Could technology be the key to food safety compliance in food businesses?

Food businesses have a lot of responsibilities in relation to food hygiene. By law, they must have a food safety management system in place, which covers everything from temperature control and safe food storage to hand-washing practices and food hygiene training for staff.

All of the different parts of a food safety management system can be tricky to track, as well as generating a lot of paperwork. This is why some food businesses, such as restaurants for example, as switching to more advanced, modern solutions.

There are now food safety monitoring systems available, such as the wireless Checkit system from Elektron Technology, which allow managers to keep track of temperatures in food preparation and storage areas wirelessly from smartphone and tablet devices. If normal food safety policies are breached, the system will sound an alert. These systems also generate compliance reports in addition to round-the-clock monitoring.

Of course, advanced technology can only do so much to ensure that food safety laws are being followed. Food businesses still need to ensure that they make thorough food hygiene training a priority, along with regular revisions and reassessments of practices and procedures.

HSE launches new health and safety guidance for large businesses

In an effort to help large UK businesses and organisations understand their responsibilities in relation to health and safety, and to abide by the law, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched brand new, user-friendly guidance.

The ‘Managing for Health and Safety’ guidance, or HSG65, is designed to help business owners, company directors, trustees and line managers understand how to manage health and safety in their workplace.

The guidance, which is available online at the HSE website free of charge, has four main sections, which are:

1. The core elements of managing health and safety
2. Are you doing what you need to?
3. How to deliver effective arrangements
4. Resources

Workers and their union representatives can also benefit from the improved information from the HSE, whether they have undergone health and safety training or not.

Commenting on the HSG65 guidance, lead author Andrew Cottam said:

“Each level of guidance on our website offers appropriately targeted information, focussed on making compliance as straightforward as possible.

“Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and businesses are free to take other action, but if they do follow the guidance they will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance.”

Improvements needed at Hemel Hempstead care home

A care home in Hemel Hempstead has been told that it must make urgent improvements to its care training, standards and practices after a damning report following a recent inspection.

Officers from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited the Mountbatten Lodge in June 2013 on an unannounced inspection. They found a number of worrying problems with standards of care at the home, including:

• A person who had been without food or drink for over 17 hours
• Two residents displaying signs of dehydration
• One resident who had not had medication for three days, after supplies had run out
• Dirty bathrooms and bedrooms
• Bad odours in different parts of the home
• Some bins, including those containing clinical waste, left overflowing

Following the inspection, a report concluded that the Mountbatten Lodge care home was failing on seven national standards, including infection control, cleanliness, care and welfare, medication management and meeting nutritional needs.

The home has now been ordered to make urgent improvements. The management team have agreed to draw up a step-by-step plan showing how they will make the required improvements to standards at the home, which may include more advanced care training for staff.

Somerton businesses get fire safety training

Businesses in the Somerset town of Somerton have been taking important steps to improve workplace safety standards, by sending their staff members on crucial fire safety training courses.

Many employees and managers from local businesses attended training sessions, which were held in the form of an open evening by Somerton Fire Station. Attendees were taught all the things usually included on a basic fire safety in the workplace training course, such as:

• How to spot fire hazards and take steps to remove or reduce them
• How to use a fire extinguisher and other fire-fighting equipment
• What fire procedures businesses should be following
• How to evacuate a premises if a fire should break out or the fire alarm should sound
• General ways to make the workplace safer and reduce fire safety risks.

Following the event, the Fire Service received very positive feedback from the local businesses whose employees attended the training. Any businesses which didn’t send staff members may now want to consider fire safety training courses for their workforces, which can help to make the workplace safer as well as enabling companies to better adhere to fire safety rules.

Quarter of Scottish takeaways fail food hygiene tests

According to the findings of a recent investigation by the Sunday Express, around one in four Scottish takeaways are failing to meet legal food hygiene standards.

The investigation was launched at the same time as concerns were raised about the increase in food poisoning in the country, with a 40 per cent rise reported in the first few months of 2013 compared to the same period last year.

It was not only takeaways which were flagged up for their poor food hygiene training and practices, however. The Sunday Express team also found that plush venues such as St Andrews Golf Club, the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and the BAA Skylounge at Glasgow Airport underperformed in a recent round of inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Even a cookery school managed to fail a recent FSA inspection.

Encouraging customers to check food hygiene scores before they dine out, the FSA in Scotland’s Elspeth MacDonald said:

“The Food Hygiene Information Scheme gives consumers easy access to useful information so they can make an informed choice about where to eat out. The FSA in Scotland is working in partnership with local authorities across the country to roll out and enforce the scheme.

“We recommend that everyone check the ratings on our website before eating out you know which eateries have achieved a pass.”

Quarter of Scottish takeaways fail food hygiene tests

According to the findings of a recent investigation by the Sunday Express, around one in four Scottish takeaways are failing to meet legal food hygiene standards.

The investigation was launched at the same time as concerns were raised about the increase in food poisoning in the country, with a 40 per cent rise reported in the first few months of 2013 compared to the same period last year.

It was not only takeaways which were flagged up for their poor food hygiene training and practices, however. The Sunday Express team also found that plush venues such as St Andrews Golf Club, the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and the BAA Skylounge at Glasgow Airport underperformed in a recent round of inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Even a cookery school managed to fail a recent FSA inspection.

Encouraging customers to check food hygiene scores before they dine out, the FSA in Scotland’s Elspeth MacDonald said:

“The Food Hygiene Information Scheme gives consumers easy access to useful information so they can make an informed choice about where to eat out. The FSA in Scotland is working in partnership with local authorities across the country to roll out and enforce the scheme.

“We recommend that everyone check the ratings on our website before eating out you know which eateries have achieved a pass.”

First aid kit advice pt.3 – knowing how to use a first aid kit

At the start of this guide (part 1 and part 2), we looked at what should be included in a first aid kit and where businesses should be looking to keep their first aid kits. Now we come to one of the most important pieces of advice – how to use a first aid kit.

Many first aid kits, such as those marked with a British Standard label, are designed to be as easy to use as possible. So, in an emergency, anyone can use the kit to give aid to an ill or injured person. However, it is recommended that only trained first aiders use first aid kits in the workplace, to ensure that injuries are dealt with properly and the business is not liable if something goes wrong.

It is a legal requirement for workplaces to have trained first aiders, meaning employees who have been on a first aid training course and who have been named as the designated first aiders for the business. A first aid in the workplace training course does not take very long to complete, but it can give you invaluable skills and knowledge that could save lives. You may even want to undergo first aid training even if you aren’t the designated first aider in your workplace.

Home building company wins health and safety awards

The home building company Berkeley Homes, which is based in West London, has been presented with multiple health and safety prizes at the recent National House-Building Council (NHBC) Health and Safety Awards.

The company not only won the Best Site Award 2013 in both the regional and national Large Housebuilder categories for its Wimbledon Hill Park site, but Berkeley also took home Highly Commended awards for its Ebury Square and Napier West 3 sites.

Commenting on the wins, Berkeley’s managing director Tom Pocock said:

“This is a fantastic achievement and a true recognition of the effort put in by all of the teams who work so hard to ensure that our sites maintain a high standard of health and safety.

“We pride ourselves on our positive health and safety culture, collaborating with sub-contractors to ensure excellence across all sites, so it is a real honour to receive these accolades from such a high-calibre organisation as the NHBC.”

The awards aim to recognise and reward businesses which demonstrate exceptional commitment to health and safety. Companies that invest in health and safety training for workers, implement safety rules and effectively plan and monitor health and safety on sites and during projects are the ones who will be celebrated in the NHBC Health and Safety Awards.

First aid kit advice pt.1 – what should be in a first aid kit?

Having adequate first aid supplies is a very important part of any workplace’s health and safety measures, but it can be difficult to work out exactly what and how much you need.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) doesn’t stipulate what businesses should keep in their first aid kits, nor does the organisation endorse any particular products. However, you can get British Standard first aid kits for your workplace which generally contain all you need. These kits usually contain:

• Burn dressings
• Finger dressings
• Saline cleansing wipes
• Triangular bandages
• Dressings in a range of sizes
• Sterile eye pads
• Washproof plasters in a range of sizes
• Safety pins and scissors
• A foil blanket
• Disposable powder free gloves
• Tweezers
• Conforming bandages
• Eye wash
• A mouth-to-mouth resuscitation shield
• A first aid guidance leaflet

The larger your business and the more people who use the workplace, the more first aid kits you should have on the premises. You may also want to choose larger first aid kits which contain multiples of everything listed above.

It is also very important to stock your first aid kits according to the findings of your health and safety risk assessment, to ensure that your first aid supplies meet the needs and demands of your particular circumstances. Lastly, you need a responsible person who has undergone first aid training to be able to use the kit and administer first aid.

First aid kit advice pt.2 – where should first aid kits be kept?

Having well-stocked first aid kits and enough supplies for everyone in the workplace (see part 1 of this guide) is incredibly important. However, it is also important to keep your workplace first aid kits in the right places.

There are a few simple things to remember when deciding where to keep your first aid kits. Primarily, your first aid kits need to be easily accessible. The last thing you want is for someone to need first aid but the kit full of medical supplies cannot be found. Place your kit in a communal area that everyone can get to easily and send out an email or a memo to let everyone know where it is. Better yet, arrange for your staff to undergo first aid training so they know how to use the kit as well.

The second thing to remember when placing your first aid kits is to make them highly visible. All you need to do is to mark the kit’s location with a sign – a white cross on a green background is widely recognised as the symbol for a first aid kit and should help everyone to find the first aid kit if they need to use it.