Food poisoning is quite a common occurrence in Australia. Furthermore, there are an estimated 4.2 million cases of food poisoning reported in Australia alone. This means that it is a factor that every organisation should consider. Nonetheless, most organizations today prepare meals for their employees in the office rather than allowing employees to go out for their meals.
This increases the risk of food poisoning emergencies at the workplace. Especially if the work health and safety measures are not followed.
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning simply refers to any illness that comes as a result of contamination of any food by a virus, parasites, toxins or bacteria. Generally, food poisoning is not that alarming, and it might go by itself. In short, the degree of food poisoning is what will determine the measures to be taken.
Often, it will be one employee complaining of various food poisoning-related symptoms. However, there happen situations when 2-5 employees are experiencing symptoms. Accordingly, this becomes a food poisoning emergency.
Symptoms of food poisoning.
As it is with various diseases, symptoms may differ from person to person, but the common symptoms of food poisoning are;
- Stomach pains.
- Fever, chills or sweating.
If the affected employees portray any of the above symptoms, it means that there has been a food a food poisoning occurrence at the workplace.
However, research has it that most employees will avoid reporting their condition to the management not unless it is a common issue that leaks its way to the management.
Causes of food poisoning.
Food is contaminated at any point in its preparation. This means that food may be contaminated during processing, production, or when cooking. The common causes of food poisoning are, therefore;
- Handling of cooking materials with dirty hands.
- Handling foodstuff with un-sterilized hands.
- Consumption of expired food.
- Serving food at the wrong temperature.
- Not cooking food at the recommended temperature or length.
The sources of contamination are salmonella, listeria, viruses, bacteriology, parasites, toxins and E.Coli.
Most cases of food poisoning can actually be solved by giving first aid to the victim of food poisoning. Besides, this is mainly if it’s one employee who is suffering from any of the symptoms of food poisoning.
They might have consumed something on their way to work such as meat, sandwich or dairy products. Remember, in most instances, the symptoms of food poisoning may take long to show, depending on the source of contamination.
Responding to Food poisoning emergency.
In Australia, every organisation must have a food poisoning emergency plan. A document written down in compliance with the Work Health and Safety standards. This is to help the organization take control of the situation and reduce the chances of spreading the infection.
For minor cases, the food emergency plan should involve first aid measures. Thus, this means that the management should set up measures to train its employees. The is done by giving first aid to a fellow employee or visitor at the workplace.
To make the first aid administration better, the organization has to come up with an emergency room (ER). As a consequence, the patient is isolated from the others. It should be equipped with the approved first aid kit for the same.If the symptoms of food poisoning get to another level, advanced measures have to be taken.
Symptoms of food poisoning that show that extra measure have to be taken.
+ Firstly, prolonged vomiting up to 2 days.
+ Prolonged diarrhea for up to 3 days.
+ Stains of blood in diarrhea/vomit.
+ Muscle weakness.
+ Double vision.
+ Signs of dehydration.
+ Lastly, high body temperature-over 38.7 °C
In such a case of emergency food poisoning, the organization should have structures in place to respond and recover.
First thing first, the emergency plan should contain the response measures. Factors such as provision for an emergency room. Also, first aid (training and administration) and emergency contacts of a local medical emergency team.
Recovery measure to be taken.
+ Call in a local emergency medical team for advanced treatment.
+ Secondly, review the various cases of food poisoning to tell what the issue might be.
+ Make a list of the served foods within a span of 72 hours.
+ Investigate the source of food, how it was stored and prepared.
+ Set up measures to avoid the chances of a future food poisoning emergency.
Measures to prevent a food poisoning emergency from happening or recurring.
+ Encourage personal hygiene at the workplace, including washing hands before and after a meal.
+ Installation of a refrigerator in the staff room.
+ Furthermore, keeping kitchens and kitchen equipment such as ovens, bench tops and microwaves clean.
+ Provision of clean utensils to workers. If your company deals with snacks, provide tongs.
+ Provision of sinks and draining boards with detergents.
+ Hire a professional team for the production of foods. This is because they understand the necessary measure to be adhered to and reduce chances of contamination.
+ Make sure the Food Standards Australia are complied with.
P + rovision of bins and making sure they are emptied regularly.
Food poisoning emergency may be a rare occurrence at the workplace. However, this is the reason you should be ready to deal with it when it comes. In some circumstances, food poisoning has been reported to result in death. Therefore, a swift response is recommended.