Many business sectors require assurance of sanitary conditions, either to meet regulatory or industry standards, or to manage the risks of negative outcomes from not meeting minimum sanitation goals. These include health care sectors, medical device sector, food sectors, hospitality sectors or any other facility where employees or customers could come in contact with microbes on clothing, linen, equipment, work surfaces and other media.
Defining Underlying Business Risk
Some businesses rely on an external or internal certification to demonstrate they have adequately controlled risks associated with sanitation. Internal or external auditors will often review these certifications, noting the presence or absence of a current certificate. However, the business risk to be controlled is not simply the absence of a certificate, but the presence of less than sanitary conditions (i.e., not meeting the objective of maintaining sanitation above established criteria).
Sanitation Certification Self-Audit Checklist
To evaluate the underlying business risk and controls, the review of a certificate should be followed up with a review of the underlying data and control systems. Below are some suggested self-audit questions which could be used to assist in evaluating the business control systems in place related to sanitation certifications:
- Is a formal certification document required by either regulation or company policy? Does the certificate contain all required elements? Is it current?
- Is the entity issuing the certification independent of the process? i.e, is the certificate issued by the same company or department performing the sanitation?
- Have quantifiable criteria been established?
- Are underlying data available for review and do they support the certification?
- How were samples collected? Does sample collection procedure ensure representative sampling of the materials or media being certified?
- How are samples tested? Has an accepted laboratory method been used? Has appropriate chain of custody been documented?
- Is the testing entity independent of the sanitation process? i.e, is testing done by the same company performing the sanitation or providing sanitation chemicals being evaluated?
By evaluating the overall system in place to ensure sanitation, rather than just the presence of a certificate, the internal auditor can provide much better insights on the reliability of the system to ensure that sanitation goals are being achieved consistently.
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