David was a long-serving maintenance engineer at a large UK food production company responsible for ensuring that production lines were kept hygienic and smooth-running. The company had been in the process of transferring its production to a new building which involved installers using welding equipment and potentially hazardous cleaning materials.David was concerned as he believed this process could potentially contaminate production as food was still passing through the production lines for several hours while work was going on. David felt that the installation work should have been carried out after food production had ended. He also believed that management and maintenance supervisors had turned a blind eye to the potential contamination and food hygiene hazards despite other employees having similar concerns. David contacted Protect initially to report his concerns about food safety within the company and to inform us that although none of the employees were at risk, certain employees in the food production industry had not been acting in a responsible manner regarding food contamination.
What we advised
We advised David that we are not a reporting line and that our aim is to help employees who are witnesses to wrongdoing or who are worried about health and safety, to raise their concerns to the appropriate people or authorities in the most responsible way. We asked David whether he had spoken to the supervisor at the time or his manager. David said he hadn’t as he was worried that raising these concerns might get him into trouble. He also said that the company normally operated very high hygiene standards and didn’t want to rock the boat. He had also been thinking about bringing the issue up with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). We advised David that he should raise his concerns internally with his manager before going to the FSA especially as senior management may not be aware of the situation. We advised he should calmly explain what he witnessed and that he did not think it was appropriate to keep the food line running whilst installation and fitting work was going on.
David spoke to his manager and now feels that the situation has been dealt with sufficiently and senior management have taken these concerns seriously. They have agreed to give the relevant parties appropriate training and also agreed with David’s concerns about the way repair work had been carried out. Other staff have now also raised their concerns. David thanked us for the advice and said we have been very helpful.