Relevant occupational health and safety risks in the Portuguese food processing industry

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Pedro D. Gaspar
Tânia Lima
Mariana Lourenço

Abstract

The Agrifood Industry is the largest Portuguese Industry, constituted mainly by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is noted that more than any other type of organization SMEs have their own speci?cities that make it particularly appropriate to develop tools to facilitate communication and knowledge sharing for employers and workers. To this extent, identifying critical success factors is the key to increase SMEs productivity. Likewise, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in SMEs have their own characteristics, which dif?cult the prevention strategies implementation and aggravate the problematic of work accidents. This study analyses a ?eldwork in 60 food processing companies in Portugal, related to the dairy, meat processing, bakery and horticultural subsectors. The analysis of the results allowed to identify that, at the national and regional level, the main failures are concerned with (1) lack of risk assessments regarding occupational noise, lighting, thermal environment and vibrations; (2) safety signaling, the circulation ways are not identi?ed with appropriate safety colors; (3) general lighting, with too many shade areas and finally (4) complementary presence of associated risks to falls at the same level, falling of objects, thermal burns, the use of machines and equipment, ?re, mechanical, ergonomic hazards and incorrect body postures. This study assesses the most relevant occupational health and safety risks in the Portuguese food processing industry to contribute to the improvement of OSH management and prevention of work accidents.

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