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Risk Assessment and Control



The operations involved in the production processes of a bread-making industry exposes workers to various hazardous substances such as dust from flour and other ingredients, disinfectants and cleaning products. This exposure is due to inhalation, absorption – through the skin or possibly ingestion, is a risk factor to the health of workers. 

In view of this, Bakery operators have the responsibility under Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (the Act) to provide and maintain a safe working environment in which employees are not exposed to hazards. 

This responsibility includes providing information, instruction, training and supervision so that workers are not exposed to hazard. It also includes addressing any health risks that could arise at the workplace. 


The main causes of injury to Bakery workers are;

  • Manual handling and lifting – especially lifting heavy and awkward objects.
  • Slips and trips mostly due to wet, oily or contaminated floors
  • Struck by an object (e.g. hand knife, plants etc)
  • Machinery such as conveyors, wraping machinery, pick and tart machines, dough brakes, molders, mixers, roll plant, pinning rolls, belts may cause physical injury. Thus staff must be trained before using new machines, retraining after long time none use is important.
  • Exposure to harmful substances and hot objects e.g. splashes/vapour from cleaning chemical, contact with hot equipment
  • Entry into silos – risk from engulfment, lack of respiratory atmosphere, mechanical hazards (e.g. sweeps augers).


The Main Occupational Health Risks include;

  • Musculoskeletal injury from manual handling of e.g. sacks, bags and product
  • Work – Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULDS) from repetitive work, e.g. tin loading, lading cake, decorating, parking operations
  • Noise induces hearing loss from noisy areas, e.g. depanning, bread slicing, dough mixing etc
  • Occupational asthma and respiratory irritation from exposure to flour dust 


  Product Contamination

Bakery products can become contaminated through contaminated raw materials received, poor hygiene standards within the processing operation area, e.g. unclean machines, unhygienic handling, pest infestation like rodents, insects etc. 

    Poor Storage Conditions

Poor storage condition can raised moisture levels thus, promoting insect infestation and microbial growth. Bakery should be designed to meet internationally recognized food safety standards. 

    Emissions of Air

Dust may arise from raw material storage, handling and drying activities. Aerosols typical result from the use of compressed air and high pressure water for cleaning. 

Workers may inhale or ingest the dust and aerosols exposing them to biological and microbial hazards presenting a risk of occupational lung disease or asthma. When combined with high levels of humidity dust and/or aerosols may give rise to skin irritation or allergic reactions. 

Ammonium carbonate used as a leavening agent in baking decomposes to emit ammonia on contact with air. It is toxic if inhaled at high concentration, some bakery additives/flour improvers contain enzymes that are occupational hazards to which workers may become allergic (sensitized). Exposure to them should be limited by using improvers in liquid, paste or dust suppressed powder form. 

The major air emissions of concern from bakeries are known as Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs). The primary VOC emitted from bakery operations is ethanol. It is produced by yeast metabolism during fermentation and is emitted in large amounts when the dough is exposed to elevated temperatures in the oven. It combines with other VOCs in the atmosphere to form smog thus, exacerbating the global phenomenon of green House effect. 

Bakery products emits several air pollutants during the baking process. Ethanol, a VOC, is a by-product formed from yeast fermenting and is an air pollutant. There should replace yeast with baking powder, when possible because baking powder does not produce VOCs and keeps oven and boilers in good operating condition to help prevent pollution. 

In addition, some commercial refrigerators contain Chlorofluorocarbons (cfcs) or ammonia as a refrigerant. Refrigerant leaks may have a negative effect on air quality. Thus proper maintenance culture is recommended 

  Manual Handling and Repetitive Work

Lifting, repetitive and posture injuries occur as a result of lifting heavy or carrying awkward shaped items such as sacks and packing operations can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. In a busy manufacturing environment, it is common to have incidence where people are struck by moving or falling object such as boxes, equipment, conveyors etc.


Employees may be exposed to high temperatures near ovens and may have to handle hot product. This could lead to collapse through heat exhaustion and contact burns. 

 Confined Spaces

Storage silos are dangerous confined spaces and entry to them must be strictly controlled and avoided wherever possible. There is risk from engulfment, lack of breathable atmosphere and mechanical; hazards (e.g. sweeps augers). 


Trucks delivering bulky raw materials may cause traffic congestion or excessive noise potentially leading to complaints. 

Fire Outbreak

Fire outbreaks can occur through explosion from inflammable substances stored within the facility. It can also occur in a bakery through accumulation of breads, crumbs, debris and remnants inside the oven mostly in swing tray type oven. Therefore bakery should train their staff on fire fighting techniques and install fire extinguishers at strategic locations in case of any emergency. 

Exposure to Radiation

The use of microwave oven may expose workers to microwave radiation. Training on its use and proper maintenance is therefore very important 


a.Occupational Asthma

It is a fact that bakers do suffer from occupational asthma because of large quantities of dust they inhale from the flour and grain used in their workplace. Flour dust is classified as a substance hazardous to health as it causes not only asthma, but also short term respiratory, nasal and eye problems.

Flour dusts can cause;

  • Irritation in the eyes (conjunctivitis) resulting in watery and painful eyes
  • Irritation to the nose (rhinitis) resulting in a running nose
  • Occupational dermatitis resulting in redness, itching and blistering of the skin
  • Asthma, if a worker becomes sensitized, it may result in breathlessness, tightness on the chest, wheezing and bronchitis. 

Given that flour dust is classified as a substance hazardous to health, employers are required by Law (Health Regulation 2002) to assess the risks to their employees, decide what precautions are required, and prevent or adequately control any exposure to flour dust. 


In bakeries, dermatitis is caused by contact with liquid ingredients such as olive oil and the handling of flour/dough, sugar, spices, herbs and seasoning. Symptoms of the disease include; reddening of the skin, itching, flaking and blisters. The hands and forearms are most commonly affected. 

c.Health Implications Associated with Temperature

Many workers face extreme temperature, especially those working in cold stores, near bakery oven or furnaces. Workers will complain of discomfort if they cannot cope with the temperature. Working in wrong temperature can result in loss of concentration, irritability, tiredness, discomfort and increased accidents risk. Too much heat can cause fatigue, dehydration, dizziness and fainting, heat stress and ultimately heat stroke. 

Cold temperature affects dexterity, mobility and may increase physical and visual strain, fatigue and other problems for people with muscular pain, arthritis and heart conditions. 


Analysis of accidents in the bakery has highlighted the risk associated with operations on the health of workers and environment as well as preventive measures that may be taken to mitigate them. 

40% of major accidents in bakeries are due to slips on wet floors or spillage of dough or other wet ingredients. Uneven and obstructed floor surfaces also lead to trip accidents. Many accidents occur when staff fall from heights, e.g. when loading/uploading, handling heavy weights such as bags of flour or trolley and trays result in injuries of the back and muscles. Machineries in bakeries contain many items of dangerous machineries where staff can come into contact with moving blades, conveyor belts etc can lead to severe injuries. 

Health problem and flour dust exposure is a major problem in the bakery causing asthma and nose, throat and eye disorders. The handling of dough and other ingredients can cause dermatitis. 

 Managing the Risk

The Management of Bakery should:

  • Provide slip resistant floor coverings
  • Introduce measures to avoid spillages and leakages, e.g. using

secured storage bins or purchasing liquid in small containers

  • Ensure spillages are cleared up promptly and display warning signs

when floors are wet or slippery

  • Keep production areas, and passageways obstacle free
  • Provide safety ladders to assess goods at height
  • Maintain equipments in good condition
  • Ensure that dangerous parts are adequately guarded,  interlocks are

working and machines can be readily isolated.

  • Display warning notice to remind operators and others of the dangers


  • Provide training on working safely
  • Keep chemicals in original containers and train staff on their correct


  • Provide suitable oven gloves for handling trays etc. Adopt safe systems

for heating and handling hot liqiuds

  • Identify all sources of dust and control exposure where possible at all

stages of production, e.g. minimal storage in production area, adequate ventilation, enclosed mixing system etc

  • Provide suitable protective equipments, e.g. face mask/gloves where


  • Ensure all equipment have safety guides and workers

should be issued appropriate PPEs

  • Ensure good housekeeping is maintained at all time in all areas
  • Insulate ovens and cooking areas to reduce energy consumption
  • Maintain refrigeration units to ensure there are no leaks. If leaks are

found, repair them, and followup the repairs with leak checks. Maintain complete service record.

  • Train workers on the correct use of machineries; safety devices,

extinguishers, redesign manual processes to avoid heavy lifting/repetitive activities, install machanical lifting aids where possible and rotate work tasks to mitigate repetitive activities, install safeguard on peelers, moving parts of conveyor belt and packaging machinery to reduce risk of entrapment of employees

  • Provide appropriate PPE (ear muffs) to reduce, use measuring

instrument to detect noise and have a good knowledge on how to reduce noise from all sources.

  • Ensure noise exposure is mitigated by isolating noisy equipment or

rotate task to minimize time spent in a noisy area.

  • Train employees in good hygiene practices such as regular hand

washing with soap, prohibition of smoking, eating and drinking in the work place.

  • Ensure that wastes are collected, segregated and disposed on regular

basis and waste storage areas are clean.

  • Monitoring programmes, training of personnels, regular inspections,

checks and records to demonstrate achivement of improvement are necessary

  • Storage of inflammable subtances should adhere to legal specification
  • Proper monitoring and health surveilence is essential
  • Work carefully to avoid raising dust
  • Maintain green belt by planting trees to check Carbon iv oxide emission and trap sun rays.

  Occupational Health Action Plan

Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act), employers have the primary responsibility for taking all practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of employees and others at the work place. Within the context of occupational health, Bakery must manage their workplace hazard to reduce harm. For action to be effective, management and staff should:

  • Have easily access information on the nature of health hazard and how

it can be controlled and monitored. This information must be updated as new health hazard management techniques are discovered

  • Have the necessary capability to manage using equipment, technology

and managerial skills

  • Improve surveillance, raise awareness on occupational health issues

and reduce workers exposure to health hazards

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