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D-D

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 03:40 PM

I am trying to come up with a return to work form for absence due to sickness so it can be recorded that the employee is not a risk to the product. It is for a Canadian company and I am told that you have to be careful here how it is worded to make sure it does not cause issues with the privacy laws and you cannot ask directly "Have you had sickness, diarrhoea, cold/flu, skin conditions, infected wound etc etc". Anyone local got further guidance on this please...?



Foodworker

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 06:39 PM

This is always a difficult area.

I don't know much about Canada but certainly throughout Europe the Civil Liberties legislation seems to take preference over Food Safety legislation even though you can rarely die from lack of privacy.

The law requires that any food handler reports to their company if they are suffering from, or have been in contact with, a relevant infectious illness which may be passed on through food.

it is the responsibility therefore of the individual to tell their employer.

It does not, in my understanding, require that a company questions a food handler about any illnesses.

It is reasonable not to expect that all employees are going to be fully conversant with the law, but a company should be. It is therefore the responsibility of the company to inform the individual of their obligations.

This can be done in a number of ways.

As part of Induction and other food safety training. the employee can be asked to sign an 'Agreement to Report Infections' document.

With respect to a return to work document, you can state something like:

"Illnesses and infections such as salmonella, E.coli, typhoid etc may be passed on through food and can cause serious illesses or even death. If you are suffering from, or have been in contact with a sufferer of such an illness, you are legally obliged to inform your company of the circumstances. Please sign below to confirm that you understand your obligations"

Creating the form is the easy part. It is what you then do when somebody tells you that they have had salmonella etc. which is more difficult. You need to have a defined policy to identify when somebody must be sent home or put on non food contact duties and when they may return to work.

It is mainly about covering your backside, if you pardon the pun, and it also becomes a nice way for staff to justify taking time off when they want to.



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Posted 29 October 2012 - 07:15 PM

Thanks for that. In the UK it was 48 hours symptom free as per FSA rulings and during training it was always said that if you have a dicky tummy on a Sunday but feel okay by Monday that doesn't mean you don't have to turn up until Wednesday and can be assigned yard-sweeping duties or whatever (to overcome the excuse you refer to).
It seems in Canada even listing conditions to which a food worker should own up may be an issue but that is what I am trying to clarify...



shea quay

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 08:27 PM

This is always a difficult area.

I don't know much about Canada but certainly throughout Europe the Civil Liberties legislation seems to take preference over Food Safety legislation even though you can rarely die from lack of privacy.

The law requires that any food handler reports to their company if they are suffering from, or have been in contact with, a relevant infectious illness which may be passed on through food.

it is the responsibility therefore of the individual to tell their employer.

It does not, in my understanding, require that a company questions a food handler about any illnesses.

It is reasonable not to expect that all employees are going to be fully conversant with the law, but a company should be. It is therefore the responsibility of the company to inform the individual of their obligations.

This can be done in a number of ways.

As part of Induction and other food safety training. the employee can be asked to sign an 'Agreement to Report Infections' document.

With respect to a return to work document, you can state something like:

"Illnesses and infections such as salmonella, E.coli, typhoid etc may be passed on through food and can cause serious illesses or even death. If you are suffering from, or have been in contact with a sufferer of such an illness, you are legally obliged to inform your company of the circumstances. Please sign below to confirm that you understand your obligations"

Creating the form is the easy part. It is what you then do when somebody tells you that they have had salmonella etc. which is more difficult. You need to have a defined policy to identify when somebody must be sent home or put on non food contact duties and when they may return to work.

It is mainly about covering your backside, if you pardon the pun, and it also becomes a nice way for staff to justify taking time off when they want to.


It's rare a post on here knocks me for six, but sitting here with my bottle of painkillers and litre of vodka, this post could actually make my life worth living once again.

With a backround in the Irish meat industry, I've always had a "return to work post vacation" and "return to work post illness" record sheet. The reason for the first came about from the six months I spent stranded in the UK during the foot and mouth outbreak (which didn't reach the Republic - that's our story and we're sticking to it), and the second for the obvious food contamination reasons. Great to have in theory, but a nghtmare in reality, and the amount of time I've spent chasing staff post illness and vacation that I could have spent crying myself to sleep imagining myself in the Pharma industry. No reason to disbelieve foodworker, but has anyone else in the EU audited under BRC tried this method of monitoring staff illness? How would a blanket approach placing the full responsibility on the individual staff member rather that a proactive individual approach look to an auditor (or judge and jury for that matter).

If it's any use D-D, this topic came up before with regards North America and was also shamelessly hijacked by us "better golfers" (as we like to refer to ourselves post Ryder Cup) without full closure. http://www.ifsqn.com...us-brc-code-74/


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Posted 29 October 2012 - 08:51 PM

Thanks shaky (:biggrin:); I remember seeing that post before but didn't turn it up when I searched. Sickness reporting = medical screening - d'oh!

As for working in the pharma industry, the pay is generally better too. Up for debate which area has more risk of people dying if things go wrong...



George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:29 AM

Hi D-D

I am aware that there is specific legislation in the US (andperhaps Canada) which makes this area less straight forward than in Europe.From my limited knowledge you must pose questions and gather information in acertain way to avoid issues with privacy. My colleague Chris Domenico has more insight on the subject and I will ask him topost on this subject.



George


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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:33 AM

Appreciated; thanks George.



Chris @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 03:17 PM

Hi D-D,
This particular subject has plagued me since the GFSI was introduced to the US a number of years ago - I even tried to reopen this subject a week or so ago as I know this is one of the most senstitive areas for US to fully comply. It seems to have boiled down to an employer having to weigh the risk of crossing the line of privacy in
order to fully comply to an auditing scheme. I went through the BRC certification with two different food companies (3 different auditing bodies) - neither of which did we meet the BRC requirement for Medical Screening. We risk assessed the clause citing the HIPPA law restrictions concerning the release of medical information, and then demonstrated control of that clause requirement through training and enforcing 21CFR110 (cGMP):

"(a)Disease control. Any person who, by medical examination or supervisory observation, is shown to have, or appears to have, an illness, open lesion, including boils, sores, or infected wounds, or any other abnormal source of microbial contamination by which there is a reasonable possibility of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials becoming contaminated, shall be excluded from any operations which may be expected to result in such contamination until the condition is corrected. Personnel shall be instructed to report such health conditions to their supervisors."

For this to work effectively, the company has to prove that it can help the employees comply with this regulations by way of maintaining confidentiality as well as providing work that would keep them out of the areas where contamination would occur. During orientation/induction, I used to phrase it along the lines of "we're not going to force you to stay home, unless you have a highly communicable virus that could affect your fellow employees. Maybe you'll have to watch paint dry for a few days, but you'll still be able to work and get paid - just know that the safety of our consumers has to be protected and we will work with you". It usually got a chuckle, and I also saw that be successful. If employees think that their paycheck is going to be impacted, they're not going to voluntarily comply. That's human nature.

I'm not as familiar with the implications in Canada, so unfortunately it more than likely means that you have some investigating to do. Recognize the requirement you are addressing, familiarize yourself with the privacy laws, risk assess whether you can achieve control through training and putting the onus on the employees to be responsible for reporting their illnesses, and then support them.

A quick Google search:
Canada Privacy Act
http://www.priv.gc.c..._07_01_01_e.asp
Canadian Human Rights Commission
http://www.chrc-ccdp.../page3-eng.aspx


I wish you the best of luck with this, and I hope that you check back in and let us know how you proceeded.

Thanks,

Chris Domenico



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Posted 30 October 2012 - 04:08 PM

Thanks Chris; sounds like I have wandered into a bit of a minefield on this one...!

Maybe I can adopt that Disease control clause and add to it with some of the "company care" wording from your following paragraph, if I may? It would be useful to put in a list of hints for employees to think about like those shown in the link from shea quay's post above but on the other hand, I assume naming specific conditions that people would own up to would then be going too far and contravene privacy.

The same is going to apply to visitor rules and questionnaires isn't it? European/BRC-style question and answer format of "Answer yes or no to whether you have the following conditions..." is not going to be allowed either.

I am also consulting with HR while at the same time trying to avoid spending several hundred dollars running it past a few minutes of a lawyer's time. Maybe they can tell me at least if Canadian rules align with the US and I will proceed as described.



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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:47 PM

Thanks Chris; sounds like I have wandered into a bit of a minefield on this one...!

Maybe I can adopt that Disease control clause and add to it with some of the "company care" wording from your following paragraph, if I may? It would be useful to put in a list of hints for employees to think about like those shown in the link from shea quay's post above but on the other hand, I assume naming specific conditions that people would own up to would then be going too far and contravene privacy.

The same is going to apply to visitor rules and questionnaires isn't it? European/BRC-style question and answer format of "Answer yes or no to whether you have the following conditions..." is not going to be allowed either.

I am also consulting with HR while at the same time trying to avoid spending several hundred dollars running it past a few minutes of a lawyer's time. Maybe they can tell me at least if Canadian rules align with the US and I will proceed as described.


It sounds likeyou have a clear understanding of what you are going to need, and I am very interested to know how you make out.
IMEX - Visitors/Contractors were informed that they were to discreetly let their contact know if they met any of the conditions described, and they signed acknowledgement that they understand and would comply. I would agree with using a list of sorts, but I would be sure to preface it with something along the lines of "such as, but not limited to". During employee training, I gave examples from the "list" - which inevitably drew chuckles when words like diarrhea were mentioned. I found that I could use that to my advantage simply by drawing off of it and further stating that “yes, things just like this. We’re all adults, so we need to be responsible about these things and do our part. Perhaps I just came back from a safari hunt in Africa and I may have been exposed to a disease…..that would be something I’d want to make sure the company knows about so the consumers aren’t exposed to a completely unsuspected disease.”

Let me be clear on this - I have talked with many (U.S.) QA Managers who have taken the opposite approach and followed suit with the European approach and haven't been sued yet. Ultimately, you have to make the best decision for your company/location and then make sure that you backup any deviation from the clause with sound reasoning, and acceptable control(s).
-Chris




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Posted 02 November 2012 - 07:35 PM

I found the attached and D.2.1.1 is quite clear stating, "personnel must advise management when known to be suffering from a disease likely to be transmitted through food".

I am therefore referencing the CFIA FSEP in the procedure, stating that the employee does not necessarily need to identify the condition and it is up to the manager to keep confidential any information that the employee decides to give.

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