Tip of the Week: Employee Downtime? Tried-and-True Production Tasks to Fill the Gap


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If you have time to lean, you have time to clean. Grab a broom – keeping your area clean always supports food safety. Clean the surrounding area, including cabinets and drawers. Ensure that sweeping is done in a direction away from food contact surfaces. 


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Do a mini self-inspection. Divide the team in groups and inspect sections of the line. This activity is a real time inspection, not the scheduled monthly inspection that happens every fourth Wednesday at 10 am! Sometimes impromptu inspections with line supervisors can be more valuable than scheduled inspections with senior management alone.

Check the product contact surfaces and product zones (directly above product contact surfaces) of your line for things that might contaminate the product. Look up and see if you can find any potential issues, especially those that are directly over the product, packaging, or finished product. Inspect the equipment for any potential issues, such as oil leaks or loose connections. Check the condition of tools and utensils used in processing (knifes, brushes). Make sure containers are covered and utensils and tools are properly stored.


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Re-stock packaging, bags, paper towels, raw materials, and other supplies in secondary storage locations. Verify correct rotation of minor ingredients in secondary containers (FIFO, FEFO).

Verify lot codes of minor ingredients in secondary containers. Sometimes production time constraints don’t afford employees enough time to verify lot codes when stocking secondary containers.

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Organize an impromptu training session on GMPs or other identified needs. You can appoint the best employee to provide a GMP review if he or she is comfortable doing so.


Assemble your immediate team and discuss what went well since the shift started and what can be improved by the end of the shift. Review the weekly key performance indicator (KPI) results for the line and share best practices by best employee or best group revealed in the KPI results. Recognize lines and specific people involved in good results if that information is available.


Review documentation to ensure it is legible and current. Write the work order for any repair jobs you have been thinking about or the location of any temporary repairs.

And remember, after being away from your work station, wash and sanitize your hands before returning to work!

Webinars are a great way for employees to use downtime. AIB's webinars are on demand and available when it's convient for you. 

Webinars are a great way for employees to use downtime. AIB's webinars are on demand and available when it's convient for you. 

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