8 Facts About Sanitation Managers

Washing dishes at home is a reasonably straightforward process. Clean off the food from the plates, wash them with soap and water, then dry them until everything is visibly clean. Although this is a good start, you couldn’t perform the same process in food processing facilities. Just because a surface is visibly clean doesn’t mean it is. Certain bacteria, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E.coli), resist soaps and detergents. Cleaning food processing equipment requires specialized products and techniques due to their larger and distinctive nature.  That’s why these facilities employ experts who are knowledgeable about these cleaning and to oversee all sanitation tasks to ensure that the facilities remain clean and ready for processing. The professionals that perform these tasks are known as sanitation managers!  

1. Sanitation managers ensure food processing equipment is clean   

Sanitation managers are responsible for keeping food processing facilities clean and ensuring that processing facilities follow food safety standards. They schedule labour and cleaning tasks considering production runs created by production planners. Sanitation managers use their strong understanding of chemistry and cleaning methods to determine the best ways to clean specific equipment.  

Safety is a top priority for sanitation managers. They ensure food safety by monitoring staff adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), safety standards, and physical safety by implementing lockout and tagout procedures for equipment maintenance. Additionally, these professionals stay updated with scientific discoveries to improve sanitation operations by attending conferences for innovative ideas. Administrative tasks are also part of their duties, including budgeting, equipment inventory, setting goals, and tracking results. Overall, sanitation managers play a crucial role in any food processing facility.  

2. Sanitation managers schedule labour and cleaning schedules 

When scheduling production runs, you have to think about what you’re going to run and when you will clean the equipment. Think about when you are baking in your home kitchen. Sure, you could make 10 cakes in a day but you also have to factor in the time it takes to clean your cookware between cakes. Sanitation managers have scheduled labour to clean and sanitize equipment per sanitation standard operation procedures. Processing plants have multiple production lines, so much work must be done! Scheduling involves deciding how many staff it takes to clean a piece of equipment and when they will perform this cleaning.  

3. Sanitation managers have varied educational backgrounds  

The education needed to become a production manager is quite flexible. In some plants, you will find sanitation managers who only possess high school degrees. They started as production staff and worked their way up the ladder. Alternatively, some start out as quality staff working in food safety, eventually becoming sanitation managers. 

In contrast, other companies (usually larger ones) require potential candidates to have university or college degrees in food science, microbiology, sanitation food science or a similar technical field. Companies also usually seek out managers with experience both in a supervisory role and working in a manufacturing plant. 

4. Sanitation managers understand the chemistry behind their cleaning methods  

Cleaning is all chemistry. The role of sanitation managers is knowing what sanitation methods are required for any task. For example, sanitation managers need to know what chemicals can be used to break down biofilms formed by bacteria. 

As more scientific discoveries and technologies enter the market, sanitation managers can apply these discoveries to their work. Occasionally, these managers attend conferences and workshops to enhance their knowledge and discover innovative approaches that improve their operations. Overall, sanitation managers actively implement strategies to enhance quality and productivity. This includes developing novel ideas and refining existing processes. In doing so, sanitation managers contribute to improving their facilities.   

5. Sanitation managers also perform administrative work 

Sanitation managers are considered upper management positions requiring them plan and create budgets for the processing plant. They must budget for how much cleaning equipment is required for their department and maintain it’s daily inventory. Their administrative work also includes setting department goals and tracking results.  So for example, they may track how long it takes to clean a particular piece of equipment. If they find that it takes too long they will work with staff to determine the root cause help develop solutions to get the job done.  All of these administrative tasks are essential for ensuring the smooth and effective functioning of the sanitation department.

6. Sanitation managers ensure worker safety 

A sanitation manager handles two crucial aspects of safety. First is the safety related to their staff regarding food safety such as if individuals are following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and food safety standards. This might include checking if staff are wearing their hairnets properly and are wearing proper safety shoes.  

Sanitation Managers also look out for worker safety in terms of physical safety. Due to the necessity of dissembling equipment staff could encounter potentially hazardous electronics and components. If the equipment wasn’t locked out prior to cleaning this could harm staff. In response, these professanitation managers implement lockout and tagout procedures for equipment to ensure safety during maintenance. They also prioritize proper training for their team members, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to work safely with the equipment. 

7. Sanitation managers work closely with quality staff 

Maintaining a clean and safe work environment is essential, not just for appearance’s sake! It’s crucial for upholding stringent food safety standards and meeting regulatory requirements. These standards include specific criteria for assessing the cleanliness of food equipment such as bacteria levels or food production. Therefore, sanitation staff must rely on food safety staff to check over their cleaned equipment to ensure everything is cleaner properly. Just like how a teacher checks a students work before they can go out to recess.  

A common example of a check is when quality control staff test the ATP levels of a piece of equipment after it is thoroughly cleaned. In cases where machines consistently fail inspections, the sanitation manager collaborates with the food safety team to identify the root causes of these failed inspections and devise appropriate solutions. 

 8. Sanitation Managers are able to manage others time, make decisions and communicate effectively 

Being a sanitation manager requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include: 

  • Time management – These managers excel in efficient task organization and understand the processes required to complete them. Sanitation is a team effort involving all hands on deck so it is up to these leaders to determine the best team members to complete sanitation tasks. They make skilled time judgments to ensure that all equipment is cleaning in time for a production run.  
  • Decision-making – Sanitation managers promptly make key decisions despite incomplete information in pressured situations. Sometimes production runs change or equipment breaks down requiring the sanitation manager to change cleaning schedules. They know how to go through the decision-making process and evaluate their decisions. 
  • CommunicationEffective communication is vital for sanitation managers as they interact with individuals of varying levels of seniority within the facility. They must convey sanitation knowledge to new staff with limited experience while also being able to communicate long-term staff. Sanitation managers must also be able to switch gears and provide upper management with detailed insights in how their sanitation program is going.  

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