Best Practices for Color-Coded Tools

Here are five best practices for implementing color-coded tools in the food processing industry, according to Remco/Vikan Hygiene and Safety Products Corp.

  1. Keep it simple. Limit the number of colors you use to around 3-5 in small or medium facilities. In larger food processing plants, limiting the number of colors each individual has to remember on a daily basis to the same small range can help keep everyone on the same page.
  2. Pick contrasting colors. Though it might be easier to remember that red is used on raw beef, it can also present a problem if someone drops a tool into product that’s being worked on. If this happens, being able to easily spot a tool can mean the difference between a pricey recall and a fixable mistake.
  3. Avoid complicated color assignments. Having customized tools—like a green broom with a blue handle to represent a certain zone and allergen contact—may seem like a good idea, but it will inevitably lead to confusion and chaos. Instant recognition is one of the largest benefits of color-coded tools, and taking that away by complicating it will reduce its effectiveness.
  4. Roll out the program all at once—This will help in avoiding confusion. Make all tool changes at one time, along with an education program and a widely announced start date for the new transition.
  5. Use signage for reinforcement. Don’t leave room for ambiguity with color-coding. Use signs, in however many languages are needed, to remind workers which color is assigned to which zone.

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