Tag Archives: employee training

Food Safety Danger: More Than Half of Employees Go to Work Sick

By Maria Fontanazza
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Today the Center for Research and Public Policy (CRPP) released a survey that highlights several key findings related to how frontline food workers operate and approach their jobs. Commissioned by Alchemy Systems, the annual “Mind of the Food Worker” survey revealed enthusiasm on the part of these employees to continue to grow and move up the ranks within their organizations while also underscoring what has become an increasing problem across all U.S. industries—the fact that employees still show up to work when they’re ill.

Food & workplace safety. All graphics courtesy of Alchemy Systems
Food & workplace safety. All graphics courtesy of Alchemy Systems

“Leadership doesn’t believe that people go to work when they’re sick,” Holly Mockus, product manager at Alchemy, told Food Safety Tech. “If people are sick, they should stay home. Not only are we talking about [infecting] people who you’re working with, but we’re also talking about foodborne illnesses that can be transmitted into food.” Employees go into work when they’re sick for a variety of reasons: They don’t want to let their fellow coworkers down (46% provided this response in the survey); they feel peer pressure as a result of staff shortage; or they feel they simply don’t have a choice due to attendance policies and can’t afford to lose pay (more than 45% of respondents gave this answer).  “As an industry we have to take a look at the policies and procedures, along with the way that we’re staffing, and see what we can do to alleviate this [issue]”, says Mockus.

Good News on the Frontlines

Food & workplace safety
Worker confidence reflects a paradigm shift in the food industry.

When confronted with a food safety or product issue, 93% of respondents said they had the confidence to stop working. “The industry has made the paradigm shift that we’ve all been striving so hard to achieve over the last several years,” says Mockus. “The fact that [food workers] understand their role, food safety and workplace safety, and are willing to take responsibility to ensure they stop something that is going awry—that was a very positive thing to come out of the survey.”

The other area of optimism on the frontlines concerns the enthusiasm of workers in improving performance—67% of respondents expressed an interest in being involved in the development of training. This response indicates a movement towards more proactive employees who want to be part of the solution and make a difference. The key takeaway here is for corporate leadership to leverage the institutional knowledge that these in-house frontline workers have to further improve the business and how it operates.

“The food industry needs to take a step back and stop thinking about their workers as hourly workers and instead as an asset to the business,” says Tara Guthrie, communications at Alchemy. “Right now they’re not traditionally viewed as human capital in a corporate world, but they could be a big asset and have a big impact on the bottom line.”

How Employees Learn: A Shift in Mindset

Worker satisfaction
Businesses need to change how they collaborate with and train employees.

Millennials and the reliance on technology have changed how employees learn and operate in the workplace. Within the leadership survey results, nearly 33% of respondents are making changes to adjust to how millennial employees learn. “Traditional management style doesn’t always work well with millennials,” says Mockus. This particular generation is also more in tune with using technology to communicate—even when they are sitting across from each other. Mockus indicates that leadership needs to clearly communicate to millennials the importance of understanding their role within their organizations, especially from a day-to-day operation level, as well as present information in a manner that captures their attention, allows them to retain the information, and enables them to put it into practice every day. This strategy should also extend to other generations of frontline workers. “I think all of us have become accustomed to having immediate information that is encapsulated and contained within a few words,” says Mockus. “We are so used to scanning information and moving on. We have to keep in mind that the way in which people are learning, retaining information and using it is changing. Companies that work toward accommodating those millennials will also be doing a good service for the rest of the adults in the workforce.”

Food Safety and communication gaps that impact the workforce
The survey found some key findings related to communication gaps that impact the workforce.

The survey polled more than 1200 food employees working within production, processing, and distribution—from farms and ranches to slaughterhouses and food processing plants to commercial bakeries, retailers and distributors. It was conducted earlier this summer, and employees were located in the United States and Canada. One of the goals of the survey is to give the industry active takeaways to further drive safety in the food supply.  “We are trying to understand the food workers because they’re such an important part of the whole supply chain,” says Mockus. “They are the most important ingredient in every product that is produced.”

For more key findings, view the Mind of the Food Worker survey.

Next month’s Food Safety Consortium conference will address issues related to employee training, Food Safety Culture, compliance and much more. Register here. The event takes place November 17-20 in Schaumburg, IL.

FDA

FDA Releases Voluntary Retail Program Standards

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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FDA

After receiving input from federal, state, and local regulatory officials, along with industry and trade associations, academia, and consumers, FDA issued its Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards last week. The standards address “what constitutes a highly effective and responsive retail food regulatory program,” according to the document.

The Retail Program Standards include:

  • Promoting the adoption of science-based guidelines from the FDA Food Code
  • Promoting improvement of training programs to ensure local, state, tribal, and territorial staff have the necessary skills, knowledge and abilities
  • Implementing risk-based inspection programs
  • Developing outbreak and food defense surveillance plans to enable systematic detection and response to foodborne illness or food contamination

The 2015 edition contains new worksheets that are intended to assist regulatory programs in looking at how their programs line up with the 2013 Food Code. This includes helping them assess the consistency and effectiveness of their enforcement activities, and a verification tool to help independent auditors with these self-assessments. Although jurisdictions can use the worksheets and other materials without enrolling in the Retail Program Standards, FDA encourages them to do so, as enrollment allows them to apply for FDA funding. The agency also lists the jurisdictions enrolled in the program here.

Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services, Orkin, LLC
Bug Bytes

Five Pest Management Tips for Restaurant Employees

By Ron Harrison, Ph.D.
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Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services, Orkin, LLC

Restaurants can face major risks related to pest activity, which is why a proper Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program must be in place. However, restaurant owners are not the only ones who should play a part in the IPM program; employees should participate as well.

Often times, live pests are sighted in restaurants, which can result in immediate consequences to a restaurant owner’s bottom line. Therefore, restaurant employees should be trained on how to prevent and react to pest sightings in their establishment.

The following tips will help restaurateurs get their employees on board with pest management:

  1. Contact a pest management professional for a complimentary on-site employee training that will teach employees the importance of pest management and how it could affect the diners’ experience.
  2. Diners have zero tolerance for pests. Ensure employees know the protocol for pest sightings, which should include:
    • Catching the pest for identification
    • Recording when, where and how many pests were seen
    • Assisting your pest management professional to determine the method of treatment.
  3. The most productive way to keep all employees involved in pest management is to add one or two pest control responsibilities to their daily routine. These responsibilities should align with employees’ roles and can be as simple as regularly emptying trash cans and re-lining them, or clearing and sweeping food debris.
  4. In common employee areas, post educational materials such as sanitation checklists and pest identification sheets that provide information on common pests and potential health threats.
  5. Establish an open line of communication that encourages all employees to report pests immediately. Remember that employees can bring pests into the restaurant on their belongings from home, so it’s important that they know pest sighting reports are encouraged to prevent pest activity in areas such as break rooms, the kitchen or the dining area. Fostering an open line of communication will help restaurateurs get ahead of any pest issues and related health and safety threats.

Is Your Document Control System Effective?

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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This article describes eight traits to look for in a good Document Control System, and the overlying benefits that can be reaped from using Document Control to drive compliance in your processes.

Document Control is one of the most common applications in compliance today. It allows an organization to manage the creation, approval, distribution and archiving of all controlled documents and processes. It is an integral part of Quality, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), or Compliance Management systems. This is because in order to effectively maintain consistency in processes, job descriptions, work instructions, and more, an organization needs to ensure that records are controlled. It also keeps tasks on track and ensures that they are accomplished on time. This article describes eight traits to look for in a good Document Control System, and the overlying benefits that can be reaped from using Document Control to drive compliance in your processes. 

Eight characteristics of an effective Document Control System

1. Workflows for All Document Types: No two document types are alike. There are differences within each that should be taken into consideration. For example, a job description cannot be treated the same as a work instruction or procedure. Each of these types of documents may have separate approvers, managers, and workflows and should be handled in a unique manner. A good Document Control System can automate and manage documents efficiently. A great Document Control System can facilitate dedicated workflows for all document types, each complete with their own routing options.

2. Ability to Configure Metadata: When in the Document Control form, one of the critical aspects is the ability to segment that data and describe the type of document. This is accomplished through metadata, which is essentially a high level description of each document. It assigns a department that the document is associated with, describes priority level, ISO elements, and records specific information. Metadata also helps to categorize and report on data. It helps to search and filter so it can be found in the system and categorized. The key for an organization is to find a system that will allow it to configure metadata based on document type, in a flexible manner. This will allow them to change fields, add categories, keywords, and more. This configurability within Document Control forms is critical to adapt the Document Control System to meet unique business needs.

3. Integration with MS Office Documents: The majority of organizations use Microsoft Office to manage most of their documents and files such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are still the standard for creating documents within businesses today. Therefore, the ability for a Document Control System to work well with MS Office is an important distinction. This way, an organization can preserve the metadata and sync both components. If a change is made in the Document Control form, it is reflected in the Word file, and vice versa. This integration links the two components together, so that one is never inconsistent with the other. 

4. Intelligent Business Rules for Review and Approval: The power of an automated Document Control System lies in its ability to route documents along the workflow. Documents can’t just be checked in or out, there needs to be a process of approval and review as well as document sign off —it has to go through different phases of workflow. This makes flexible routing options a necessity in a Document Control System. A good Document Control System enables organizations to route documents to the next phase in the workflow, but also has intelligent business rules associated. 

5. Integration with Employee Training: A critical component to any Document Control System is that if a new document is created or an existing document is changed, people need to be trained. This is a vital reason for having Document Control process. During revision or creation of a document, the user should be able to specify the type of training associated with it. A bonus is the ability to automatically integrate training. Some companies include a “waiting release” phase. This means that before the document is released, it is out in a holding pattern—this is when training happens. The benefit is that employees can train on the document before it is released to world, so that when the document is released employees are already trained and knowledgeable on it. Some systems automatically have a Training System built into Document Control, which allows them to integrate Training with Document Control and to test their knowledge on that document. Ultimately, when there are changes made to any document, employees need to be apprised of new procedures and specifications and trained on any new revisions that are released. This process should be automated—manual tracking and training processes leave room for error. A Document Control System integrated with the Training application helps to easily define who needs training on each document. It also automatically updates training records for each employee, allows for self training, and automatically updates each employee status upon training completion. 

6. Change Request and Revision Control: Document Control is a continual process. Once documents are created and approved, there will most likely be changes made in the future. Change control and revision control in itself should be a workflow to ensure controlled access of all documents and changes to documents. A good Document Control System will have its own change request workflow that includes revision review and approval. It will also hold the original document until the new document is changed—once the new document is approved, it will take the old document’s place. Sometimes an organization will have changes that affect multiple documents. In this case, the system should be able to make a global change. This allows an organization to make multiple document changes within the same workflow and will show all documents to be changed, all affected areas, and where it will be changed. This is important because when making changes to a document, other documents may be involved or affected. A good Document Control System includes a multi-document change request that will save time and resources for the company. 

7. Reporting: When an organization has a lot of documents and data going into the system, it needs visibility to look at that data in a meaningful way. Using metadata can help by filtering documents by phase, keyword, and more. Having a system to filter data this data is key. Good Document Control has reporting engines built into, or tied to it. This allows the system to quickly and effectively look at data on aggregate level, and run ad hoc reports, scheduled reports, and template reports on the health of the Document Control System. People want to be apprised of where overdue documents so they can take steps to fix them. Reporting provides this visibility.

8. Intuitive Filtering and Data Security: Within any system, the ability to ensure secure data and documents is critical. An organization wants to make sure that appropriate levels can access, approve, review and make necessary revisions to the document. A good Document Control System will have the security in place that will allow the organization to filter each document to appropriate security levels. In multisite, centralized systems, filtering and securing data often becomes a concern. An effective Document Control System lets an organization limit data visibility to only what is necessary to the user. Depending on the access level of the user, the visibility of documents will change. This ensures that an organization can operate in their Document Control System safely and securely.

Summary

The Document Control System is major information hub for the Quality system and sets the foundation for doing business in a compliance context. It sets the policies, the practices and the enforceable regulations that drive the company’s Quality and EHS initiatives. A good Document Control System will intelligently automate the review and approval process. It will link documents and records so that information is easily transferred, and will foster a platform for intelligent business rules and change management. It allows the integration of Document Control with the Change Management System to simplify change requests and allow single revisions; with Employee Training to efficiently train employees on new documents; and with Deviations to ensure that employees are aware of any planned deviations and these are tracked to completion. The eight traits of an effective Document Control System, combined with the overreaching benefits of the quality system, provide a holistic system for managing documents and extending to the other crucial areas of the enterprise. The QMS is the guide to making sure this is done as easily and effectively as possible.

The above article has been adapted from a white paper by EtQ, Inc.