Wheelwright Consultants selected as "Expert Witness"
Over the past year Wheelwright Consultants has been selected to provide an "expert" opinion in a number of cases where hotel or restaurant guests have been injured.The cases that we have been involved with include: an instance where a customer sustained a serious burn that resulted in a permanent scar from an overly hot beverage; where a guest was permanently injured when the chair he was sitting in collapsed; an instance where a guest sustained a permanent facial injury when he slipped getting out of the bathtub in a hotel; and a situation where an improperly located stage resulted in a guest with an impairment falling off the stage and suffering a serious injury. We have also been consulted on in a case where a guest died as a result of choking on food where no one in the business was choke-saver trained. (REMEMBER - In Massachusetts if you have a food license and can seat more than 25 people you must have someone on premises who is choke-saver trained anytime you are serving food!)
Although we can't discuss the specifics of any case, we can state that in each of these cases there were allegations that the hotel or restaurant failed to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance or operation of the business. All of the injuries sustained by the alleged victims were serious resulting in permanent scarring, a permanent disability or death. Even if the hotel or restaurant is ultimately found not to have been at fault, they will sustain serious expenses related to their legal defense and may have a serious negative impact on their reputation and business.
We urge you to check your policies and procedures to make sure your business is safe and your employees know how to respond in case of a guest injury.
NEW MASSACHUSETTS' Sick Pay Regulations
As of July 1, 2015 all Massachusetts' employers must have a sick leave program for their employees. The specifics of the program are based upon the average number of employees per week. Employers with 10 or fewer employees per week must allow the employees to have unpaid sick leave while those with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.
Here is a summary of the regulations:
- Employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
- Employees can earn and use up to 40 hours of sick leave a year.
- Employees can roll over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave from one year to the next.
- Employees begin earning sick leave on their first day of employment, but may not use if during the first 90 days of employment.
- Paid sick leave can be used in increments of one (1) hour when the employee, their child, spouse, or parent(s) are sick, for a medical appointment, or to address the effects of domestic violence.
- Employees must be paid their regular hourly wage for the sick wage, except for tipped employees who must be paid the State minimum wage.
- Use of sick leave for purposes other than those listed above may result in disciplinary action.
- Except in cases of emergencies, employees must notify their employer in advance of using the sick leave.
- Employees who miss three (3) consecutive shifts or who are sick within the two (2) weeks prior to leaving a job may be required to provide medical documentation of their illness.
- Employers may not retaliate against employees who use their earned sick leave.
Press Release--Wheelwright Consultants Completes Foodborne Illness
Investigation and Recall Response Training
Eric F. Nusbaum, founder and principal of Wheelwright
Consultants, recently completed training in Foodborne Illness Investigation and
Recall Response given by the National Environmental Health Association in
Southborough, MA. Participants in the program came from a wide variety of
backgrounds: chain and independent restaurants, grocery stores, health
departments, and food safety consultants. More than two dozen participated in
the full-day program. The training was given in conjunction with the
Massachusetts Restaurant Association as part of the Associationís commitment to
improving the relationship between food safety regulators and operators and as
part of the Associationís on-going commitment to protect the health of the
Nusbaum, who founded the hospitality management and food
safety consulting firm in 1995, was the only participant from Western
Massachusetts attending the program.
Asked about the program, Nusbaum said that the presenters were very good
and that they provided participants with a wealth of materials and forms that
would be useful in investigating a foodborne illness outbreak or in working
with food processors to handle a product recall. Nusbaum said that Wheelwright
Consultants is working with a number of individuals and firms that are starting
to produce specialty food products in Western Massachusetts and that having
this training and information would be extremely valuable in the unlikely situation
where one of these producers would have to institute a recall of products.
Information provided in the program indicates that the number one reason that a
producer would recall a food product is the undeclared presence of an allergen
or due to a labeling error. While food products may be recalled when there is
evidence that they could cause an illness, this is actually the case in a
minority of recalls.
The program also reviewed the steps to be taken when
investigating a reported foodborne illness, including taking case histories of
those involved, conducting an environmental assessment of the business
implicated in the outbreak, proper epidemiologic procedures, and implementation
of corrective actions.