The food and beverage industry has recently seen an increase in enforcement efforts by environmental and occupational health regulators, as a result of their exposures around activities related to pollutants and rising emphasis on workplace safety.
Industries—including retail, hospitality, and public entities—that have previously not been typical targets of Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) inspections, will now be subject to closer scrutiny. Whereas historically inspections in those sectors were conducted after an employee had filed a complaint, OSHA is now inspecting companies on a more proactive basis.
"There are a lot of safety risks in the food and beverage sector, ranging from ergonomic injuries to chemical exposures. Additionally, many of these businesses rely on workers for whom English is not their first language,” says Jeff Sizemore, a senior safety professional in Marsh Risk Consulting’s Workforce Strategies.
Earlier this year, a major retailer was ordered to pay the State of California $27.6 million as settlement for improperly storing, handling, and dumping hazardous waste throughout California. “Although examples like this stem from the operations of retail food and beverage manufacturers, other environmental issues also must be addressed throughout the lifecycle of the sector’s activities,” noted Chris Smy, Marsh Environmental Practice Leader.
“From the financing or construction of a facility, to its divestiture, overcoming environmental exposure can mean the difference between an organization’s transactions going forward or ceasing.”
A growing trend facing employers is cross-company OSHA inspections: if an employer is found to have safety violations in one location, the likelihood is that other locations will be inspected shortly thereafter.
Clients should review their safety programs, and establish consistent safety performance and compliance across all geographical locations.