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Optimising safety standards during your peak periods

By Food Alert’s Technical Services MD, Peter Christopher-Ohrt

Any reputable hospitality business has watertight processes in place, whereby employees are fully trained and understand what is expected of them, but what about temporary staff who are only with you for a short period during your busiest trading times – like Valentine’s and Mother’s Day? In our experience having a clear contingency plan in place is key, so start 2020 as you mean to go on.

1. Keep it simple. If you haven’t the time to train temporary staff to the same high levels as your permanent team, make sure that you cover all the key basics - emergency procedures, allergen control and sickness reporting procedures, etc – and keep records. Consider online training too, because it’s flexible and staff can do it in their own time.

2. Supervision. From the temporary employees’ perspective, it’s so much harder to ask questions when the venue is really busy, so at Food Alert we recommend that all new staff are buddied up, have regular short catch-ups with supervisors and initially given duties that are easy to supervise.

3. Plain Talking. Communication is vital because some temporary staff will have English as their second language, so make your food hygiene and health & safety notes easy to understand. Using graphics instead of words and/or buddying up with a member of staff who speaks the same language are great ways of overcoming the language hurdle.

4. Keep it healthy. Coughs, colds and sickness bugs are commonplace and your teams must know about informing their Manager if suffering from food poisoning symptoms and not returning to work until 48 hours after they’ve stopped. Essential food hygiene notes should also be signed to demonstrate they understand your procedures and expectations.

5. Keep it risk free. Identify your high-risk food processes and dangerous equipment and make sure they are communicated to your temporary staff and they sign documentation to confirm they have understood. Appointing ‘allergen champions’ within your team is recommended, so that agency staff know who they can turn to if asked about allergens.

Ultimately, it all comes down to communication, supervision and training – and if you invest time up front to make sure that temporary staff are also fully briefed on key policies and procedures, it will be worth it in the long run.

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