This article is written to meet the following sections of the Standards:

BRCGS Food Safety Issue 87.3 Medical screening
BRCGS Packaging Issue 66.4 Medical screening
BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 3Not applicable.
BRCGS Storage & Distribution Issue 48.2.1 and 8.2.8X Medical screening

8.2.5 and 9.6.6 Plasters

FSSC22000 Version 5.12.5.14 Health status
IFS Food Version 73.2.1, 3.2.2 Personal hygiene

3.2.5 Abrasions

3.2.10 Infectious disease

SQF Edition 911.3.1 Personnel welfare

What is self-care?

When we started to look at this subject in detail, we had to think about what we were going to call it. Medical screening didn’t seem right, as there’s more to it than that. It’s not really personal hygiene, because illness can occur even when good personal hygiene is in place. The SQF standard calls it welfare, but that (we thought) had more well-being connotations. We came up with ‘self-care’ because everything in this section – is all about the health and care of ourselves. It’s not a medical approach to the subject, as medical training isn’t needed to apply it – we can apply self-care. So, that’s what we’re going to call it from now on…

Procedure

There must be a document which details the site rules and guidance for self-care. This must be communicated to all personnel through training. The best way of doing this is to have a procedure – rather than having separate policies. You can then use this procedure to train your personnel. The term ‘personnel’ means, staff, agency staff, visitors and contractors.

The procedure for this section must detail how you’re going to manage:

  • Medical screening.
  • Open wounds.
  • Plasters.
  • Medication.

The aim of the above controls is to ensure that a medical condition doesn’t pose a risk to the product, whether the contamination be microbial (from infection) or foreign bodies (from plasters or medication).

Personnel eDocs

Medical screening

Personnel must be fit to work so that they don’t pose a microbial risk to the product. This means, that they must be trained to:

  • Recognise if they’re suffering from any relevant symptoms of infection or disease.
  • Recognise if they’ve been in contact with anyone who is suffering from an infectious disease.

In order for your personnel to be able to do this, you need to teach them what symptoms of infection or disease they need to look out for. This means, that they need to understand how microbial infections for example transfer to the product and the impact that this would have.

When personnel report infections or disease to you, you must have a procedure in place stating that they won’t be allowed to work where they’ll put the product at risk. Which means, that they can’t work with open food or food contact packaging.

The term ‘screening’ means an assessment – so you need to put forms of assessment in place, to make sure that those entering product areas are well and don’t pose a risk to product.

In some countries you’re not allowed to do this, but where the law allows, you need to have activities in your systems that ask about a person’s medical condition:

  • Before employment – known as a pre-employment questionnaire.
  • Before they come back to work after illness or holiday – known as a return-to-work assessment.
  • Before entry of visitor and contractors – known as a health questionnaire.

Each of these health screening activities need to be completed or reviewed by a competent person, who can take the appropriate action. This doesn’t mean that this competent individual needs to be able to medically diagnose the person, they just need to be able to determine if the person’s symptoms are a risk to the product.

Guidance can be provided as to what action should be taken. And if medical assistance is needed, then this must be sought from a medical professional.

Open wounds

An open wound poses a microbial risk to the product. This means that anyone working with product must have open wounds in exposed parts of the body, covered to prevent cross-contamination. All open wounds include:

  • Cuts.
  • Grazes.
  • Tattoos for two weeks post-inking.

When covering open wounds, the covering must be:

  • A different colour from the product (preferably blue).
  • Waterproof.
  • Food grade.

The covering should also be enclosed where possible with a glove or finger stall, to protect it from damage.

Plasters

This is an interesting topic – as it’s doesn’t make much sense in some situations. So, we’ll tell you what the Standard says, why it doesn’t make sense and what our advice is.

So, the Standard says that you must use metal detectable plasters on site. And that you must check them, to make sure they’re metal detectable, unless you don’t have a metal detector to do this. This is possible if you do have metal detectors or X-rays.

However, if you don’t – then spending the extra money buying metal detectable plasters, makes little sense.

The Standard says that even if you don’t have metal detectors, you still need to buy metal detectable plasters, because you may supply your product to someone, and they may have detectors. But if you sieve product as your foreign body control – then that makes no sense at all.

So – here’s what we suggest.

Plasters must be metal detectable and contain a metal detectable strip. However, where metal detectors or X-ray equipment isn’t in place, one of the following must be applied:

  • Plasters must be metal detectable as metal detection may occur further up the supply-chain.
  • Non-metal detectable plasters can be used where there’s another form of foreign body detection in place which will remove the plaster and which does not require a metal strip, such as filtration or sieving. The justification of this must be documented (as this is your evidence for audit).

Metal detectable plasters

Where metal detection equipment or X-ray is used, a sample from each batch of plasters must be checked through the detector. A sample must be kept with the records of this check.

Issuing plasters

Plasters must be issued, logged and monitored to make sure they don’t become a foreign body. This means that personnel must be trained to understand that they must report it if their plaster gets lost and that they must confirm that the plaster is intact before they finish work.

Medication

Getting medication in the product, can cause not just a foreign body risk – but depending on the medication it could cause other medical issues if it was eaten. The risk from the medicine packaging must also be considered.

This means that there must be a procedure which controls the use and storage of all personal medicines, to minimise the risk of them getting into the product.

Medicines shouldn’t be taken into product areas, wherever possible. However, where personnel have a medical need to keep their medication with them, there must be a process to control these medicines. Personnel must notify the company of their medical needs so that it can be reviewed before medication is taken into product areas.

 

If you have any top tips about how to handle controls for self-care, please share them with your fellow techies and pop them in the comments box below.

Personnel eDocs

Have your say…

2 thoughts on “Self-care of personnel on site

  1. I have been frustrated for years that the standard assumes that the only injury and first aid would be cuts and plasters, what about burn dressings, bandages and surgical dressings (pads)? These are not available in metal detectable versions, and there is no mention in any of the standards. i have asked auditors and experts for guidance but no-one seems to know. Any help would be welcome

    1. Hi Simon

      My guidance would be that if the dressing is on your hands, then I would apply a glove over the top, to provide the protection it needs.
      If it’s under the general PPC, then I wouldn’t worry as it’s protected by the clothing.
      If it’s not, then I would assess whether the person should be working in a product area while they have to wear the dressing.
      I hope that helps? Would love to know your thoughts?

      Kassy

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