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Can the Maintenance Guy fix the equipment and clean it for production?


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#1 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:09 PM

In our facility we only have one maintenance guy who does most of the small maintenance (fix pumps/hoses/grinders/etc) . Either himself or the plant supervisor fills out the work order and then he fixes it, but then HE also cleans the equipment prior to being put back into production. Most auditors don't like this because he is the one doing the maintenance and shouldn't be cleaning it for sanitation purposes. He has worked in production prior to being in maintenance and he is trained every year on cleaning/sanitation. Any thoughts on if this is acceptable? 

 

We brought it up to him about not cleaning and he was severely offended so i would like some input from other companies on whether they think this is a good practice or I should keep my foot down and make a production employee clean the equipment and not maintenance. 

 

Any advice is welcomed ! 



#2 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:21 PM

You don't have any sanitation people? Or you can have any production worker clean after he finishes. 

 

Now if you have a procedure for cleaning in place and you verified and validated it does not pose a food safety risks and he follows it, I don't see how it can be an issue. Make sure his cleaning is always monitored.

 

By saying most auditors didnt like it, are you implying they issued a non-conformance? Or they just expressed their disapproval? It isn't a really good practice generally, but like I said above, if its being monitoring constantly, what's the problem?


Edited by The Food Scientist, 24 January 2020 - 07:23 PM.

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#3 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:24 PM

We do have a sanitation crew but all of production is trained to clean equipment because inevitably we need to use it right when it is fixed. 

 

We swab any production contact equipment for coliforms after maintenance and cleaning, so to me that is verifying and validation. 

 

 

The auditors just have an issue because the maintenance person doesn't necessarily follow all the rules the production staff has to and works in the boiler room as his maintenance shop. He is allowed to go outside and to the hardware store, whereas the employees are not allowed to go outside in their uniforms. So in a sense he isn't treated like a production employee which is why they have a concern with it. 

 

Because we do swab it, is there not an issue and I should allow him to fix and clean it? 



#4 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:28 PM

So when he finishes fixing the machine in his broiler room, he takes the machine outside to production correct? Why not when he takes it outside (after he finishes fixing) and have the machine cleaned by the production crew prior to running? 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#5 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:31 PM

Yes, he takes the machine back the production room to be cleaned. He thinks that it's best if he cleans it right away rather than putting a tag on it saying it needs to be cleaned due to maintenance work because he can clean it himself and then there isn't a question if it is okay to use for production. He was very offended that we thought he wasn't qualified to clean it …. just trying to get thoughts one way or another so if we make him stop cleaning it and make production that we have some ground to stand on as to why this is a better practice. 



#6 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:37 PM

I can see the auditors concern with introducing more contaminants onto the cleaned equipment since he is able to leave, and works in a non-GMP (i'm assuming here) area. But as long as he is trained and is wearing adequate PPE and everything is written in a program for cleaning repaired equipment, I wouldn't have an issue with your maintenance guy cleaning it. I would think it's a higher conflict of interest having production employees cleaning it but if you are swabbing the equipment to verify the cleaning effectiveness, again, I would be okay with. This is how we performed cleans at my old place of work as well since we switched allergens multiple times a day.... that's my input for what its worth.



#7 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:39 PM

First, no need for him to be offended, explain to him why you are saying that (if you haven't). 

 

"He thinks that it's best if he cleans it right away rather than putting a tag on it saying it needs to be cleaned due to maintenance work because he can clean it himself and then there isn't a question if it is okay to use for production" - I mean it is not his decision to make if he is not the food safety top decision maker hmmm.

 

I think having a tag on it saying needs to be cleaned is a good practice, having a supervisor overlooking that (sanitation/QC) monitoring and releasing It can fall under "equipment release". 

 

Have a nice talk to them about the importance of having a better practice and what the auditor thought, listen to their ideas, tell them next audit auditor may issue a NC. Corretive actions will be a warning to employees not following food safety rules.

 

Also, what scheme are you audited against?
 

Previous job we had the same thing, as he transferred it to production he did have a tag on their with the work order attached for prod supervisor to see and clean as required, signed off that it has been cleaned and handed to the SQF practitioner.


Edited by The Food Scientist, 24 January 2020 - 07:43 PM.

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#8 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:42 PM

Thanks for all the input! 

 

Just want to clarify one thing from a response above. AC2018

 

"I would think it's a higher conflict of interest having production employees cleaning it but if you are swabbing the equipment to verify the cleaning effectiveness" - which do you think is a conflict of interest? Having the maintenance guy clean it or production? Just want to make sure I understand. 

 

@The Food Scientist - We are SQF level 2 - I have tried multiple times to explain it's not personal but he is taking it very personal and is now refusing to come to any trainings because he thinks the he now isn't qualified enough to clean so why should he be trained. The production supervisor is also on the maintenance guys side and thinks it's a better practice to have him clean it rather than implement another step to put a tag on it and have the production crew clean it. 



#9 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:45 PM

"I would think it's a higher conflict of interest having production employees cleaning it but if you are swabbing the equipment to verify the cleaning effectiveness" - which do you think is a conflict of interest? Having the maintenance guy clean it or production? Just want to make sure I understand. 

 

 

Not if it is constantly monitored and verified to be clean. This was a practice in many of my previous and current job. No SQF auditor had any issue with prod employees cleaning as long as trained, authorized to clean.

 

Yikes seems like you may be having a food safety culture issue right there ( the worst kind). 


Edited by The Food Scientist, 24 January 2020 - 07:46 PM.

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#10 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:47 PM

So then you are saying the maintenance guy is also okay to clean it because we train him like a production employee and we swab each piece of product contact equipment after it's had maintenance done. 



#11 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:49 PM

Yeah, so I was saying that it would be a higher conflict of interest for the production employees to clean it (in my eyes) but just as The Food Scientist just stated, "Not if it is constantly monitored and verified to be clean. This was a practice in many of my previous and current job. No SQF auditor had any issue with prod employees cleaning as long as trained, authorized to clean." I agree 1000% which is the point I was trying to make but I must not have been clear enough, oops!! 



#12 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:53 PM

Yup, like AC2018 said, I mean if proper PPE and procedure, verifications and monitoring, what is the issue? Does it lead to a NC? (Don't think so) Does it say WHO has to clean on the SQF code? Nope.

 

11.2.10.8 Temporary repairs, where required shall not pose a food safety risk and shall be included in the cleaning program. (Check what it also says under cleaning & sanitation) !


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#13 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:54 PM

Thanks! You know how auditors can get ... they have their opinion and if they don't like it they will push to make it a NC! 

 

appreciate the feedback. 



#14 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:56 PM

Thanks! You know how auditors can get ... they have their opinion and if they don't like it they will push to make it a NC! 

 

appreciate the feedback. 

 

If they make anything a NC which you think should not be and you're sure it's not specific in the code.....

 

Ask them during the closing meeting, can you please show me in the CODE how I missed this? And watch their face :)  


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#15 SQFconsultant

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 08:11 PM

Thanks! You know how auditors can get ... they have their opinion and if they don't like it they will push to make it a NC! 

 

appreciate the feedback. 

 

 

I was an Auditor - I find that most Auditor's are good.  It has nothing to do with "their opinion" it is either fact or not, standard or not standard, etc.

 

If you follow the typical repair, clean up, hand off, sign off how could there be an opinion about that?


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Serving the New Republic of the United States of America, Costa Rica, Panama & Caribbean Islands

 

 


#16 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 08:17 PM

I understand that if we follow what we say we do and the code, there should be no problem - which we do in this case. 

 

It is how picky people want to get. For the instance we don't make the maintenance guy change his clothes if he goes outside, the hardware store, work on equipment, etc. We do not have specialized PPE to wear for cleaning unless it is a hazardous chemical, so production employees just wear their uniforms (which we do not allow the production employees outside). So from their standpoint it should only be the production employees cleaning the equipment even though we have trained the maintenance guy and have swabbed the equipment. And although we have things in place we have had issues brought up with our system because they "felt" it poses a risk even though we have done the assessment and the validation to prove it isn't. 



#17 JohannesTrithemius

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 05:50 PM

Well...

 

Technically if he cleans it and leaves it on a shelf, it can collect dust and particles. Why not perform 2 cleanings?

 

When doing work on gearboxes oil and grease can get fairly messy, so if he performs the preliminary cleanse, followed by a "just in case" secondary cleanse, you've got all your bases covered, and he still gets to clean his stuff.



#18 Ryan M.

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 08:20 PM

I would be concerned about the inadequate control of environmental hazards the maintenance person will bring with him potentially transferring or contaminating the cleaned piece of equipment during the cleaning process.

 

If you truly restrict your production employees in the ways you describe and then normally do the cleaning of production equipment, then you can argue this point with the maintenance person.  Inform him it is not a matter of trust, or challenging his skill or expertise, it is a matter of limiting risk.  If he is still offended by this then it is a matter to get HR involved.  Period.



#19 Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 03:14 PM

It seems obvious there is no reason he cannot perform the sanitizing after he's finished if he's trained, tested and certified to be qualified (and you can prove it). My response is: If you only have one maintenance guy, what is he NOT doing while he's performing sanitation? Are there no PMs, inspections, other repairs etc he SHOULD be doing? It's a dollars and cents thing for me. After 20 years supervising Maintenance departments, I shielded my people from non-essential jobs considering their usually extensive to-do lists. Maintain / repair, then clear the machine, perform your tool accountability and get out! If it's not in their job description they don't do it. Take it out of his job description and explain that he has other things he's neglecting while he's doing sanitation. He sounds like a very conscientious employee, he wouldn't want to neglect legitimate duties for one's he doesn't have to perform. Communicate the expectations with the reason for the decision and he should be fine.



#20 Fishlady

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 04:05 PM

If you want the maintenance guy to continue to clean the equipment, make sure he is wearing proper PPE such as clean apron or smock while doing so. That should eliminate the concern that he is allowed to go outside, as long as he is properly covered while he is inside.



#21 IMRAN ALI

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 06:46 AM

Hi

 

The question of whether or not the Maintenance Guy fix the equipment and clean it for production is subject to departmental policy and procedures. so as long as there is no safety issues involved in doing so it can be assumed that the practice can be adopted with the given management approval in such a scenario.






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