Safety is one of Seattle Fish Company’s cornerstones. It’s even written on the walls throughout our facility; a visual reminder of just how vital our adherence to daily safety practices are. Our work around safety – both food safety (what we do to keep our products safe) and environmental safety (what we do to keep our people and customers safe) – represents our commitment to our customers, partners and community. In fact, safety is a focus for Seattle Fish Company and serves as a fundamental belief that helps us make decisions and guide behavior.
Our environmental safety program helps to reduce injuries, increase productivity, improve turnover, and even raise employee morale. Seattle Fish Co.’s food safety program is among the top in the nation, and also what separates Seattle Fish Company from the rest of the pack. But don’t just take our word for it – Seattle Fish is one of only 38 companies in Colorado, and the only seafood company, to have earned certification as a Level 3 SQF (Safe Quality Food) facility.
This level of safety doesn’t happen by accident, we have made a conscious decision to invest in raising the bar on safety including an entire team dedicated solely to making sure we follow (and exceed) industry food safety standards and personal safety practices.
Today we’re talking with Ken Boyer, Food Safety Quality Assurance Manager & SQF Practitioner, and employee of Seattle Fish Company for over 20 years.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what you and your team do at Seattle Fish Company?
A: In a nutshell, we work to ensure that Seattle Fish Company is providing the highest-quality and safest product possible to our customers. We accomplish this by diligently following a seafood HAACP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) plan regulated by the FDA. In addition to following our HAACP plan, we’ve self-created many SOP’s, policies, and procedures on what our employees need to do and follow every day to ensure we are sending out only the best product. My Safety team is responsible for conducting daily safety audit checklists that consist of about 15-20 line items, including checking for proper rotation, and ensuring that all products are labeled and binned correctly in our warehouse. Perhaps our most important work is training and educating our staff on food safety and personal safety standards.
Q: What does a “typical” day look like for you? What kind of things are you working on or trying to solve?
A: As you may have guessed, there is no typical day. Every day is different and that’s one of the things I love about my job. On any given day, I’ll be doing a lot of monitoring and verifying. This means that I’m reviewing all of our quality and safety checks from the day prior, and ensuring that anything that needed to be resolved has been completed. I also make sure that SOP’s are being followed, so I complete daily warehouse walks and look for opportunities for improvement throughout the plant. There’s a lot of problem-solving and quick action needed. In addition to my daily work in the office, I sit on a number of safety-related boards and committees and have been chair of the Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference.
I have a real passion for safety and enjoy working with other leaders in this space to promote safety across our industry, annd run a HACCP class on the weekends to certify others in best practices. I’m one of two instructors inside the state of Colorado licensed to teach this class.
Q: Has your role evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic? How so?
A: Yes! The Safety team has always done a great job of monitoring any industry or state changes to policy, but now we are also constantly following the CDC for recommended changes related to COVID. We also take and record temperatures daily and monitor for the correct use of PPE and social distancing throughout the facility.
Taking temperatures and daily monitoring / using PPE is not always easy or convenient, but our employees and customers appreciate the work we are doing proactively to keep people safe.
Q: What additional precautions has Seattle Fish Co. implemented during the COVID outbreak? Can customers feel confident that Seattle Fish Co. is prepared and taking every necessary safety precaution to keep them safe?
A: We developed and have been diligently using a crisis plan, a return to work plan, and actively educating employees on required PPE and social distancing. For any employees working inside the facility or outside in the field with customers, we are taking and recording temperatures daily. We’re also performing environmental (surface) testing throughout the plant and have implemented proper cleaning and sanitizing practices for high traffic and common areas. Lastly, we have a Safety Committee that meets weekly to discuss anything that came up that week and keep up with changing information.
All of these actions have created peer based accountability and support around how we act in this environment. That is ultimately something I am very proud – we are making safety cool again.