Published: 1 Sep 2015

1.          Introduction

This Code of Practice is aimed at providing guidance to operations within a residential setting. Viral Gastroenteritis commonly occurs in such circumstances and rarely originates from the kitchen. It might therefore need adapting to local circumstances. Without doubt there is a serious risk to our customer’s health caused by sick staff working on with a misguided sense of loyalty to the company. The following procedure is a guide by which staff must rigidly conform, if they are to diminish the risk of such a major epidemic illness. It is a general Code of Practice which can apply to most working environments.

2. Types of Illness

The following are more common illnesses which may be spread within the unit:-


  1. Norovirus or Norwalk infection (winter vomiting disease)
  2. Rota virus
  3. Salmonella Infection (food poisoning)
  4. Viral Meningitis
  5. Shigella or S.sonnie Dysentery


3. Personal Hygiene


It is an offence for any food handler, this includes all kitchen staff, storekeepers, bar staff, restaurant and housekeeping staff, to neglect to notify their supervisor of notifiable conditions such as diarrhoea, vomiting and infected skin surfaces.


 4. Notice to Staff:

4.1    All Staff must report to their Supervisor any stomach disorders, skin complaints, eye and ear discharges. All staff with diarrhoea or vomiting must alert management of their condition immediately.


4.2    Management will ensure that the individual visits the doctor at the first opportunity. The staff member will provide his/her Supervisor with the diagnosis and date that they expect to return to work. Faecal samples may be required.


4.3    When visiting the doctor, the staff member will state that he/she is a food handler and seek advice as to when it may be appropriate to return to work.


4.4    Under no circumstances will a food handler who is suffering symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting or chronic stomach disorder be allowed to handle any food. The minimum period of work will be 48hrs after the symptoms have finished.






  1. Action to be Taken on Outbreak of Illness Amongst Staff

If six or more staff members throughout the unit appear to display similar symptoms, the following procedures will be adopted:-


5.1    The Manager will inform the Consultant Environmental Health Practitioner with the following information:-

  1. Number of staff ill
  2. Symptoms
  3. Jobs of staff
  4. Whether any customers are ill


5.2    A 'Hit Squad' will be organised to assist in the thorough cleaning and sanitising of affected areas, including toilets, rooms and areas where staff and customers have been sick. Ensure surfaces commonly touched by hand such as door handles, light switches, toilet flushes, taps and handrails are given high priority when cleaning and sanitising. The equipment used when cleaning and sanitising must also be included.

 6. General Hygiene

All staff members are to be mustered and informed of the problem and of the absolute importance of maintaining very high levels of hygiene throughout the unit.


All usual cleaning routines are to be maintained, adequately supervised and increased wherever possible.


Gastroenteritis caused by the Norwalk virus is highly contagious. Vomiting is the most imfectious route of transfer from person to person, although transfer of the virus from fomites by hand and subsequently to the infected persons mouth, is probably the most common route. Hence the need to ensure surfaces commonly touched by hand are given a high priority during an outbreak.


In the control of an outbreak, the important points are:


  1. Increase all hygiene standards wherever and whenever possible.
  2. Locate and safely dispose of any vomit.
  3. Restrict the movements of affected people.


  1. Action by Personnel

All staff members told to report any symptoms, however minimal.


All sick staff to be placed off duty until all symptoms have cleared and for a minimum of 48 hours.


All staff, particularly those affected, to be fastidious over personal hygiene.


Staff to immediately report any soiled areas discovered.


Members of 'Hit Squad' to shower immediately after duty and before going to staff rooms. Sealable plastic bags to be available for disposal of used boiler suits.


Notices to be placed in toilets requesting regular hand washing and the reporting of any dirty areas discovered in toilets.


  1. Action by Customers

Customers are to be informed of the position and advised to continue their usual high standards of personal hygiene. They are to be encouraged to report to their Doctor if ill in any way.


Notices to be placed in toilets requesting regular hand washing and the reporting of any dirty areas discovered in toilets.


Sick customers requested to remain in their rooms and not to socialise with other customers until all nausea and vomiting abated.


Stool samples to be collected for investigation.


Encouraged to be fastidious about personal hygiene. The importance of regular thorough hand washing must be stressed.


To be reassured of the mild nature and short duration of the illness.


  1. Organising Actions of the 'Hit Squad'

All surfaces to be regularly cleaned with sanitising solution at a strength specified by the cleaning chemical supplier. Particular attention to be paid to door knobs, hand rails, restaurant chairs and touchable surfaces in public areas.


All sink wastes and drains in showers and baths to be regularly treated with a sanitising solution.


All communal toilet and washing facilities to be cleaned and sanitised at least every three hours while customers are about and also immediately when soiled by vomit. Regular patrols of all such facilities to ensure cleanliness. They are to be closed prior to cleaning, if found soiled. Cleaning to be done by a specifically detailed 'Hit Squad'. They are to wear full long arm disposable plastic gloves and disposable boiler suits. Gloves to be changed after completion of each task and boiler suits at the end of each shift and whenever soiled. Discarded gloves and boiler suits to be sealed in disposable plastic bags, prior to transportation and ultimate disposal. Operatives to scrub and wash hands at completion of each task.

All surfaces to be sanitised as follows:


  1. a) Thoroughly cleaned with sanitising solution.
  2. b) Leave sanitising solution in situ 5 minutes.
  3. c) Wipe with clean soapy water.


Particular attention to both surfaces of toilet seats, taps, including insides and any other surfaces which have been contaminated by vomit.


Toilet rolls and paper towels to be changed.


Soap dispenser replenished with bactericidal soap. More frequent filling of soap dispensers may be required at this time.


  1. Action to be Taken Within Rooms of Affected Customers and Staff

All rooms of affected customers/staff to be identified as soon as possible and the Manager informed who will activate 'Hit Squad'. They are to wear disposable long arm gloves and boiler suits and change and dispose of same as already documented.


All surfaces to be cleaned in standard manner.


Bed linen and towels to be changed. Dirty linen bagged and sealed prior to moving to separate storage in laundry prior to washing at 80˚C.


Soiled bed spreads and similar materials to be bagged, sealed and transported for appropriate cleansing.


Any vomit bags found to be bagged and sealed in disposable plastic bags prior to transportation and disposal. Sealable, disposable, plastic coated vomit bags to be supplied.


No used linen of any sort to be left in corridors, especially near to food areas or air conditioning fan rooms.


  1. Food Areas including Bars and Kitchens

Frequent kitchen, bar and restaurant rounds by senior personnel to ensure all practices are correct.


NB:     Use of plastic gloves, refrigeration and dishwasher/glasswasher temperatures, sanitisation of all work surfaces, correct food preparation and storage.


All food/beverage handlers to both wash and dry hands thoroughly before commencing duty. Adequate facilities to be provided. More frequent filling of soap dispensers may be required at this time.


Cold buffets to be regularly inspected to ensure correct food preparation, storage and service. These should be self service and tongs must be used for all food service by staff. If there are insufficent staff members to serve the food, buffets should be discontinued.


All peanuts, canapés and other such snacks to be withdrawn from bar areas.


Paper napkins to be used in restaurant and correctly disposed of immediately after use.


All cutlery, crockery and glassware to be correctly washed, stored and utilised.

Vomit on carpeted surfaces to be covered with a sanitiser, left in situ, and then cleaned up.



  1. Cleaning and Disinfection

Particular attention to be directed to the disposal of vomit as this is the most important material for the spread of Norwalk.


Any vomit discovered to be covered with sanitiser, roped off and the 'Hit Squad' activated.


On solid surfaces it is to be covered with adsorbent granules and then sanitiser, scooped into plastic bags and the area sanitised. The shovel and scoop to be washed in a strong sanitising solution. Plastic bag to be sealed prior to transportation and disposal.


Vomit on carpeted surfaces to be covered with a adsorbent granules and then sanitiser, left in situ, and then cleaned up.



  1. Other Areas

Regular cleaning of air conditioning system to be continued.


Sufficient spares are to be carried. The use of re-circulated air to be avoided if possible. Uptake in toilets and washrooms to be sufficient enough to ensure a negative air flow out of space into alleyways.