For many businesses, where margins are very tight, profits can depend on the control of costs - including loss from health and safety incidents - just as much as increased sales or higher prices.
HSE concludes that the key to effective health and safety is strong leadership. More information can be found by clicking here.
For those who have set up establishments that sell produce or prepared food to retail customers, the likelihood of increased penalties for contravening food safety and hygiene legislation may make this a good time to address food handling techniques and training.
The Sentencing Council has just closed a consultation on reviewing penalties to help ensure a consistent approach to sentencing, allowing fair and proportionate sentences across the board, with some of the most serious offenders facing tougher penalties.
It’s intended that in future, starting points for fines in this area will:
- reflect the seriousness of the offence (including the extent to which the offender fell below the required standard) and take into account the financial circumstances of the offender;
- meet, in a fair and proportionate way, the aims of punishment and deterrence and removal of gain; and are
- Sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact which will bring home to both management and shareholders the need to operate within the law.
If food handling is part of your business, it could be timely to review your existing systems. Ask yourself:
- Does your operation have all the appropriate food safety practices (to include but not limited to food handling, preparation, storage, service of food to the public) in place?
Are these properly recorded in your business?
Are the processes properly passed on to staff, with regular training updates provided?
Is all training properly recorded?
Is there an audit trail to show that all processes and staff training are regularly reviewed, and
Where there are deficiencies in process and training, what is being done to address these?
Are you doing enough to ensure that policies are followed and enforced, if appropriate through employment/disciplinary processes?
If there are any deficiencies, take urgent action to address them.