Kelly Rose

New guidance to protect workers in cold environments

COLD FEET could be a thing of the past for coldchain workers, thanks to pioneering work by the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF).

The trade association has developed new guidance on how to test the suitability of footwear used in the frozen food industry so that workers avoid injuries such as frostbite.

Until recently there has been no official guidance on testing cold insulative (C.I.) footwear below -17°c. Now, the BFFF recommendations have been assured by their primary authority partner, Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, meaning they have legal standing and a listing on the primary authority register. 

BFFF’s new methodology will allow industry members to test C.I. footwear and insulated sock combinations to check they are suitable for their cold store environment. In addition, the guidance provides considerations for completing or reviewing cold store risk assessments. 

Research began in 2019, after the BFFF was approached to investigate whether C.I. footwear was fit for purpose. In the frozen food industry cold store temperatures can be as low as -25°c to -40°c. 

Due to a lack of thorough research, employees have been exposed to these very low temperatures, without being provided with the correct assessed footwear. This has resulted in cases of potentially serious injuries, such as frostbite.

"Having first started this project four years ago, we are very pleased that it has now finally come to fruition,” said Simon Brentnall, Head of Health & Safety at The British Frozen Food Federation.

“Ensuring the safety of workers in the frozen food industry is paramount, and our research into the suitability of cold insulative footwear has resulted in critical new guidance which will ensure the protection of employees working in cold stores below -17°c. It's a crucial step towards ensuring the safety of industry workers and preventing future injuries” 

The request for BFFF’s involvement followed a successful civil claim case in which an individual working in a frozen cold store suffered serious frostbite. The legal team for the defending party in this case advised that the current testing method for C.I. footwear under the current EN ISO 20345 standard only tests footwear at -17°c. The tests therefore do not reflect the extreme cold temperatures adopted in the frozen food industry.

BFFF has been working closely with Arco (experts in safety and the UK's leading supplier of safety equipment) and SATRA (experts in the research and testing of footwear), as well as many of their members to produce an accurate, realistic testing method which reflects the industry cold store temperatures. 

To download a copy of the guidance, please click here

New guidance to protect workers in cold environments
New guidance to protect workers in cold environments
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