The Black Bag Audit

In order to maintain a clean environment and tidy workplace, whether that be in a commercial kitchen, processing plant, factory, or any other aspect of the food industry, there must be a system and set of procedures that enable every member of staff to contribute to diminishing the likelihood of potential hazards.

These can vary from dangerous handling of kitchen tools, inappropriate storage and placement of items (which can cause cross-contamination) or incorrect usage of electrical equipment - to name just a few. All these things could represent a danger for everyone’s health and safety. What’s more, not only are the dangers of catering and hospitality controlled by law, following the rules imposed by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, but also by controlling them you are making sure that your business is more efficient.

Reducing unnecessary risks doesn’t always mean submitting your staff to complex standard operating procedures, such as HACCP plans, external quality control checks and maintenance schedules. It is often thought that the more controlling techniques you adopt, such as the ones mentioned above, the safer your business will be from hazards. Whilst they are important, these procedures do not always guarantee effectiveness; therefore, we suggest you adopt a simple trick that is often ignored: the black bag audit.

What’s the black bag audit all about?

Incorporating the black bag audit system can save you a lot of time and money, since all you will need is a black bag and a motivated member of staff with high attention to detail. Then, the process is extremely easy: the designated worker performs a meticulous inspection of the work area, whilst carrying the black bag, and throws everything into it that is considered rubbish or other objects that shouldn’t be there. The rule is simple: foreign objects are thrown into the rubbish bag and then inspected to see what kinds of hazards could be occurring in your premises.

Should you promote black bag audits in your industry?

Absolutely yes. Whilst this might seem like a way to shame employees and expose their mistakes, black bag auditing is rather about pointing out what can be changed in your workplace’s routine. Use it as an educational tool, rather than a way to reprimand people.

What’s more, it is of the utmost importance to make sure that everyone complies with rigorous standards and works towards a safer and tidier environment. By maintaining a clean workplace, everyone will be able to quickly notice any foreign objects that need to be removed urgently. Adopting this system will not only make employees work towards an extra (and very important!) goal, but they will also learn what constitutes a physical hazard or potential health and safety violation - which will help your business be more prepared for external inspections too.

Adopting black bag audits can be a good way to indicate if extra training sessions need to be carried out (for example, the unlikely event that a member of staff reports the presence of the same objects very often might be a useful indicator).

Perhaps the most important reason for a black bag audit is because they ensure that not only the workplace protected, but the customer is safe from hazards too. Put differently, finding the presence of foreign matters in food that goes directly to the customer can cause serious injuries and harm - and this, once again, can and should be prevented through the adoption of black bag audits.

How black bag audits will impact your business

Amongst the positive effects of black bag audits, we can depict the following:
  • Ensuring that good practices are maintained.
  • Reducing foreign body complaints.
  • Valuing responsibility and proactivity.

Why not incorporate a black bag audit into your workplace? You might be surprised what you find in the first sessions, and hopefully after a while your team will be much more effective at keeping foreign objects out of the workplace.

Posted on 23/05/2018