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Last updated: 09.06.17

Food businesses: The importance of following safety procedures

Following the correct health and safety procedures is crucial for food businesses, as accidents could result in hefty fines and very dangerous situations.

Businesses across the UK that deal with and handle food are required by law to follow health and safety procedures. Not only is this to protect employees from fatalities and other unsafe situations, but following the correct health and safety regulations also protects businesses from hefty fines.

Fines for poor hygiene can be damaging, but costly payments because of safety breaches that put workers in danger could potentially cause a business to go into liquidation. Changes in a business shouldn’t only occur when something hasn’t gone to plan, and all companies should make sure they are following the correct procedures so staff can work in a safe environment.


Employers running food businesses will be inspected regularly to ensure they are following the law. Inspectors will do this by taking a look at a business’s premises, working conditions, the food safety management system and the kinds of food made or prepared.

Usually, inspectors will visit a place of work on a routine inspection. However, they can visit without notice following a complaint. The number of visits the inspector pays a company also depends on the type of business and can be as often as every six months.

Food businesses that serve or supply food directly to the public may be covered by the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, where the company is rated based on hygiene standards. Often, restaurants, cafes and other eateries will put their food hygiene certificate on display for their customers to see.

Case study

This year a British food business pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act after an employee’s hand was crushed in a meat separating machine. Because of this breach of safety, the company will have to pay a fine of almost £380,000.

The 22-year-old was loading meat into the machine when he fell and his hand got caught in the machine, leaving his hand in a state that needed surgery and skin grafts.

Following the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the business to discover that they had failed to implement a safe system of work for separating meat using this machinery, and the equipment didn’t have the appropriate level of guarding.

HSE inspector Christopher Maher, commented: “This case highlights the dangers of failing to assess risk. All duty holders must ensure that all dangerous machinery has the appropriate level of guarding in place to avoid serious injury like in this case.”

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