Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) — Research for Safe Work

Companies in the food processing industry take raw agricultural products (such as grains) and turn them into the food products that we eat everyday (like bread and cereal).

The food processing industry is economically important to Washington State. However, relative to other industries, food processing has a high rate of injuries and illnesses that result in workers' compensation claims. Over 4,800 workers in the food processing industry are injured each year.

Highlights from SHARP's study include:

  • Companies that were organizationally healthy had lower work-related injury and illness rates.
  • Larger companies had lower injury and illness rates.
  • Organizationally healthy companies paid higher wages.
  • Among companies SHARP visited, those that had systems in place to keep workers safe and healthy also had lower injury and illness rates.

Food Processing Industry resources

Healthy Workplaces publications
Number Title/Description
65-1-2005 Blade Safety Tip Sheet for Food Processing (120 KB PDF).
65-1-2005(s) New Consejos de Seguridad Para Manejo de Cuchillos al Procesar Alimentos (31 KB PDF) - Spanish version of Blade Safety Tip Sheet for Food Processing.
67-1-2001 Successful Strategies in the Food Processing Industry (631 KB PDF / 2 min).
67-2-2001 Food Processing Industry Final Report (12 KB PDF) - executive summary only; please contact SHARP for the entire technical report.

Additional publications and resources

Safety in the Food Processing Industry: An Observational Assessment of Hazards from the State of Washington, Professional Safety, Journal of the American Society of Safety Engineers. November 2003. By M. Cohen, C. Connon, and B. Silverstein.

Steps can be taken to Prevent Slips in your Plant, Food Production Management, Volume 124-12, June 2002. By C. Connon and M. Cohen.

Musculoskeletal Risk in Fruit and Vegetable Processing, Food Production Management, Volume 125-10, April 2003. By N. Howard.

Machine Guarding in Food Processing Facilities, Food Production Management, Volume 125-12, June 2003. By C. Connon, M. Cohen, and T. Sjostrom.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss in the Workplace, Food Production Management, Volume 126-2, August 2003. By D. Bonauto and C. Reeb-Whitaker.

For market and labor information in the Food Processing Industry see the Washington State Employment Security Department's Food Processing Industry Profile (

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