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Color-coding benefits everyone from the company CEO to individual workers. Selling your organization on color-coding is as easy as learning what appeals to each position, and presenting the benefits. Whether you’re a plant safety officer or a salesperson at a distribution company, here’s what you need to know to gain organizational buy-in.
Plant owners carry the responsibility of running a safe processing facility on their shoulders. Color-coding can increase the safety of day-to-day operations, somewhat lessening that burden. In the event of charges being carried against a facility, owners/operators must provide a due diligence defense if their product causes illness or death. Color-coding is a proven, standard method to prevent cross-contamination and is widely accepted by standards organizations. BRC v.7 (2015) requires BRC registered companies to use either color-coding or tools that are “visually distinctive” in high-risk areas. Color-coding is a significant step towards being able to show auditors that a company is doing their part to minimize risk and promote food safety.
If color-coding is helpful in minimizing the chances of cross-contamination, it’s essential to minimizing the impact of a foreign body recall due to a piece of a tool breaking off and contaminating the product. If zoning is done by areas, or even shifts, the color of the chipped tool or plastic glove can pinpoint where (and possibly when) the contamination happened, which results in less product needing to be pulled off of shelves.
Color-coded tool stations can significantly reduce the amount of time that must be spent training each employee. Instead of a complicated system where certain tools are only left certain places, the stations are immediately obvious to even the newest employees. Food processing facilities typically see a high amount of turnover, making brevity in training time even more valuable. Simplify the entire process by having total color tools for different purposes.
Tool stations also promote a culture of responsibility since it’s easy to see if someone didn’t bother to put a tool back in the right place. Having a place for each tool, and having each tool be zoned keeps the factory running smoothly and safely. If a tool is missing, finding it is as simple as asking the shift workers it’s color-coded to. Retraining is also easier if it’s immediately apparent when an employee is using the wrong tool for a job.
Training represents time and money to company executives. To employees, it’s time they’re not working toward production goals. Most workers appreciate a streamlined process that doesn’t require them to remember which station they went to for a tool. Color-coded stations also mean brooms aren’t propped against walls and buckets aren’t sitting in random places, all waiting to trip an employee who’s not paying enough attention.
Investing in a fully color-coded system shows a commitment to food safety that won’t go unnoticed by employees. The shift of a company culture to one that deeply cares about the safety of its products will help employees feel good about their work, which, in turn, can make them better workers.
Getting organizational buy-in is a necessary part of adding color-coding to a company. Without it, the process may not be implemented correctly, if at all. However, once color-coding becomes part of the corporate culture, it can streamline operations and training, as well as reduce risk.
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