. The water is heated by steam, either directly or indirectly
via a coil.
Pigs are immersed in the water in order to soften the hair prior to
removal in the dehairer.
Here the pig is lowered into the water and it is propelled down
the tank towards the dehairer cradle by operators using poles.
Pigs are fed into the tank and pulled through, either by the
continuation of the bleed conveyor, or by the pigs being
de-shackled and pushed through by a conveyorised frame.
Automatic tanks tend to be considerably longer than the manual
type, in order to give the pigs sufficient dwell time (6 minutes).
Another type is quite deep and the pigs are carried into the water
by means of a rotary cradle device.
• Contact with steam piping.
• Splashing by the hot water.
• Steamy conditions.
• With rapid fall entry systems there is a danger of operators
being struck by carcass/shackle.
• Entanglement or contact with in-feed conveyors, de-shackling
devices etc.
• Trapping by the discharge cradle.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. Piping should be lagged.
2. In the case of direct heating, a steam control valve should be
used to reduce the amount of steam bubbling to the surface.
Special care is needed at the point where the pigs enter the
3. Area should have adequate ventilation and have a good
standard of lighting.
1. Only personnel involved in the operation should be in the
vicinity of the tank.
2. Floor should be easy draining and floor drains must be
kept clear.
3. Automatic lines should be enclosed
4. All drive mechanisms should be guarded.
5. An emergency stop switch should be positioned in the
automatic scald tank area at an operator position.
6. The scald tank conveyor, and the in-feed and discharge
mechanisms must be switched off and isolated, with the
isolator locked, before operators try to dislodge or retrieve
any carcass caught in the mechanism or any cleaning or
maintenance work is attempted.
7. On automatic lines, care must be taken at startup to ensure
all personnel are clear of the system.
8. On some machines the use of a propping device may be
necessary to support the discharge cradle before anyone
enters the tank.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN19B
Pig Dressing Equipment
The machine comprises a metal box containing one or more shafts
to which are attached beaters. These are pads in hard rubber or
similar material to which are attached curved hardened steel
The action of the rotating shafts and beaters removes the hair
from scalded pigs.
The entry and exit of pigs is usually by means of manual or automatic cradles.
• Contact with rotating beaters and loading cradle.
• Steamy conditions due to adjacent scald tank.
• Hair and debris on floor.
• Gap between cradle, tank and fixed frame of machine.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. Machine should have flaps or similar guards on the rotating
parts on the scald tank side and to prevent debris flying out
on discharge side.
2. Automatic lines should be enclosed
3. Floors should be cleaned regularly of hair and other debris
4. Floor should be easy draining and the drains kept clear.
5. Only personnel involved in dehairing operation to be in
vicinity of machine
6. Machine should only be loaded in accordance with
manufacturers specification.
7. An identifiable stop switch should be positioned adjacent to
the machine, preferably on the scald tank poling side.
8. Machine must be switched off, electrically isolated and
locked-off before operators attempt to dislodge any
carcase caught in the beaters and before any cleaning or
maintenance work is attempted
9. If the machine is of the type that requires the shafts to be
set wider to handle sows, the machine must be electrically
isolated when this is done.
10. The machine should electrically isolated when the gambrel
table is removed.
11. The beaters should be inspected on a regular basis to check
for cracks and loose or missing bolts/rivets.
12. There should be suitable guards in cradle movement area.
13. Scald tank poles must not be used to assist carcases into
or out of machine.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN19C
Pig Dressing Equipment
Gambrel Tables
A table constructed of stainless steel or galvanised mild steel and
situated at the discharge side of de-hairer and used for lifting
sinews on pig hind legs for insertion of gambrel.
• Carcase falling from table.
• Hair and debris on floor.
• Knife used by hocking operator.
• Trapping between gambrel and elevator.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. A retaining bar around the edge of the table, will prevent
carcases dropping onto floor or on to an operator’s foot.
This retaining bar needs to have a open section to enable
the hocking/gambrelling operation to be carried out.
2. Floors should be cleaned regularly of hair and other debris
3. The table should be easily drained and moveable to assist
cleaning of de-hairer and floor.
4. The table should be wide enough to prevent operator from
reaching into de-hairer.
5. There should be a knife holder for the hocking operator.
6. Any gambrel return device should be located so as to
minimise the risk of an operator being struck by gambrels.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN19D
Pig Dressing Equipment
Automatic/Hand Operated Singers
A vertical metal cylinder with a burner in the base, split vertically,
and lined with firebrick. It is used to harden the skin for bacon
production, to remove hair missed in de-hairer and to give the
skin colour and depth.
• Open flame and lighting of the burner
• Hot surfaces.
• Noise.
• Trap on automatic machines between closing halves
of the cylinder
• Steam.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. Barriers to keep personnel away from the flame.
2. A long torch to light the burner.
3. Burner fuel storage located separately.
4. Operators should ensure that water is turned on to cool the
rail when singer is operating.
5. Screening to cut down noise.
6. Regular inspection of the rail and supporting steelwork for
distortion etc. and a check that the water supply piping is
clear of any obstructions that may affect water flow.
7. In the case of a breakdown or a carcass falling, the singer
should be allowed to cool down before any work is done.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN19E
Pig Dressing Equipment
Black Scraper, Polisher and White (or Dry) Scraper
Carcasses from the singer enter each of these three machines in
turn. They remove marks or blemishes from the skin.
A black scraper has a water spray and moving metal scraper
blades that remove the scorch marks.
A polisher is a similar machine containing rotary brushes or nylon
claws that remove any hair or particles left on the pig carcase
after the black scraper.
1. The dangerous parts including drive mechanisms must be
properly guarded.
2. There should be an emergency stop in the scraper/polisher
area, at an operator position.
3. Machines must be switched off and isolated, with the
isolator locked before maintenance, lubrication, changing of
blades or brushes and cleaning of equipment.
4. Should a pig become dislodged from a gambrel, the machine
must be switched off and isolated before the carcass is
The white scraper blades remove particles of water and a thin
layer of skin from the carcass.
• The main danger is from entanglement or contact with drive
mechanisms, blades and brushes etc.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN19F
Pig Dressing Equipment
Hand held torch type Singers
Hand held gas torches used to remove carcass hair missed in
• The danger from this equipment is the open flame
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. Operator must be properly trained.
2. Use of a flint gun is recommended to light the torch.
3. A stand should be provided to support the torch when not in
use. Flame should be directed away from work point when
the torch is on the stand.
4. Fuel storage must be located separately.
5. The operator should have adequate room for this task.
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN20
Mincemasters and Lowboys
These machines are used to mince meat to a fine degree and to
blend and emulsify proteins.
Mincemasters comprise of a hopper mounted vertically above a
revolving knife assembly directly driven from a base motor.
Product is minced through a fixed cutting plate and ejected by an
impeller blade through a chute into a container.
Lowboys are in effect horizontally mounted mincemasters using a
worm to feed the knife assembly.
• Access through the feed opening to the worm feed on lowboys
and knife assembly on mincemasters.
• Access to the impeller blade on both mincemasters and
lowboys through the discharge opening.
• Ejection of product from mincemaster feed hopper.
• High noise levels, particularly when using frozen materials.
1. Access to the knife assembly via the feed opening in the
conical hopper should be restricted by a fixed plate.
2. Access through the feed chute should be restricted, for
example by a grid or bars, or the safety distance should
comply with BS EN 294.
3. Time delay interlocks should be used when removal of
parts like the hopper and the feed chute can give access
to dangerous areas during rundown.
4. A hinged flap should be provided to prevent ejection
of product.
1. An interlocked infeed grid should be fitted to prevent access
to the worm assembly
2. The knife assembly adjustment should give sufficient time
delay for over-run. The cutting chamber assembly should be
interlocked so that the machine cannot be operated unless
the machine is fully assembled.
1. Noise levels on these machines are high and a noise
assessment should be done and suitable measures taken to
reduce noise at source.
2. The fitting of rigid or flexible plastic enclosures including
tops can reduce levels by 10 – 15 dB (A)
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN21
Smokers and Cookers
These units typically consist of an enclosed chamber in which
meat or meat products are cooked and/or smoked. Door(s) to the
chamber can be at both front and rear. Heat can be introduced
either by steam, electricity or by a friction burn method.
Depending on the cooker size, product is carried on racks either as
single trays or multi-tiered trolleys.
1. Where fitted, the cold-water shower should be used to cool
the chamber before removing product. Otherwise suitable
personal protective equipment should be used.
2. The floor should have a grip face finish together with drains
to remove excess water.
Control of temperature, smoke, cooling showers (if fitted) and
time cycle is achieved either by individual controls or jointly with
a Programmable Logic Controller Unit (PLC).
• Burns from hot product racks or trolleys.
• Slips and falls whilst manoeuvring loaded trolleys into/out of
cookers over chamber floors coated with fat and water.
• Heat exposure
• Exposure to wood smoke, which contains carcinogens.
• Exposure (e.g. skin contact) to smoke condensate, which is
• Burns while tending the smoke generator.
• Fire (from smoke generator).
• Injury from premature turning on of steam, gas, electric
services or smoke generator whilst persons are present inside
the chamber (e.g. for maintenance or cleaning).
• Corrosive and/or toxic chemicals used for cleaning the cooker
smoker, the product racks or trolleys and smoke generators.
Door interlocks should;
• prevent doors opening during high temperature phases
of the cooking cycle when entry would be dangerous,
• prevent start of cooking or smoking cycles until doors
are closed,
• prevent doors being opened whilst smoke is present
within the chamber or close down smoke generation and
start extract fan purge to clear the smoke if the door is
opened before the smoking cycle is complete.
Chamber door seals should be checked regularly and
maintained in good condition.
Smoke generators should be maintained as directed by the
makers. Particular attention is needed to clear ash and keep
combustible material safe.
Hazardous substances (including cleaning chemicals and
smoke) must have a COSHH assessment.
Before undertaking maintenance work the cooker services must
be isolated and locked off. Special attention should be given to
retained heat on internal parts, steam valves, fans, baffles etc.
All safety systems, interlocks etc should be checked for operation
before the machine is returned to normal use.
A 'clean as you go' procedure is recommended to avoid build up
of debris on cooker racks etc. The cooker/smoker cabinet and the
product support racks should cleaned according to a schedule
that states the method, materials, water temperature and the
PPE to be used.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN22
Hopper Fed Sausage Fillers
Sausage fillers are widely used to fill both natural and artificial
casings with sausage meat.
Meat from a feed-hopper under a partial vacuum is fed by a
pump or through a worm/scroll to a nozzle where it is squeezed
into the casing.
Casings are fed onto the nozzle either manually or mechanically
through a forming attachment.
1. Access into the feed hopper, to the scraper mechanism and
to the feeding device in the bottom of the hopper should be
prevented when the machine is in operation.
Where machines are manually fed, then irrespective of their
size, a suitable hopper guard should be provided.
Where machines are mechanically fed, then unless the
safety distance as described in BS EN 294 can be achieved,
a suitable hopper guard should be provided. The distance
to the danger point should be measured from the highest
operating position. This might be the floor or a set of steps
etc. The danger point will be measured be the scraper
where one is fitted.
Even where the "safety distance" can be achieved it is
recommended that a suitable hopper guard be fitted unless
it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
Where the hopper can be tipped over, it should be interlocked
so that the machine cannot be operated with the hopper out
of position. If necessary a time delay device should be fitted
so that moving parts at the bottom of the hopper are
stationary before it is removed.
Where the hopper is driven in and out of position the
controls should be hold-to-run.
Hoppers should only be tipped when empty.
Where operators need to see into the hopper then a mirror
can be clamped on to the rim of the hopper so its contents
can be visually checked from the floor.
Large machines may be manually fed or by a hoist, tipper or
electric clamp truck.
The feed hopper on some machines can be tipped over for cleaning on release of a clamp. On large machines the hopper may be
swung in and out of position under power.
• Contact with the pump mechanism or worm/scroll feed in the
bottom of the hopper, either via the hopper when the machine
is in operation or when the hopper is tipped over for cleaning
• Contact with any scraper mechanism as it moves round over
the internal surface of the hopper.
• There is a possible trapping point between the hopper and
frame of the machine where the hopper moves under power.
• Most injuries at this class of machine occur at the end of the
production run or during cleaning when operators reach into
the hopper to push meat residue down onto the feeding
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN23
Hamburger (Patty) Forming and Extruding Machines
Although designs vary, the principle of these machines is the
moulding of minced or ground product into portions. A mould is
filled in one position and moved to another for the completed
product to be ejected. Material is fed via a feed tray or, more
commonly, into a hopper. This may be done manually or
mechanically using a hoist, tipper or electric clamp truck or
automatically via a conveyor. Scrapers or paddles may be fitted
inside the hopper to aid mixing and feeding. A feeding device in
the hopper takes the material to the forming station. The feeding
device may be a worm/scroll or piston (or set of pistons).
The product is pressed into a mould plate and from here a tool
known as a knock-out cup ejects it.
Machines may be categorised according to the way the mould
plate operates: Reciprocating machines. Here the mould plate (a plastic slide
with circular holes cut in it) emerges from the forming station
and at the end of its outward travel an injection plunger (the
knock out cup) pushes the formed shapes out of the slide, usually
onto a discharge conveyor.
Rotary machines. On these machines the mould plate is round
with a number of circular holes or forming pockets in it. As the
mould plate rotates a plunger ejects the shape and it is removed
by a conveyor as above or by a scraper, which can be manual or
Both machines may be fitted with a mechanism that places a
piece of paper between each formed portion.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
• Contact with the feeding device (whether pistons or scroll feed
etc) or with the scrapers and paddles in the hopper.
• On some machines access may be possible via the hopper or
the outfeed to the traps created by cams and blades etc at the
forming station.
• There are shear traps between the ejection plunger and the
mould plate.
• Shear traps between the mould plate and the frame of the
machine as the mould plate either rotates or reciprocates.
• Traps created by the moving parts at the paper interleaving
mechanism if fitted.
• Traps associated with scoring attachments sometimes fitted at
the outfeed.
• Contact with mechanical feeding devices and/or containers of
meat being lifted or lowered.
1. Access into the feed hopper, to the scraper/paddles or to the
feeding device should be prevented when the machine is in
operation. A suitable hopper guard should be provided. This
guard should normally be interlocked with the machine so
the machine cannot be operated until the guard is in position
and opening the guard stops the machine. The guard may be
a grid with suitably placed bars.
If the feed machine is fitted with a feed tray then a restrictor
plate similar to the ones found on mincing machines should
be fitted over the feed opening to prevent access to the
feeding device.
Guards (which normally form the body of the machine)
should be fitted to prevent access to the various trapping
points that exist at the forming station. Fixed and/or
interlocked guards may be used.
Suitable guards should be provided at the discharge to
prevent access to the forming station and to the traps
associate with the ejectors and paper interleafing mechanism
(if fitted).
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The guard at the discharge is removed frequently for cleaning
and clearing blockages etc; it should be interlocked with the
power supply
Suitable interlocked guards should be provided over the scoring attachments.
Extrusion machine. This is an attachment to a standard mincing
machine. Meat is extruded from the mincer to form a continuous
strip on top of a slip of paper. The strip is cut into portions by a
solenoid-operated guillotine.
With the exception of the outfeed mechanisms the hazards and
the precautions are broadly similar to those of patty formers. The
guillotine presents a different hazard and it should be covered
with a tunnel guard whose dimensions comply with the safety
distances of BS EN 294. As the cover is lifted frequently for
cleaning it should be interlocked with the power supply.
If it is necessary to push meat down onto the feeding device then
a suitable scraper should be used. This should be designed so that
the scraper cannot become entangled on the feeding device itself.
Where it is necessary to see into the hopper then a mirror should
be clamped to the rim of the hopper.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN24
Derinders, Skinning and Membrane Machines
These machines consist of a rotating toothed or serrated roller set
beneath a fixed blade. When product is fed into the machine the
roller grips the skin or membrane and leads the product to the
blade where meat is separated and the skin or membranes fed to
a waste chute.
Suitable rubber gloves, often with thickened rubber
fingertips, can be used. BS EN 12355:2003 advises the
use of such gloves if “manufacturer approved”.
The machine can be hand fed or conveyor fed. Only round or
irregular product such as hams can be processed on hand fed
machines. Where possible all other product must be processed on
conveyor fed machines with suitable tunnel guarding.
Chain mail gloves must not be worn. Serious accidents have
occurred when chain mail gloves were drawn in to the
mechanism causing such serious crushing injuries that
fingers had to be amputated.
Suitable training is very important. Operators must be fully
trained to understand the machine controls and the dangers
of the machines so that they know what to do in the event
of an emergency.
Only competent persons over the age of 18 should operate
the machines.
To protect third parties the machine should be sited where
the operator will not be distracted by those working in the
vicinity and so that access to the dangerous parts is
prevented as much as possible.
For most purposes on hand fed machines the gap between the
roller and the blade is kept very narrow. On membrane or skinning
machines this feed gap is normally non-adjustable and set at
<I mm. BS EN 12355 allows a maximum gap of 5mm but
normally a maximum gap of 3mm should be used for derinding
• The main hazard is on hand fed machines and these have been
a common cause of accidents. Usually, the hand is drawn onto
the blade by the roller and skin is lost from the fingertips and
fleshy parts of the hand or the wrist. Skin grafting is often
1. The correct machine should be chosen for the job. Hand fed
machines must not be used where product is suitable for
conveyor fed machines. Derinders should not be used where
skinning machines are more suitable as, for example, with
The blade must not be inserted upside down. Very severe
accidents have been caused in this way.
A low voltage shrouded foot pedal should be used as the
machine start/run control. A belly bar should only be used
as a stopping device.
10. On conveyor fed machines dimensions of guards should be to
BS EN 294.
• Machines are available fitted with electrical devices that
include the operator in an electrical circuit and which stop
the machine when the device detects a circuit change. The
operator is required to wear conductive gloves, which are
connected to the machine and rubber overgloves of the type
mentioned above. If the rubber gloves are damaged and the
conductive material or the operator’s skin completes a circuit
to earth, the machine will stop its motion and reverse for part
of the roller circumference. Such machines have been in
service for some years and appear to work satisfactorily.
BS EN 12355 Derinding machines
Blades and rollers must be kept in good condition as blunt
parts encourage operators to stab product on to the machine
increasing the risk of injury.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN25
Loin Pullers
Loin pullers are used to produce a high quality loin with the
required thickness of rind and fat removed. The two main types
of machine have either a fixed or a moving knife.
The loin is placed back down on the infeed side of the belt
conveyor. A driven ribbed roller pulls the loin into the machine
and a pneumatic hold-down clamp is triggered. The oscillating
cutting blade mounted just to the rear of the clamp cuts off the
required thickness of rind. The depth of cut can be adjusted
manually or, on some machines, automatically..
The machine comprises an adjustable height receiver bed, a
pneumatically operated hold down bar, and a pneumatic piston to
draw and return a shaped knife through the loin. A small steam
jet is used to heat and clean the blade to make cutting easier.
The loin is placed in the receiver bed rind down. The bed is
adjusted to the required height and the start valve button is
depressed starting a sequence of automatic operations. First the
hold-down bar clamps the loin, then the knife is drawn through
it. Next, the bed is released to drop the rind and loin onto the
discharge conveyor, and the machine returns to the start position
• Contact with the blade
• Trapping under the clamp
• Nip point between driven roller and the conveyor belt.
• Contact with the cutting knife.
• Trapping by hinged receiver bed and the hold down bar.
• Scalding by steam/hot water jet.
1. A fixed and/or interlocked guard should be provided to
prevent access to feed roller, clamp and blade. Tunnel guards
should comply with the safety distances in BS EN 294
1. Guarding should be provided to prevent dangerous access
to the knife blade and associated pneumatic equipment.
Opening of an interlocked guard should arrest the automatic
sequence and exhaust the air in the system.
2. Where the machine delivers onto a conveyor then a tunnel
guard should be provided and should comply with the safety
distances in BS EN 294
3. Where the machine discharges into a collecting bin this
should be interlocked such that its removal isolates and
exhausts the pneumatic supply.
4. The steam/hot water jet should be enclosed in a suitable
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN26
Cleaning Operations
Cleaning of workplaces, plant and machinery is of prime
importance in the meat trade for hygiene reasons. This note is
not intended to give guidance on hygiene standards but to
recommend the adoption of safe methods of achieving the
hygiene required by other legislation or codes of practice.
• During cleaning operations machinery may need to be
dismantled and guards removed. Serious injury can result
from uncovenanted movement or deliberate running of
machinery under these conditions.
• Machines incorporating heavy or sharp cutters present a handling risk to workers. Strains and falls as a result of incorrect
handling of heavy items of plant are significant hazards.
• Steam and hot water used in cleaning create burning and
scalding hazards. The source of steam may be direct injection
pipes used to heat tanks of water, mixer valves or portable
pressure washers. Hot water is handled via hoses or various
containers such as bins, mobile baths, buckets and tanks.
Serious burns may occur by contact with large quantities of
hot water because of dangerous systems of work or inadequate
protective clothing. A particular hazard is the use of incorrect
equipment such as plastic buckets, which soften and detach
from the handle at high temperature.
• There are dangers associated with electrical equipment in wet
conditions, particularly if hosed down at high pressure.
• Certain chemicals used in cleaning operations may be harmful
to health if incorrectly stored or used. Some chemicals become
more hazardous when mixed than when used separately.
• To carry out satisfactory cleaning of plant, access may be
needed to equipment or places not otherwise approached, for
example, high level pipes, overhead conveyors or very large
machines. Falls from height are a prime cause of fatal and
major injuries.
• Persons entering confined spaces may be affected by harmful
fumes/vapours or lack of oxygen.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
1. A responsible person should be in charge of all cleaning
operations. They must be adequately trained and have
sufficient knowledge and experience to enable them to
supervise and control a system of working. Complex
installations may need a written safe system of work
for cleaning.
Machinery dismantling and reassembly
Supervision should assess the requirements for the specific
cleaning operation to be done, identify the potential hazards
and the precautions necessary to avoid danger. Typical
precautions might include:
Machine isolation
If dismantling includes removal of guards, whether fixed in
place or interlocked, the machine should be electrically
isolated. It is not sufficient for the machine isolator to be
switched to the off position. Some form of positive isolation
should be provided, such as a facility on the isolator to enable
it to be padlocked. Such a facility allows the use of securing
hasps such as Islok or Scissorlok that enable several
maintenance personnel to use their own personal padlock.
Whilst any one padlock remains in position the isolator
cannot be moved to the on position. On smaller machines
the plug may be simply removed from the socket.
When cleaning is finished the person responsible for the
operation should check that the work has been completed
properly. All machine components, including guards should be
replaced and in full working order. The operation of guards,
interlocks, emergency stops and other controls should be
Handling machine components
Where heavy or unwieldy components are to be moved,
arrangements should be made for safe handling. This might
include providing lifting equipment for the operation or
ensuring that adequate manpower is available.
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Machines incorporating sharp cutters, e.g. slicers, should have
suitable devices for safe handling during dismantling and
cutter cleaning.
Persons required to handle heavy or unwieldy objects should
be trained in handling procedures including the use of lifting
equipment where appropriate. Safety footwear should be
provided and worn.
Safe means of access
Where practicable, permanent access and working platforms
should be provided. Platforms should have a sound surface
and be surrounded on open sides by a handrail, intermediate
rail and toeboard.
Where scaffolding is used as a temporary working platform or
means of access, it should be a sound structure. Guidance on
scaffolding is contained in the HSE Guidance Note GS15
General Access Scaffolds.
Drain covers, manhole covers and any similar covers in
floors should be replaced immediately after work has been
completed. If openings are left unattended, suitable barriers
are necessary to prevent persons tripping or falling.
Forklift trucks should only be used for access when fitted
with a suitable working platform and in accordance with a
safe system of work. Further advice is given in HSE Guidance
Note PM 28 - Working Platforms on Forklift Trucks.
Power operated mobile work platforms (extending
work/access platforms, power access platforms, aerial
work/access platforms or mobile work/access platforms are
other descriptions) may be used during cleaning operations.
Hazards associated with such equipment and the precautions
necessary are contained in the HSE booklet, HS(G)19.
Electrical Equipment
Precautions should be taken to prevent ingress of water to
electrical equipment. Employees using high-pressure jets
should be instructed and supervised to minimise the risks
both to the equipment and operators. It should be recognised
that even protected electrical equipment is unlikely to
withstand direct high pressure jetting and fogging.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Equipment used for the purpose, such as steam or water
pressure cleaners, should be constructed and maintained to a
high standard. Guidance on their use is given in HSE
Guidance Note PM 29 - Electrical Hazards from Steam/Water
Pressure Cleaners.
Chemical Safety
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
(COSHH) require an assessment of the risks to health posed
by any hazardous substances so control measures can be
selected applied and maintained to control those risks.
Management must obtain and keep information about
hazardous chemicals. This information should include details
about the potential hazards, the precautions to be taken, first
aid action and the proper method of use. These details are
available from the suppliers in a data sheet.
Any person who has to use harmful or toxic substances must
be made aware of the hazards and instructed/trained in the
appropriate precautions. Adequate supervision should be
provided to ensure that the correct procedures are being
Every chemical container must be clearly marked with its
contents and correct method of use. Dispensing from bulk
into other containers should only be permitted after the
container has been thoroughly cleaned and re-marked to
indicate the new contents. Old markings should be removed.
The use of food containers for this purpose should be
prohibited. In addition, chemicals should not be transferred
by pouring direct from the container but should be
transferred by the use of suitable dispensing equipment.
Mixtures of certain chemicals can produce toxic gases, which
may be dangerous to persons and liable to contaminate the
products. Violent chemical reactions may also occur. This
can be a particular problem if incompatible chemicals mix in
drains. Instructions for the proper use of the chemicals
should be specified and the procedures monitored by
Supplies of acids and alkalis should be physically separated.
Where large quantities are kept, it may be appropriate to
provide clearly marked separate storerooms.
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Concentrates should be kept well away from water supplies
and should be added to water not water to concentrate.
The recommended dilution rate should be observed, i.e.
solutions should not be prepared at increased strength.
Protective clothing should be provided to minimise the risk
of accidental splashing of the skin and eyes by cleaning
chemical. These chemicals may be acidic or alkaline, both of
which can be corrosive to skin and eyes or they may contain
bleaches or solvents having a harmful chemical action on
skin and eyes. Protective clothing supplied should be
impervious to the chemical being used and will normally
consist of apron, goggles and gloves in addition to overalls
and wellington boots.
Eye wash bottles/drenching facilities should be provided at
suitable locations.
Entry into confined spaces:
Serious accidents continue to occur whilst work is being done
in confined spaces. The chief risk is of toxic gases or fumes
inside the space to be entered. Typical spaces might include
cookers, boilers, tanks, pits, sewers etc. There are specific
regulations that must be complied with, the Confined Spaces
Regulations 1997 and there is an HSE guidance leaflet IND
(G) 258 aimed at employers and the self-employed who carry
out work in confined spaces. It explains, simply, what action
is necessary to meet the Regulations.
Use of steam and hot water
Employees working with steam or hot water should receive
training and information about the potential hazards.
Live steam should never be discharged from a hosepipe.
Steam mixer valves should display clear instructions about
correct use, e.g. always turn on water before steam. Controls
should be clearly marked.
Preference should be given to the installation of calorifiers to
heat water if steam is utilised.
Mobile tanks or baths should not be filled beyond a safe level
in order to prevent spilling and splashing.
Plastic buckets or containers not designed for carrying hot
water should never be used for this purpose.
Wherever possible, hot water should be dispensed from tanks
and vats by means of taps or valves. Never fill buckets from a
tank or other vessel if this involves lifting the bucket above
chest height.
The correct protective clothing should be provided and worn
when working with steam or hot water, namely long
wellington boots and a waterproof apron, which covers the
front of the body and overlaps the boots.
Hot water hoses should never be directed at other persons.
Areas being cleaned should be clear of all personnel before
swilling or hosing with water.
Water or steam hoses should not be directed at electrical
All taps, valves, connections and hoses should be maintained
in good repair.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN27
Workplace Transport
This Guidance Note is intended to cover both the general
requirements for safety in the use of workplace transport and
the requirements for the meat trades in regard to loading and
delivery operations. The information in this document can be
used in compiling risk assessments for transport activities.
Vehicle reversing
• Can reversing be eliminated or at least reduced, for
example by one-way systems?
• Do vehicles have adequate all round visibility? Are mirrors
or other visibility devices fitted?
• Is there need to mark 'reversing areas' so these are clear
to drivers and pedestrians?
• Is there a need for a signaller ( banksman ) to direct
reversing vehicles? Does the banksman have somewhere
safe to stand?
• Has the signaller been trained to keep the reversing area
clear of people and to make sure the reversing manoeuvre
is done in a safe manner. Do the signaller and driver both
understand what signals are to be used. The HSE gives
guidance on recommended signals in the leaflet Reversing
Vehicles, INDG148.
• Do the vehicles need to have reversing alarms fitted?
Falls from vehicles
• On Fork Lift Trucks (FLTs), are make-shift platforms (e.g.
pallets) used to raise workers on the forks? Deaths
regularly occur from this unsafe practice. It is a legal
requirement that only properly constructed cages are used
designed especially for lifting persons, and that operators
are competent and trained.
• On flat bed vehicles can loading/unloading/sheeting be
done without getting onto the vehicle? For example, by
using FLTs to put the load on and take it off the vehicle,
and using sheeting gantries.
• On flat bed vehicles where access onto the vehicle is
required, can this be achieved from loading bays to stop
injuries while ascending/descending?
• On all vehicles, are access to cab arrangements well
designed with suitable slip-resistant steps and handholds?
• On refrigerated vehicles, is access to controls and
instruments possible without ascending ladders?
All roads, manouevring areas and yards should be adequately
lit, with particular attention being given to areas near
junctions, buildings, plant, pedestrian areas and places where
there is regular movement of vehicles or mobile equipment.
Workplace transport-related accidents are the major cause of
deaths in the food industry and a significant cause of serious
injuries. In the meat industry, loading and unloading of vehicles
is the cause of many manual handling lost time accidents.
Being struck by vehicles, including forklift trucks, accounts for
almost 60% of transport-related injuries and half of these
accidents were during reversing.
Three main priority areas have been identified for action,
• pedestrian/vehicle separation
• vehicle reversing
• falls from vehicles
Pedestrian/vehicle separation
• Have safe traffic routes been planned - preferably with
one-way systems and, if needed, pedestrian crossing
• Are vehicles and pedestrians kept safely apart by, for
example, provision of safe pedestrian routes both outside
and, where possible, inside buildings?
• Do vehicles and pedestrians have separate doors into
buildings with suitable barriers where required?
• Are appropriate speed limits enforced and, where required,
speed bumps installed?
• Are adequate signs in place, e.g. indicating direction, speed
limit, no entry, etc., and mirrors fitted on blind corners?
• Are vehicles, including private cars, parked in designated
• Is access to loading yards restricted to essential personnel
and are they wearing high visibility clothing where
• Can deliveries etc. be planned to avoid unsuitable times
such as shift changeover?
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Vehicle design and maintenance
• The floor should be of slip resistant material where
• At the rear a substantial stepping bar and a good hand
grip should be provided
• Rail hooks must be free running and strong enough to
withstand spreading
• There should be safety catches on rail ends which prevents
a runner falling
• Lifting equipment should be examined in accordance with
the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
(LOLER) 1992.
• Part loads and other loads liable to fall must be properly
secured while the vehicle is moving
Loading Bays
Where possible the height of the loading bay and the floor of
the vehicle should be equal but where this is not the case
ramps or steps may be used.
Steps should;
• Be sufficiently strong and rigid
• Be at least 900mm wide (36”)
• Have slip resistant treads about 250mm deep with risers
about the same
• Be fitted with a handrail on the left-hand side
• Have a landing area at the top
• Be fixed securely when in use
Ramps should;
• Be slip resistant
• Have a maximum slope of 1 in 6
• Be fitted with a handrail on the left-hand side
• Be sufficiently strong and rigid
• Be fixed securely when in use
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Loading and Unloading
Accidents have been caused by premature departure of
vehicles from loading bays. Vehicle restraint systems or traffic lights can be effective at preventing this. Alternatively,
the person in charge of the loading/unloading can retain the
keys to the vehicle with the consignment paperwork.
Systems of Work
• Carcasses, quarters and primal cuts should be hung so
that bone or ligament tissue supports the weight.
• S hooks with sharp points should be avoided particularly
the smaller versions
• Boxed meat, offal or poultry should be bonded during
loading particularly at the rear door of vehicles.
• Vehicle doors should be opened carefully and used as
protection against badly stacked and displaced loads
• Good housekeeping is important. Grease, fats and uncut
box bands must be regularly removed.
Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
HSE Publications:
HSG 76
Health and Safety in Retail and Wholesale Warehouses
HSG 136. Workplace Transport Safety. A Guide for Employers.
Safety in Working with Lift Trucks
Reverse and safety signals for guidance of drivers Road Transport
Industry Training Board (RTITB)
The HSE website also gives advice on workplace transport
at the following sites:
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN28
Thermal Comfort
Workers in the meat trades may have to work in a variety of
thermal environments.
The rest of this Guidance refers to cold stores operating below
freezing, typically –12 to below -30 Celsius.
The main part of this guidance is concerned with work in cold
stores where the air temperature is well below zero. But there
can be health and welfare issues for workers in chilled areas from
+12 degrees down to just below zero. These are explained in the
HSE Food Industry Information Sheet ‘Workroom temperatures in
places where food is handled’.
Working in the cold conditions of Cold Stores is very different and
requires special attention to safety by operators, maintenance
engineers and management alike.
The ‘comfort zone’ for most workers is in the range of 13 degrees
C to 24 degrees C. Once temperatures start to rise above about
24 degrees it can start to get uncomfortably warm. Thermal
comfort in this temperature range is a complicated issue. It
relates to the individual worker’s perception of how hot or cold
they feel. This in turn can be influenced by a range of factors
such as air temperature, sources of radiant heat, air velocity,
humidity, the clothing the worker wears and how physically
strenuous the work is. The HSE gives some guidance on its
website on how to manage thermal comfort.
At temperatures above 27 to 30 degrees C, the issue of heat
stress becomes more important. Heat stress may also be a
problem at lower temperatures for heavy work, high humidity or
when workers have to wear certain types of protective equipment.
Heat stress occurs when the normal cooling mechanisms are
unavailable and the body’s core temperature starts to rise. Initial
symptoms include irritability, loss of concentration, excessive
sweating. In the extreme heat stroke can result in loss of
consciousness and even death. HSE has published a useful
information sheet for workplaces with cookers or ovens etc.
where heat stress can be an issue.
Operators should be healthy, a health check up before
commencing duties and annually thereafter is recommended.
The extremities of the body cool quickest and therefore fingers
and head (nose, chin, ears) are the first to suffer. Protective
clothing should at least ensure that the skin temperature does
not fall below + 12o C at any of these parts of the body.
Health/ Welfare
A recent literature review conducted by the Health and Safety
Laboratory concluded that there is insufficient information to say
whether repeated exposure to cold environments has long-term
effects on health. However there is evidence that some people
may be more susceptible to injury and that the physiological
and mental changes caused by exposure to cold may exacerbate
other risks.
People suffering from certain medical conditions may be unsuited
to work in cold stores. These include chronic respiratory disease,
asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and Raynaud’s syndrome.
Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature falls
below 35 Celsius. Early symptoms include shivering, slurred
speech and mental confusion. Victims may often be unaware of
what is happening to them. Without re-warming death will
result. Repeated brief interval exposures (such as workers
entering and exiting freezers) can have a cumulative chilling
effect. Although severe hypothermia is unlikely in a work setting,
early symptoms can cause discomfort and can contribute to
increased accident rates.
Other health problems can include frost nip, frost bite and
chilblains. Risks of frost bite are greater where frozen product
has to be handled without adequate protective clothing.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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The presence of ice and slippery surfaces, combined with
reduced manual dexterity because of bulky PPE and the mental
and physical effects of cold temperatures can lead to an
increased risk of accidents. Ice build up is likely to be most
serious at the entrance to the cold store, which is also likely
to be the busiest area.
Musculoskeletal Disorders
Difficulty with gripping loads or manoeuvring because of PPE and
reduced circulation of blood to the extremities can increase the
risk of musculoskeletal injury. Cold draughts are particularly linked
to shoulder and neck pain.
Being Locked In
Safe means of exit must be available at all times, even if the door
is locked from the outside. A ‘man down’ alarm controlled by a
low level cord switch positioned near an order picking station
gives a means of warning in the event of single operators
becoming incapacitated.
This is the most common type of accident, usually on ice that has
formed on the floor under the coolers. The defrost cycle must be
maintained to prevent ice build up on coolers or let water be
blown off during defrost. Drain lines should be heated throughout
their length to minimise ice accumulation.
Access to high level racking link to MHE
Never climb on racking or temporary steps without secure
fastening. Do not stand on a pallet that is elevated by a fork
truck – there are proprietary pieces of equipment to provide safe
access. If high level access is required close off aisles to create a
safe working area, free from other traffic.
Whilst it is not obvious, the air in Cold Stores is very dry. Wooden
pallets and cardboard stored for some time become tinder dry
and can quickly catch fire given a source of ignition. Maximum
diligence is required on the safety of electrical wiring and
equipment and of work involving heat is undertaken.
The site fire alarm system should alert people working inside the
cold store of emergencies occurring outside. This may require
sounders within the store.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
General light levels for access purposes are recommended as
120 – 150 lux and at least double this if order-picking operations
are required.
Emergency lights are important, sufficient number of battery
powered fittings should be positioned in working areas and by
exits to show escape routes in the event of power failure.
Ensure the batteries and equipment can operate at the room
This is particularly important as otherwise areas can become
dangerous with spillage and/or rubbish accumulating to be a
tripping hazard or entangling in truck wheels.
Fork Lift Trucks
Manufacturer’s or supplier’s advice should be sought to make
sure that trucks are suitable for work in cold temperatures.
Where possible, trucks with enclosed cabs are preferred as these
give protection to the operator without the need for PPE. It is
advisable for battery-powered trucks to be retained in the cold
store at all times. This reduces condensation and ice build up and
prolongs battery life.
While all refrigerants are contained within a sealed system,
leakage is possible for instance as a result of accidents with
forklift trucks or pallet handling, seal failures etc.
Given the wide range of refrigerants now used, including
ammonia, HCFC, HFC, hydrocarbons, liquid carbon dioxide, and
nitrogen it is not practical in this guide to examine each in
detail. Seek advice from your refrigeration engineers. Data is
also available in the Codes of Practice mentioned at the end
of this guidance paper.
In cases of leakage persons in the affected area should be
evacuated and the area ventilated. Remember cold refrigerant
gases sink to lower levels so areas below ground level, plant
rooms, basements, stairwells etc may pose extra risk.
However ambient temperature ammonia gas is lighter than air
and so will rise.
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Refrigeration Plant Rooms
Refrigeration plant rooms should be kept locked and secure
against unauthorised entry. They should not be used for storage.
The area should be well ventilated.
All equipment should be well maintained by competent
refrigeration engineer(s). Copies of the Electric Shock poster
and suitable fire precautions should be displayed.
Personal Protective Equipment
Protective clothing should protect the body core temperature
and also the extremities. The degree of protection will depend on
the temperature, “wind chill” caused by air movement and the
physical effort involved in the work. A British standard provides
advice on the appropriate level of PPE. The best protection is
offered by several layers of clothing (this also gives flexibility of
choice to workers). Clothing that becomes damp loses a lot of its
insulation value so inner layers that wick sweat away from the
skin are a good idea. Changing facilities that allow protective
clothing to dry after use are needed.
Conventional steel-toed safety footwear may not be suitable as it
provides little insulation for the feet.
Exposure periods
Measures to counteract the overall heat loss or peripheral cooling
in the hands and feet may include limiting the length of time
spent in the cold area. In temperatures below -25 Celsius,
protective clothing can never provide complete protection and it
is necessary to restrict the time of exposure and to allow time for
the workers to re-warm themselves. There are no hard and fast
rules but the table below is based on a German DIN standard.
Air temperature
exposure to
recovery period
as a percentage
recovery period
cold min.
of cold exposure
below – 5 0
to – 18
below – 18
to – 30
below – 30
Note Recommended recovery periods (column 4) has been rounded
off using the percentages in column 3.
Direct contact with cold surfaces can also cause damage. Contact
with metal at temperatures below -7 degrees C can cause burns
to the skin. Suitable insulated gloves or mitts are needed where
workers handle frozen products or come into contact with cold
According to the Cold Storage Association, the recommended
protective clothing for temperatures below -5 Celsius includes:
• Thermal undergarments
• Jacket and salopettes or all in one coverall
• Cold store gloves with thermal liners
• Safety boots with thermal socks
• Safety helmet with thermal liner, thermal balaclava and
thermal hood.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Workroom temperatures in places where food is handled.
HSE Food information sheet No. 3
HSE thermal comfort webpages
Heat stress in the workplace: what you need to know as an
employer. HSE general information sheet No.1
Health and Safety Laboratory Report No. PE0407
Health Effects of Working in Cold and Frozen Food
British Standard BS EN 378 parts 1- 4
Refrigeration Systems and heat pumps –
Safety and environmental requirements.
British Standard BS 7915:1998
Ergonomics of the thermal environment –
Guide to design and evaluation of working practices for
cold indoor working environments.
Codes of Practice for Refrigeration
The Institute of Refrigeration, Kelvin House, 76 Mill Lane,
Carshalton, Surrey, SM5 2JR publish a series covering most
DIN Standard 33403-5
Climate at workplaces and their environments.
Ergonomic design of cold workplaces January 1997
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN29
Mechanical De-Boning Machine System
• Knives must be sharp. Suitable sharpening equipment
must be provided and operatives must be trained unless a
sharpening service is provided.
• Adequate working space should be provided between
operators. (normally a minimum of one metre around the
• Scabbards should be worn by all operatives to hold knives
when not in use.
• Designated walkways and clearly visible danger signs
should be provided.
• All operatives must be trained in the safe use of knives.
Mechanical de-boning machines or liberators have largely
replaced table boning in beef boning plants in recent years.
This is because it has become more difficult to attract skilled
employees or people who are capable of attaining the necessary
skill. The mechanical system reduces both the skill level required
and the number of boners needed. A table-boning line might
typically have had twelve boners but a mechanical system will
need just three or four. Liberators also help with controlling
WRULD problems by reducing the manual force required on the
knife and by eliminating the need to lift quarter and primal cuts.
The machine system comprises a support cradle and bone saw, a
drop rail and two metal boxes, each containing a hydraulic ram
and fitted with suitable controlling devices. (e.g. on/off pulleys,
adjustable limit switches to control speed/air pressure and
emergency stop buttons.) These machines can be situated either
parallel or at a right angle to the rail system
Saw injuries:
• Eye protection must be worn.
• Operatives must be trained on the safe working procedure.
• Segregation/protection should be provided for third
Slip Injuries
Floor gratings should be in place at the work stations to
prevent build up of waste. If this is not possible with a built
up stand because of the need to change the working height
then the grating should be let into the floor. Gratings should
be of the light carbon type rather than metal which present
handling problems for cleaning staff. Any loose waste
around the area should be removed frequently during the
working shift.
Struck-by Injuries
All possible precautions should be taken to ensure that
quarters cannot leave the rail system. Points to pay particular
attention to are as follows;
The basic function of the machine system is to provide a systematic method of de-boning and to aid the de-boning process by
applying tension to leg-bone, hipbone and rib cage while cutting.
• Knife/Saw injuries.
• Slip injuries due to build up of meat, fat and bone-dust on
• Being struck by quarters falling from rails
• Being struck by quarters moving at speed on rails
• Noise from saw and machinery.
• Manual Handling and ergonomic issues e.g. muscular-skeletal
disorders, back injuries.
1. Knife Injuries:
Appropriate equipment should be used to protect against
cuts. A chain mail apron to cover the chest down to below
the knee, “shoulder length” chain mail glove on non-knife
hand or complete shoulder and arm chain mail garment and
cut resistant glove on knife hand.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
• At any point at which the quarter is hoisted from a low to
high rail or vice-versa, stops should be fitted to hold the
roller in place.
• Guardrails should be put in place at any curved part of the
rail where the roller may be more likely to leave the rail.
• Care should be taken when hooking the quarter through
the carpal tunnel on the fore and Achilles tendon on the
hind before it enters the system. If the tendon is weak or
damaged the operative should revert to hooking the
quarter securely under a bone.
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• Care should also be taken when transferring the boneless
quarter at the second machine. As before, if the tendon is
damaged the quarter should be broken down while
attached to the bone.
• If possible the pulling machines should be at a right angle
to the rail as to avoid the quarter speeding along the rail.
If this is not possible then an appropriate brake should be
fitted to control the speed of the quarter.
• Head protection must be worn.
• Where noise exposure is above the permitted thresholds
an assessment should be carried out and steps taken to
reduce exposure. However hand held saws cannot usually
be quietened sufficiently, in which case these stations
should be moved outside the main boning hall to reduce
the number of people at risk of exposure. The wearing of
hearing defenders should be the last step in the hierarchy
of control, although this will be necessary for saw
Manual Handling
• If there is a potential risk of injury a manual handling
assessment should be carried out to identify the risks and
measures needed to eliminate or reduce the risk. However
all handling tasks should be eliminated by flighted
conveyers on these systems to lift the meat onto the
main line.
Deboning machines have largely removed conditions
experienced by boners in the past such as tendonitis.
Problems that do occur now are usually caused by poor
working positions.
• Workstations should be equipped with a support cradle
designed to support the quarter at an angle so enabling
the operator to adopt a comfortable posture and limiting
the strain on the non-knife hand.
• The rail system should be at a median height of 2.2 m
adjustable up and down. This can reduce both working
with arms raised and stooping to work on lower parts of
the quarter.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
• Saws should be on a pulley, tensioned adequately so as to
pull the saw above head height when not in use. Saws
should be serviced regularly and blades changed when
• Job rotation should be considered as one of the means of
reducing risk.
• When installing the pulling machines, the following points
should be considered:
• Where possible, the first pulling machine should be positioned
at a right angle to the rail to avoid the risk of quarters moving
at speed along the rail.
• The machine should be fitted with adequate controlling
devices that the operative can adjust according to the type
and size of the beef being processed.
• The support arm, which holds the quarter in place whilst being
pulled, should have a height adjustment to suit the
varying height of the operatives.
• The workstation design should provide enough space for all
activities, while keeping the working points within convenient
• At the second preparation station there should be a drop rail
fitted to hold the quarter stationary and adjust the height of
the quarter whilst working on it.
• At the final breakdown station there should be a stop to hold
the quarter against while it is worked on. There should be a
feed belt positioned directly below the workstation to limit
both the lifting of the primals and the necessity for a
pulling hook.
Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 L23
Guidance on Regulations
Reducing Noise at Work L108
Guidance on the Noise at Work Regulations
Slips and Trips HS(G) 155
Guidance for employers on identifying hazards and
controlling risks
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN30
Insect Killers
mechanical guards or an interlocked access hatch.
These devices are ultra violet lamps that attract insects and
then kill them by contact with an electrical grid charged at
high voltage. Dead insects are caught in a tray, which has to
be periodically emptied.
The equipment should be manufactured from materials that
can withstand sustained exposure to ultra violet light.
Certain materials (e.g. PVC and rubber) may become brittle
and have
been known to cause fires in the fly tray.
• Electric shock
• Ultra violet radiation
Some models, and in particular those of the industrial
type which have no grid guard, must only be installed by
competent persons and placed out of reach to be safe by
1. Electrical
The equipment should comply with the Electrical
Equipment Safety Regulations 1994 and be made to
BS EN 60335-2-59:1995 Safety of household and similar
electrical appliances.
Contact with hazardous live parts of the grid is prevented
by ensuring that the grid is electrically isolated from other
or that the earth side is outermost or that the supply is
current limited.
The fly tray should be removable without exposure to live
internal parts. This should be achieved by means of fixed
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Danger notices should be fixed at each unit warning that the
equipment should be isolated prior to any work on it and the
device should be easy to isolate, by being plugged into a
fused socket for instance.
Provided the device is fitted with a lamp that produces
almost entirely UVA, the radiation hazard is negligible.
It is essential that replacement lamps of the correct type be
fitted. Lamps that produce UVB and UVC radiation cause skin
reddening and eye irritation.
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note GN31
Safe Methods for Preparation of Fresh Meat Chops
The Tribunal decision of Gateway Foodmarkets Limited v Sheila
Patricia Walton, London Borough of Redbridge on 16,17,and 28
March 1988 clarified that hand feeding of bandsaws with fresh
meat in the preparation of chops presented unacceptably high
risks of injury and that such a practice had rightly been the
subject of a Prohibition Notice issued under the Health and
Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Bandsaws are inappropriate for the
preparation of fresh meat chops where hand feeding is involved.
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Where the quantities of fresh meat chops being produced is small
the traditional methods involving the use of knife and cleaver are
An alternative safe method where larger numbers of chops are to
be produced is the use of the proprietary chop-slicing machine
Typical types are the Treif, Holac, and Varlet machines amongst
many similar. The machine comprises a high speed scimitarshaped rotating blade with both feed and delivery to the blade
being protected by interlocked guard tunnels which prevent
access whilst the blade is in motion.
Guidance 2006
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Health and Safety Guidance Note
Other useful publications and guidance
A reference list of relevant publications and guidance has been included in individual notes where relevant.
In addition the following publications may be helpful.
HSE Publications:
HSG 156
HSG 196
HSG 232
HSG 252
Slips and Trips: Guidance for the food processing industry
Moving food and drink. Manual handling case studies
Sound solutions for the food and drink industries
A Recipe for Safety
These publications are available from
HSE Books,
PO Box 1999,
Suffolk CO10 2WA.
Tel: 01787 881165
Food Information Sheets (FIS)
available on the HSE website
Workroom temperatures in places where food is handled
Slips and Trips
An index of H&S guidance for the food and drink industries
Priorities for H&S in the slaughtering industry
H&S priorities in the meat processing industry
Preventing slips and trips in the food and drink industries
Injuries and ill health caused by handling
Hygienic design for machinery in food and drink industries
Safeguarding flat belt conveyors
Safeguarding thermoform, fill and seal machines
Safeguarding palletisers and depalletisers
Controlling exposure to disinfectants
Preventing falls from height
Roll cages and wheeled racks
Health and Safety Guidance Notes for the Meat Industry
Guidance 2006
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Page 1
12 Cock Lane, London EC1A 9BU
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Email: [email protected]
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