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Here Comes the Health Inspector

At Labor Systems Job Center we work diligently to take as many potential compliance and regulatory issues off of the hands of employers as is humanly possible. As many employment-related compliance issues as we can handle for you, we are unfortunately unable to address every piece of regulation on your behalf.

Our partners who operate in the hospitality industry know that any business that serves food is subject to regulation by the Office of Food Safety and Environmental Safety. This governing body inspects and certifies that restaurants and other establishments that serve food and drink adhere to sanitation standards, which ensure that their customers are safe from foodborne illness.

If you would like a comprehensive view of these regulations, they are kind enough to provide a PDF which details standards and compliance issues. If you are running a business and limited on time we will refresh you on some of the main points of compliance.

Compliance Issues Related to Food Safety in Arizona

  • Accountability- Your business will need a “Person in Charge” who has been certified by the state. This person–you or a manager–is responsible for knowing all aspects of food safety, from proper storage, to the right food handling techniques, to appropriate employee hygiene. Technically someone with this distinction must be present during all business hours to oversee your staff and operations as they relate to food safety.
  • Employee management- This is where prepared temps can really pay off. Your “Person in Charge” is responsible for overseeing the staff and how they interact with food. Technically your staff must be forthcoming about any injuries or illnesses that they suffer from before you can allow them to work around food. Your “Person in Charge” is also responsible for verifying that your staff maintains acceptable levels of personal hygiene both in preparation for and during their shift.
  • Storage- Food storage is extremely important. Not only must particular foods be stored on particular shelves (no vegetables below raw meat of course), but you must also label the packages according to food type, date, etc. Food packaging is also an issue, as anything in a tainted or otherwise damaged package must be noted and removed from food storage and obviously not served to customers.
  • Contamination- Bacteria spreads fairly easily and invisibly. You are responsible for stopping the spread of bacteria and containing any potential outbreaks through proactive actions and educating your staff. The state breaks down sources of contamination as follows:
    • Contamination from hands
    • Contamination from tasting
    • Contamination while separating, packaging and segregating food products
    • Contamination from ice– including proper ice machine setup and drainage
    • Contamination from lack of washing (mostly vegetables)
    • Contamination from equipment, utensils and linens–you will need to know the different standards and uses for utensils made from different materials as well as proper dishwasher maintenance.
    • Contamination by consumer (This applies to food products used as a display and to buffet situations.)
  • Presentation- Your health inspector also wants to verify “food shall be offered for human consumption in a way does not mislead or misinform the consumer.” This means that coloring or wraps cannot be used to change the appearance of food and that verbiage is plain and understandable.
    • Verbiage- When presenting food to guests, you must use plain and common names to identify the food products. You must also include reminders about food that may be served undercooked or raw and the dangers that might accompany such food.

Being in compliance with the state is not only good for your guests, but necessary to keep your license. We realize that these issues keep you busy on a day to day basis. If you need some more time to cover these compliance issues and are in need of additional staff, visit Labor Systems online to see how we can help you.

Sources:

Arizona Department of Health Services

Arizona Office of Environmental Health

Related Posts:

On the Job Safety

What Makes a Good Hospitality Employee

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On-the-Job Safety

We understand that as an employer you care about the safety of your workers. Workplaces can present employees with danger on a regular basis if they are not prepared and planning for safety. While some work places present more dangers to workers than others–the construction industry accounts for more job related fatalities, 22%, than any other industry–every workplace needs to think about safety.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration oversees on-the-job safety on a national level. Locally the Industrial Commission of Arizona is the governing body that actually inspects our businesses and enforces national and local laws. Arizona is the only state with an independent group that performs inspections and enforces regulation. While their main offices are in Phoenix and Tucson, we all know that they have a presence throughout the entire state. They are responsible for evaluating workplaces. You may have been subject to an inspection in the past. They concentrate inspections on businesses that operate in industries that are traditionally and statistically considered to be more dangerous than others. Outside of those industries they target businesses that they feel have a high number of workers’ compensation claims. Their inspection will ensure that you are in compliance and will help you get on the right track if need be. (This link will lead you to printable versions of safety posters that you need to display in your business–we must all focus on compliance)

How Do I Increase On-the-Job Safety?

The best way to maintain a safe work place and limit employee accidents is to plan to be safe. There are many factors that you should consider. Begin by focusing on:

  • Employee training and education- It is vital to make your employees aware of the dangers that may be present in their work place. Every industry is different; however everyone can benefit from training.
    • Fully train staff who use heavy equipment or even lighter duty equipment that may be able to cause injury.
    • Don’t just focus on new staff. Have follow-up safety training sessions at least annually to stress how important it is.
    • Stress the importance of safety equipment–whether it is eye protection on a construction site or cut gloves in a kitchen–to every employee and make safety equipment readily available.
  • Workplace design- The physical layout of your business can have a lot to do with safety. Organize your work environment so that it accommodates safety and accommodates back-up plans in the event of an accident. OSHA mandates that any general industry employer incorporate:
    • Hazard communication standards that inform employees of chemicals in the workplace. If you have dangerous chemicals around, you are required to have a written Hazard Communication program, among other compliance necessities.
    • An emergency action plan that tells your employees what specific actions they must take in the event of a fire or other accident or emergency. You will communicate this to your staff during training sessions.
    • A plan for exit routes. Decide upon the safest way for employees to file out of the building. Post the plan in writing and communicate it verbally.
    • Safe walking/working surfaces. Slips and falls account for more on-the-job injuries than any other type of accident. Use non-slippery surfaces to cover floors and keep them clean, dry and clear of clutter that might cause a fall.
    • Medical and first aid supplies and planning are a must. The extent of the supplies you must have on hand depends upon your specific industry, but everyone needs a general first aid kit and easy access to a telephone to alert emergency services. It might also be helpful to officially assign one or several employees the responsibility of contacting emergency services and helping injured staff until they arrive.

Hopefully you are accident free. Nothing bothers an employer more than knowing that their staff has been injured on the job. If you would like to bring on some staff who have already completed some general safety training, visit us online and find out more about what we can offer.

Sources:

United States Department of Labor

CDC

Industrial Commission of Arizona

Related Posts:

Workers Compensation and Compliance in Arizona

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