Make sure you do what you know you should.
Policies and Procedures
Policies and procedures in place, whether in a HACCP System, ISO Quality Assurance System or any other documented ‘system’ are there to protect both the business and the owners as well as the employees and customers.
Policies and procedures need to correctly define what the business intends or needs to do and how they do it.
Procedures should also define the record keeping performed in a business.
Procedures in HACCP Systems
In a HACCP system record keeping is paramount where food is being produced. [HACCP or Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point systems are commonly implemented in food producing businesses, however they can be implemented in businesses other than those producing food – eg: engineering or service, and in fact that’s where HACCP began].
The policies and procedures in place and implemented, and the records completed by the business’s employees, are proof of the business taking care in the production of its product or provision of its service.
Use it or lose it:
Make sure that you don’t just have them as a manual on a bookshelf gathering dust, they need to be in place in the culture of the business operation. Policies, procedures and records need to be checked, corrected, changed, updated and in keeping with any standards or statutory requirements. These are working or live documents and records.
Should there be a problem with any of the product produced or service provided, especially where the product is a food product (as people can and do die), the procedures and especially the records will provide proof of the business completing its due diligence or duty of care.
The term “due diligence” means "required carefulness" or "reasonable care".
Many business owners/managers feel that, once their food is consumed or their product has been used or the service performed their job is done and their duty of care or “due diligence” is finished. This is not the case. The duty of care extends long beyond this. In the consumption of food, food poisoning may occur many months into the future, therefore the records of the production of the batch may be needed months later. Should, for instance, the product be an electrical item or building a retaining wall, the completed records may be needed years into the future. The records will show the care taken by the production people and the diligence of the company.
The other thing that these records can show is the length of time that due diligence has been taken by the company. Where a business can show 1, 3, or 8 years of records for ‘say’ batches of food, how much better does the business look in the eyes of the law rather than only showing records for the last batch made. Where a service is performed or an item made, should there be a problem with the product, showing years of records and up to date procedures will go much further to proving the due diligence or reasonable care taken by the company and therefore a better outcome in the eyes of the law.
In our increasingly litigious world, the policies, procedures and records completed by a business are paramount to ensuring its survival should there be an unforeseen problem and should push come to shove in a court of law. Do what you need to do and what you know you should.