Christmas is a busy time of year for the food industry. Many manufacturers take on hundreds and even thousands of temporary agency staff during the festive period to cope with the increase in seasonal demand. With such a large influx of workers, how does your organisation ensure all staff are trained and compliant, and wearing all of the correct, necessary gear? In addition to this, how do you protect production from PPE stock outs? No one wants manufacturing to grind to a halt due to a lack of gloves or any other PPE critical to factory operations.

Many food manufacturers have little time to think about how their PPE supplies are going to meet the needs of hundreds, or even thousands of staff. Here's a simple check list to follow to ensure supplies don't run out during the busy Christmas period.

Forecast your PPE

Forecasting is the most effective way of protecting your business against stock outs due to the seasonal increase in demand. Look at previous years to gauge the number of staff members you'll need to take on, then you can predict how much PPE you’ll need for the increase in seasonal productivity. Plan your requirements ahead of time as accurately as possible.

Assess new product requirements

Consider whether your customer demands have changed in a way that impacts the PPE products you order. Have factory operations changed? Have you introduced new lines which mean new colours? Are there any legislative pressures that demand you use different products, such as latex-free gloves? Have you experienced quality issues caused by cotton products sourced in markets where there is little quality control over foreign particles like nut shells or hair? Also consider if your supplier is up to the task of sourcing new innovative solutions to help you overcome productivity or quality control issues.

Consult with your PPE provider

When you have some figures in mind, consult with your PPE provider ahead of time to secure the right amount of PPE at the best possible price. Ask about the availability of additional stock the provider stores so it can deliver at a moment's notice if you find levels diminish due to unforeseen circumstances. Ask for the provider's experience and best practice in preventing stock outs and find out how other people in the food industry safeguard themselves against the risk. For example, what PPE seems to get used or mis-used the most? For many, it won't come as a surprise to learn that gloves are the most common PPE to be used and mis-used.

Plan and prepare for seasonal workers

Even with the right policies and procedures in place, you can always expect a little wastage when it comes to PPE. Ensure there is a clearly defined PPE and workwear policy to minimise this waste and ensure that the correct equipment is distributed efficiently to those who require it. This will help curb costs and reduce the risk of stock outs. Prepare by putting together the relevant information and guidance - this can also be a check list you can use to forecast PPE levels. Make sure you monitor stock levels and have visibility over what and how fast items are being used. This allows you to be proactive, by working with your provider to give advanced warnings and the option to re-stock if need be.

Review PPE efficiency

Once you've forecasted your PPE and consulted with your PPE provider, you can plan and prepare for future seasonal trends based on past experience. This allows you to stock up ahead of time and prevent last minute rush orders to fulfil your PPE requirements. After you've reviewed usage after this year's busy season, you can then identify areas for improved efficiency next year, whether it's the delivery of PPE policy to temporary workers or negotiating suitable stock ahead of time. Review your needs and adjust accordingly for next year.

If you are experiencing any difficulties with managing PPE stock levels, availability of stock, or maybe you require some help with forecasting and planning PPE for the seasonal increases in demand, don't hesitate to get in touch with our PPE experts now. They'll make sure that your PPE requirements are fulfilled year on year to your satisfaction.

We can help you identify the right PPE for every worker, ease the culture change, and help you achieve a consistent supply. Call us on 0800 328 5028 for more information on how we can help you set up a seasonal PPE programme that protects your food products and drives down injuries.