As we see the final rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) begin to roll out, with effective dates beginning at the end of this year, one thing is common between these published rules and even with GFSI – your training is a crucial piece to the FSMA and GFSI audit puzzle.
We’ve all gone through excruciating training before. You know the kind…where you sit in a cold, stale room with a note pad, a pen, some paper handouts, and a not-so-engaging Power Point presentation. The problem with this type of training setup is that it doesn’t allow for open collaboration, it doesn’t engage your audience, and it doesn’t resonate as well. And when it comes down to the wire with your auditor asking questions of your employees (and they can ask questions of any employee), you want to make sure your fellow colleagues know their stuff!
So how do you ensure your number one asset—your employees—are well prepared for what might happen? It can be really intimidating/stressful for employees to see a bunch of people walking through the plant with white coats on and with an auditor.
The only way to really help employees feel more comfortable is to prep them with comprehensive training.
For example, once you’ve completed your training, prep your employees and fellow colleagues for possible interviews by providing them with common interview questions.
Since anyone within the company is capable of being interviewed, including key office positions, auditors expect all employees in the facility to know key information regarding food safety and your audit code. No one is exempt from these interviews, and it basically comes down to what the auditor feels like doing that day, so make sure everyone is prepared.
What should you expect from an auditor interview?
Some of the hardest parts to preparing for an audit are integrating a positive culture in regards to food safety. This does include employee behavior. To help prepare them for what they can expect, let employees know auditors are trained to be professional, ethical and courteous when conducting audits and interviews.
Additionally, they are also required to interview employees to ensure:
- Proper employee training has been implemented
- Management commitment is evident and proper resources are allocated to support the food safety program
- Adequate information has been trained to all employees in the facility
- Key positions have completed additional training topics related to their job skills or requirements
Common Interview Questions
How do you prepare employees?
Training. There is no substitute for a comprehensive, documented employee training program. Auditors will look at what your training topics were, whether or not you do training with all employees, and examples of how you handle training for temps.
But training doesn’t have to be boring. Try to switch up the format if you can, and remember to include images for real life situations to help emphasis key points.
Here are a few ways to liven things up a bit:
Have a Quiz
Nothing prepares you for the final exam quite like a quiz! Quizzes help to put the information in front of your audience and it forces them to think through the different options, putting what they know into practice. To make things even more “exciting”, try holding a quiz at the beginning of the training session to see how well their knowledge improves throughout the course. Another added bonus would be to award prizes for those with the highest scores or those who saw the most improvement.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be Jeopardy! solely about Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), but this particular topic does offer a wide variety of categories and questions. The fun part about using a Jeopardy! style game is it allows your trainees to be part of a team and discuss the potential answers among their teammates, encouraging collaboration. If you need ideas on how to set up something like cGMP Jeopardy!, this site offers a great starting template.
In addition to the group activity listed above, it might be a good break in instruction to put together various group challenges based on what was just covered. For example, if you’re coving proper uniform attire, have a challenge for teams to see who can put on their hairnets, beard nets, smocks, aprons, and gloves the fastest.
This one is more for after the training. As a follow-up practice, ask your trainees to interview coworkers from other departments to help foster collaboration and ensure the material covered actually resonated with employees. The interview questions can include questions specific to job roles, but should also include questions they might not hear on a regular basis.
During certain sections of training, engage your audience by asking them to provide you with scenarios they might actually come across while on the job. This will help to make the information presented stick, and allows you to walk through a real life example.
Engaging Training Materials
The materials used during training don’t have to just be printed out presentation slides. Try switching it up by handing out more visually stimulating materials like infographics, photos of examples, and checklists. Additionally, if you can, try to include some videos of your company’s employees following certain procedures covered in training.
Training is key to passing audits and it must be ongoing and well-documented to ensure evidence is available for auditors. Auditors will know how well training is done simply by the interview results.
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