Contamination in the workplace can halt production, necessitate expensive product recalls, or require lab experiments to be started over. It is a very real concern, perhaps even a fear, that laboratories, food processing companies, and manufacturers are particularly aware of and have measures in place to minimize or prevent. In this post, we discuss what contamination is, how it can be spread, and what can be done to try to prevent it.
Contamination: what is it?
The definition of contamination is the act of contaminating, or of making something impure or unsuitable by contact with something unclean, poisonous, etc. One of the most publicly visible examples of the effects of contamination is widespread food borne illness leading to hospitalizations and deaths. Negative food safety headlines are the worst nightmare of food processing companies and restaurants. This issue is discussed further in our shoe covers in the food industry blog post.
How is it spread?
Contamination can be spread through a variety of ways, including through the air (think tiny infectious droplets spread by coughs and sneezes), water, food, touching unclean surfaces, etc. Workers who don’t correctly follow procedures can cause cross-contamination, thereby halting production, having to decontaminate or discard products, needing to clean equipment, and other effects that result in lost time and money.
What can your company do to be safe from contamination?
Companies reduce the risk of contamination/cross-contamination by developing, implementing, and enforcing proper processes and procedures (including disinfection and cleaning procedures), having necessary infrastructure and equipment, and the like. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is also an important consideration. By wearing shoe covers, hair nets, face masks, beard covers, and gloves, potential contaminants should be kept away from critical areas. The PPE will also help keep the work environment clean and sanitary.
Contamination is a very important matter, but you can lessen the likelihood of it occurring if you know what it is, how it spreads, and what can be done to minimize or prevent it entirely. Compliance with company processes and procedures is critical, as is having proper infrastructure and equipment, which may include shoe covers, disposable gloves, and sticky mats.