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Is Religious Jewelry Acceptable?


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manwellm

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 07:59 PM

Hello All, 

 

We have a mainly Hispanic production crew. A few of the workers wear " religious" necklaces that they hide underneath their clothes, they say that it is worn for religious purposes.

 

I am conflicted on what to do because our GMP policy states that no jewelry is allowed inside production, but in the US, you do have religious freedom. 

 

Has any one else had this  issue? If so, what was done about this? 

 

 



MsMars

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 08:26 PM

Definitely consult with HR on this one, but most facilities that I've been with have done a risk assessment and made an exception if the employee wore the jewelry in a different location that lessened the risk to product (i.e. on an ankle).  I do know a lot of facilities do not make exceptions for this though.  It's tricky, so again involve HR/higher ups in your decision.



Ryan M.

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 08:38 PM

Keep in mind that you should consider personnel safety as well.  Jewelry is notorious for catching on things within the facility.

 

Yes, US has religious freedom, but that stops at the most part when employed in the private sector.  In the same vein, a company and its employees cannot persecute you on the job for your religious practices.



Charles.C

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 08:38 PM

Hello All, 

 

We have a mainly Hispanic production crew. A few of the workers wear " religious" necklaces that they hide underneath their clothes, they say that it is worn for religious purposes.

 

I am conflicted on what to do because our GMP policy states that no jewelry is allowed inside production, but in the US, you do have religious freedom. 

 

Has any one else had this  issue? If so, what was done about this? 

This current thread may be a forewarning of what's to come -

 

https://www.ifsqn.co...do/#entry160510


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


zanorias

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 08:51 PM

If the jewellery is fully concealed beneath clothing and a risk assessment concludes there is no significant FB hazard then you may have some scope to allow it. Best check the wording of any standards you adhere to. BRC for example, if I remember correctly, can allow the wearing of religious jewellery providing the above are done.

In an ideal world you can set one rule for "no jewellery" and everyone willingly complies. Unfortunately that isn't always the case and HR/religion can potentially become a tricky situation. I'd certainly advise treading with caution if you go down the disciplinary or sacking route.



SQFconsultant

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Posted 30 May 2020 - 02:10 AM

Regardless of "religion", you have to look at this from a safety standpoint - will a necklace impact the employee, your machinery, your product - if your risk analysis says no impact then you might consider allowing them... but it does open up a bit of a can of worms because therw will be other accessories that people will say are needed by their religion.

So, I'd be vwry cautious in what you allow.

Personally I wear teazits and they are either worn inside dangling down the inside of a shirt or hung from 4 belt loops, if in a plant I either tuck them in or secure them inside my clothing.

You have to make your own call on this based on risk.

For our plant we do not allow any exposed items.


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drk0904

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Posted 30 May 2020 - 07:08 AM

Ultimately each company will have to decide their policy after conducting a risk analysis in this scenario. I agree with MsMars on the point of consulting with HR.

 

In India many companies make an exception in their GMP policy/ jewelry policy. 

 

For example In India married ladies belonging to Hindu religion often time wear mangalsutra (a type of necklace worn by married ladies in India). Many companies do make an exception and give strict  instructions in their policy for such employees. Usually the company asks them to tuck it inside their uniform and to make sure that it is kept covered at all times.


Edited by drk0904, 30 May 2020 - 07:08 AM.


Charles.C

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Posted 30 May 2020 - 02:36 PM

Also see Post 9 in thread referenced in Post 4 above.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 12:51 PM

I have found that most religious "jewelry" requirements allow the person to have it on their person, not necessarily wearing it. I have people that keep a charm or medallion / pendant or crystal in their pocket during working hours. Maybe offer them the option of keeping it with them but not actually wearing it. Strictly speaking, it would be difficult to conduct a risk assessment that would find no food safety risk (let alone customer complaint!) potential from a necklace coming off or certainly a safety assessment from getting caught in a machine. The safety risk is potentially deadly so that would automatically deem it disallowed. The only jewelry I'm aware that can be allowed is a medical ID bracelet.



olenazh

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 12:59 PM

As it was previously mentioned in another similar topic - the rules must be followed by everybody with no exceptions. Food safety first! 



redchariot

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 02:24 PM

It is quite simple in my opinion, unless it is for medical alert purposes (e.g. diabetic), jewellery should not be worn.

 

It is in the terms and conditions of employment in my company that all food safety polices must be followed; this has to be signed as part of their contract. Anyone who breaches the procedures are given 3 strikes and then go to disciplinary which can ultimately lead to dismissal for gross misconduct (never gets anywhere close to this but it would happen if the employee absolutely refuses to follow the policy).

 

I understand the whole freedom of religion etc but safety trumps it every time. It would be a different issue if they were being discriminated e.g. not being hired or promoted etc due to religious grounds but not in this case



MsMars

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 05:42 PM

I understand the whole freedom of religion etc but safety trumps it every time. It would be a different issue if they were being discriminated e.g. not being hired or promoted etc due to religious grounds but not in this case

 

I like this approach - pass the sticky mess over to EHS.   :ejut:



FurFarmandFork

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 07:27 PM

As a helpful comparable example, the State of Oregon doesn't allow medical alert bracelets in food facilities.

 

2-303.11 Prohibition. Except for a plain ring such as a wedding band, while preparing food, food employees may not wear jewelry including medical information jewelry on their arms and hands.

https://www.oregon.g...ionrulesweb.pdf

 

 

That's usually a helpful example. If some states are so intense about jewelry they don't allow you to wear potentially lifesaving medical information, you spending a shift without your necklace seems like a smaller deal.

 

Alternatively, I've always had a jewelry policy of "if I can't see it, it can't get into the food". So wear it somewhere it can't possibly interact with food or equipment such as a pouch, in your pocket, etc. Funny how some of the strongly held personal beliefs suddenly are less important if you provide reasonable options that are only slightly inconvenient.


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kfromNE

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 08:45 PM

As a helpful comparable example, the State of Oregon doesn't allow medical alert bracelets in food facilities.

 

You'll find most if not all state food codes don't allow them. The reason - it's not allowed as part of the FDA Food Code for retail and food service industry which states adapt more or less. When I used to teach the food code - this was one rule I never understood.



MsMars

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 01:17 PM

You'll find most if not all state food codes don't allow them. The reason - it's not allowed as part of the FDA Food Code for retail and food service industry which states adapt more or less. When I used to teach the food code - this was one rule I never understood.

 

Is it that they don't allow bracelets specifically or don't allow medical alert jewelry at all? I could see not allowing bracelets because of microbiological harborage hazard. 



olenazh

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 01:45 PM

Interesting: allow wedding ring but prohibit medical bracelet. Doesn't make sense to me: wedding ring could be taken off without any harm done to religious believes whereas not having medical bracelet on would cause huge health problems. From contamination viewpoint, both are the same potentially hazardous if not cleaned properly.



Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 01:59 PM

Interesting: allow wedding ring but prohibit medical bracelet. Doesn't make sense to me: wedding ring could be taken off without any harm done to religious believes whereas not having medical bracelet on would cause huge health problems. From contamination viewpoint, both are the same potentially hazardous if not cleaned properly.

Actually it seems rings would pose a greater food safety risk that a looser fitting, further removed bracelet would? Being both Food Safety AND Safety Manager, OSHA could invoke the General Duty Clause for creating an unsafe work environment for an employee by posing an unnecessary safety risk by not having a potentially life saving medical alert bracelet / necklace. I'd rather take a one point deduction than incur a $70,000 fine from OSHA. Risk assessment should show allowing only Medical Alert jewelry doesn't create a high enough risk to prohibit them. Neither the GFSI nor FDA have the right to jeopardize peoples lives nor make food manufacturing too expensive to be profitable.


Edited by Hoosiersmoker, 05 June 2020 - 02:00 PM.


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kfromNE

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 02:13 PM

Is it that they don't allow bracelets specifically or don't allow medical alert jewelry at all? I could see not allowing bracelets because of microbiological harborage hazard. 

None at all which they do spell out that includes medical bracelets.



Charles.C

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 02:14 PM

Actually it seems rings would pose a greater food safety risk that a looser fitting, further removed bracelet would? Being both Food Safety AND Safety Manager, OSHA could invoke the General Duty Clause for creating an unsafe work environment for an employee by posing an unnecessary safety risk by not having a potentially life saving medical alert bracelet / necklace. I'd rather take a one point deduction than incur a $70,000 fine from OSHA. Risk assessment should show allowing only Medical Alert jewelry doesn't create a high enough risk to prohibit them. Neither the GFSI nor FDA have the right to jeopardize peoples lives nor make food manufacturing too expensive to be profitable.

Hi Hoosiersmoker,

 

I conceptually agree but it might well depend on the job also. I was thinking of using a frozen fish block cutting saw, can be extremely "potent" in the hand/arm area.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Posted 11 August 2021 - 06:20 PM

I know this may be a year or so late but here is my take on the situation.  

HR is not responsible or qualitied to make Food Safety Judgments on there own, sure you may take there opinion into consideration, however, as a food safety manager, it is your duty to make sure that all food is safe for ALL Consumers.

I disagree with having even a single wedding band, the risk of bacteria that could potentially contaminate product is just too great.  Its easy! do your risk analysis, making sure you are following foods safety regulations and apply your 7 principle HACCP steps to the situation. 

Don't get caught up on wanting to oblige your employee's human rights and forget about the human rights of your customers. 

Forget the idea of OSHA fees, and GFSI docked points and start concentrating on the real reason we do what we do.  IS there a potential to cause harm to the end user. IF you can say yes to any possible scenario, It's a problem and should be corrected.

To eliminate or reduce to an expectable level any risk to food safety.

 

A few things to ask yourself.

Are there CCP/CP's in place to catch the physical Hazard?

Are you willing to accept the consequences if you hurt a customer?

Is it more important to feed the wants of your employees or protect the lives of your customers?

Is this a risk for your employees safety?



SQFconsultant

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Posted 11 August 2021 - 06:54 PM

Our gmps state no "exposed" jewelry this allows for necklaces under shirts etc.

My lifetree 5G EMF protection disk can be worn on a necklace.

It's really all about risk though, so run a risk analysis before proceeding.


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