"A Recipe for Safety"

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Nabarro LLP, which joined CMS on 1 May 2017.

Summary and implications

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently developed and published new food safety guidance for the food and drink industry: "A Recipe for Safety".

The guidance covers the main health and safety hazards and gives practical advice on how to manage the associated risks. 'A Recipe for Safety' is a longstanding project which formed the Food and Drink Manufacturing Health and Safety Forum bringing together industry and experts to drive forward a range of important health and safety issues to further reduce the main causes of injury and occupational ill health. Forum members subscribe to the Common Strategy document which sets out the actions which each party will undertake to further progress the 'Recipe for Safety' initiative. Ultimately the value is seen as guidance written by the industry for the industry.

The HSE say that this means the content is even more relevant and accessible to all those subject to regulatory requirements in this area. John Boyle, Chair of the IOSH Food and Drink Group, said: “We welcome the release of this new version of 'A Recipe for Safety', which members of the Food and Drink Group Committee were highly involved in the drafting of. A lot of the new version was written by people who work in the industry and are faced with the types of hazards that 'A Recipe for Safety' highlights. What we now have is a very up-to-date and relevant guide that could help in the continued effort to drive down the accident rate in the industry”.

The initiative started in the early 1990s following the Health and Safety Commission’s concern that injury rates in the food and drink industries were too high. Since coming into play, the overall rate of reportable injuries has more than halved and so some successes can be reported, though there remains room for improvement given the recently published statistics. The injury rate in the food and drink industry remains higher than Britain’s average for the manufacturing sector, so the initiative continues to play an active role in improving health and safety in the workplace. This has now culminated in fresh guidance for industry where the main causes of occupational ill health in the food and drink industries are covered, including:

  • machinery;
  • workplace transport;
  • work at height; and
  • occupational disease.

What next?

Taking in the new guidance may involve some radical changes to working practices in the food and drink manufacturing industries. However, it should go some way to improve the rate of occupational ill health, injuries and fatalities in those industries. This point is particularly pertinent given the potential increase in fines for such breaches of food safety regulations, seen in the proposed new sentencing guidelines for such health and safety matters. We will be providing further updates when these come into force.