Food Processing Apparel
When it comes to the food processing industry, quality, efficiency, and reduction of contamination are the main safety priorities. The potential for contamination is a hazard that is mostly unique to the food processing industry, but workers also face the risk of cuts, punctures, and abrasions, cryogenic hazards, as well as flash fire. Food processing apparel must be specifically designed to reduce the potential for contamination while also protecting against every hazard food processing workers may face.
Contamination and Flash Fire Hazards
Preventing contamination is one of the top priorities in the food processing industry, and the driving force influencing its construction. There are unique design properties to implement to make the garment versatile for any task or job in a plant or facility, while also supporting a cleaner, safer, and more productive work area.
In addition to contamination hazards, food processing plant workers face the risk of flash fire due to combustible dust hazards. Energized equipment that is used throughout the plant for various processes and tasks along with common ingredients like flour, sugar, alfalfa, herbs, hops, and pulp can all contribute to combustible dust and flash fire hazards. Flame resistant and flash fire resistant apparel is important for food processing workers to have for protection against all of these potential hazards and issues.
Food processing lab coats have snap, hook, and loop closures rather than buttons that could come loose and contaminate food. The elimination of pockets especially below the waist is intentional so that workers cannot carry objects that may contaminate any food. Food processing apparel and coats must also be designed in a manner that eliminates any loose or hanging pieces which could be a contamination hazard or get caught in a machine.
In addition to contamination preventative designs, National Safety Apparel’s food processing coats are also flame resistant and UL certified to NFPA 2112 for flash fire to protect against burn injuries in the event combustible dust causes a flash fire in a plant.
Hairnets and beard nets also must be flame resistant so they don’t contribute to burn injuries.
Cut injuries are among the most prevalent and most important to avoid because of the risk of contaminating large batches of food. Cut injuries in the food processing industry can happen from slicing, cutting, chopping, as well as utilizing machinery to automate cutting, canning, and other packaging processes.
Additional mechanical hazards appear when machines are involved, in which case protective clothing needs to extend beyond just cut protection. When using these machines, food processing safety clothing should protect against cut hazards as well as punctures and abrasions that can be caused by these machines at a greater level.
National Safety Apparel’s CutGuard™ K5 line provides cut, puncture, and abrasion protection.
Cut-resistant gloves are just one piece of the protective clothing for food safety equation. Many processes and operations require food manufacturing workers to wear additional protection. Cut resistant sleeves, jackets, chaps, and aprons are protective clothing options that protect workers with full-body coverage.
K5 fabric and CutCuard™ options all meet varying levels of standards and test methods of cut, puncture, and abrasion protection.
ANSI 105 is the US standard used to evaluate the levels of cut protection in materials and fabrics and is mostly specific to gloves. Cut, puncture, and abrasion are the three separate test methods used to determine protection levels for each mechanical hazard with protection levels ranging from 1-9. ASTM F2992 tests for cut protection, ASTM D3884 tests for abrasion protection, and EN 388 is the European Standard used for the level of puncture protection.
Food manufacturing apparel that protects against all three cut related hazards is crucial especially when workers are in proximity to machines and equipment that are used for large scale processing and operations. Adhering to ANSI 105 as a guideline makes it easy for safety managers to select appropriate gloves and cut protective clothing.
Workers in food processing plants are often handling raw foods, in preparation for packaging or further processing. Many products that come into food processing plants are stored at cold temperatures using a variety of methods such as flash freezing, immersion freezing, and cryogenic freezing. Exposure to these storage methods presents thermal hazards such as burn injuries due to below freezing temperatures and the liquids and/or gasses used.
EN 511 is the European standard for protective gloves against cold temperatures. Convective cold, contact cold and water penetration are the three specific tests administered to ensure effective protection.
National Safety Apparel’s Cryogenic PPE gloves meet various levels of convective and contact cold and are available in water-resistant and waterproof options. For tasks in food processing plants that include the use of liquid gasses or immersion for freezing foods or materials, waterproof is the recommended safest option. When selecting cryogenic gloves, remember they should have a slightly larger fit for easy removal in the event that potentially harmful liquid fills up the inside of the glove.
You can find full cryogenic protection kits from National Safety Apparel including gloves, aprons, and face shields.
National Safety Apparel’s solutions for food processing apparel and personal protective equipment for workers include standards to reduce cross-contamination for food manufacturing processes as well as flame-resistant protection, cut, and cryogenic protection. Contact our customer service team for additional product information, see our Food Processing Garments brochure, or find out how to buy National Safety Apparel food processing products.