The working environment in beverage facilities often is referred to as a safety and security item on the priority list. Rightly so, because in several areas of operations, security is directly related to safety. At this point in time, producers and distributors are becoming more acutely aware of this relationship and the required actions for environmentally safe and compliance adherence working conditions.

The starting point is a comprehensive review and analysis of existing beverage facilities, procedures, plans and philosophies that should provide a safe and secure arena for employee and equipment. 

First and foremost are two important management items that must be in place or established before goals can be defined and accomplished: attitude, which is critical to understanding the need for a safe environment and how security relates; and commitment, which is vital to supporting the attitudes of people, plans and the expense involved.

Without these two items thoroughly imbedded into a management team, no program will succeed. A working experience with a brewery proves the point: the plant won the most safest in their category (accidents, injuries, lost time) for 13 years in a row.   

Safety, from any viewpoint, begins with the facility and encompasses the machinery, people and materials that represent the dynamic movement in beverage operations in any venue.

In terms of facilities, existing structures present a challenge because codes and regulations usually change making an incumbent location either unsafe or not in compliance. From another view, planning a new or additional structure is an advantage where safety features can be designed (floors, aisles, lighting, ventilation, noise levels, space allocation) into the proposed facility and adhere to updated regulatory guidelines. 

For machinery, capability and configuration of beverage processing and packaging equipment can become less safe than originally intended; therefore, it is a constant vigil to ensure existing safety features are either upgraded or replaced as a safeguard during operations. As a caution, programmed shutdowns, in an emergency or malfunction might not activate, which accents two precautionary measures: properly maintained equipment is essential to safety, and personnel must be continually instructed on all machinery changes that could affect their safety.

Properly performing tasks moving through a facility or operating machinery makes people the highest priority item in safety programs. Lost time accidents normally involve people confrontation with machinery or handling equipment and could result in serious injury or even death. 

Training and educating people is one factor, as it never ends. The other is protecting people, as necessary, by providing them with appropriate gear — glasses, helmets, gloves, shoes, ear plugs, other special clothing — to safely perform their work.

Every operation in the beverage supply chain involves handling materials in some form or fashion.  However, handling materials within the plant is a source that must not only involve safe handling, but also assurance that materials are stored in a secure location accessible only by authorized personnel.  Avoid pilfering of materials with safety and security. Without secured storage, materials are not safe. 

All these precautionary actions must originate from the management attitude and commitment stated as the prerequisite for a successful safety program.