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The Legal Column - September 2012

07 September 2012

The experts at Workplace Law address your legislative and compliance issues.

Freezer temperatures
Q: I was under the impression that freezers need to be kept below -17.4ºC but am not able to find reference to correct storage temperatures. One assumes that different temperatures are related to different recommended storage times. What are the facts?
A: It is good practice to keep frozen food at -18°C or colder. (Foods labelled ‘Quick frozen’ must be stored at -18°C or colder, or displayed at -12°C or colder.) If you are a food handler then food received temperatures have a different minimum frozen temperatures requirement. You can seek further advice from the Food Standards Agency or see the following link that relates to food hygiene and safety: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biosafety/hygienelegislation/index_en.htm
 
Working from home
Q: Is an employer obliged to provide a chair for a part-time home worker? The worker works two days per week from home.
A: You are not obliged to supply home workers with a workstation but should provide staff with suitable advice on the safe use of computers, correct workstation, posture etc. If you decide to supply staff with workstation equipment through local arrangements, e.g. previous employment terms of condition (providing a chair or desk), you are required to ensure that the equipment meets the DSE Regulations, i.e. the chair or desk is stable and adjustable, and a footrest is provided if required. As this member of staff only works two days, it is important to assess if they are considered a user under the DSE Regulations. It will generally be appropriate to classify the person concerned as a user if they:

  • normally use DSE for continuous or near-continuous spells of an hour or more at a time; and
  • use DSE in this way more or less daily; and
  • have to transfer information quickly to or from the DSE.


Check this guidance from the HSE to distribute to your employees: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg36.pdf

Toilet and changing facilities
Q: Is it a legal requirement to provide separate changing and toilet facilities for catering staff and would this apply under Food and hygiene or the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act?
A: Building Regulations state WCs should be separated from any food preparation area (e.g. tea area, kitchen or canteen) by a door, and guidance from the Food Standard Agency clearly states that toilets must not lead directly on to any room where food is handled, and must be adequately ventilated (www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/startingup.pdf).

Under health and safety law, more specifically the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, you have to provide adequate toilet and washing facilities for your employees. You must also ensure you consider the needs of those with disabilities. Download more information free from the HSE at: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l24.htm

If you have a question that you would like addressed in this column please email it to the editor at tim.fryer@imlgroup.co.uk



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