Have you ever noticed the little sign above the restroom sink in a restaurant
that reminds employees they must wash their hands before returning to
work? That notice is a requirement set forth by the Division of Hotels
and Restaurants, the rule-making body of the Florida Department of Business
and Professional Regulation. The absence of that sign is a violation of
the 2009 Food Code, the standard imposed by the State of Florida to ensure
public food service businesses keep their food and their premises safe
Thanks to these and many more standards, our local businesses and business
owners are held to an expectation that their place of business and their
products will be safe and clean when we walk in.
Here are some of the most common (and obvious) duties that are expected
of commercial businesses and service proprietors:
--Public lodging and food service establishments must supply adequate and
sanitary facilities to accommodate guests, including offering drinkable
water, toilets, showers, sinks, soap, towels, and adequate sewage and plumbing.
--For public lodging operators, like hotels and rental properties, there
is a requirement to thoroughly and frequently disinfect bed and pillow
garments and sheets, and take effective measures to insure vermin like
bed bugs are exterminated.
--For food producers and agriculturalists, it is prohibited to adulterate
or misbrand food products or labels. It is also illegal to refuse or disrupt
an attempt by state regulators to inspect food production premises or
products. On-site, the presence or evidence of rodents, insects, or vermin
is a direct violation of the 2009 Food Code.
-Indoor smoking is prohibited in any establishment which derives over 10%
of its gross income from the sale of food. The exception to this rule
is establishments that meet the definition of a "stand-alone bar",
which relies on at least 90% of its gross income to come from the sale
and consumption of alcoholic beverages on-premises.
--Businesses are required to keep their premises free of what the law defines
as a "public nuisance". This includes operating an improperly
built or fitted septic system, an unclean or filthy environment where
meat intended for human consumption is prepared, or the improper storage
or "piling up" of garbage and food or animal waste.
--Food service employees are required to undergo state-approved food handler
training, with records of the training kept and available for review.
These businesses must file various safety and cleanliness reports annually
with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and
in addition, allow the Department to conduct their routine inspections
throughout the year.
Another area that business owners need to be aware of is Florida's
safety standards for building and construction. Here are some of the basics:
--Buildings need to be equipped with standard structural features with
basic safety and easy access in mind, like stairways, exit signs, handrails,
and fire sprinklers.
--Further, building owners need to be aware of design flaws or failures
that can unintentionally cause a person to slip, trip, or fall. Dangerous
and unexpected "drop-offs" or uneven flooring, loose or broken
entrance thresholds and door frames, slick surfaces, or abandoned or un-noticed
collections of liquid or substances are common conditions that can lead
to someone hurting themselves on your property. As the property owner,
or business owner,
you may be held liable for any premises injury.
--It's not just customers that businesses are required to maintain
safety standards for. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
regulate the standards for workplace safety. Among its many responsibilities
includes defining protections for workers from workplace hazards (physical
and psychological), managing and presiding over complaints, worker training
and record keeping.
These Federal and state standards for commercial premises and worker safety
and cleanliness are in the public interest. These rules are not a burden
on businesses; rather, they are a framework to ensure safety.