Karen Lukic, Health Promotion Specialist, Environmental Health Department
Phil Wong, Manager, Environmental Health Department
Environmental Health E-Learning Courses: Food Safety, Safe Water, and Infection Control
For several years the WECHU has provided in-class training opportunities for food safety, recreational water safety and infection control best practices. Our educational materials have been used as the gold standard by the Ministry of Health and other local boards of health. Early in 2019, the Environmental Health Department enhanced these training options by releasing free e-learning training modules for food safety, recreational water safety and infection control best practices. The training materials contain updates to new regulations that were published in 2018.
Food Handlers Certification Course
The new O. Reg 493/17: Food Premises requires at least one certified food handler present during all hours of operation in any food premises in Ontario. The regulatory changes resulted in a significant increase in demand for the Food Handlers Training courses in our region. Locally, there are almost 3000 food premises that are routinely inspected 1-3 times a year. The Environmental Health Department certified a total of 1942 food handlers in 2018. To date in 2019, the Environmental Health Department has certified an additional 1540 food handlers, with 78% completing certification through the online course. In class courses are still available on site, and to those that may require additional support from Certified Public Health Inspectors.
Pool and Spa Operator Training Course
The amended O. Reg. 565: Recreational Water combines two regulations and a guidance document together to form a new set of standards for operators and owners of recreational water facilities. Recreational water facilities include swimming pools, whirlpools, spas, splash pads and water parks. There is a considerable amount of information that pool operators must know to provide a safe environment. There are close to 160 recreational water facilities in Windsor and Essex County (WEC). The WECHU’s comprehensive online e-learning course was updated and launched in the spring of 2019. Over 70 certificates of completion have been issued in the last 4 months.
Personal Service Settings Course
The new O. Reg 136/18: Personal Service Settings formalized requirements for owners and operators of personal service settings. There are a total of 485 personal service settings in WEC. The majority are barber shops/hair salons (298), followed by aesthetics/nail salons (126), premises that provide tattoo or micropigmentation services (34), tanning salons and beauty salons (27). With the introduction of this new regulation, there was a need to provide education on a variety of topics. There were no existing training courses created by other health units after the launch of the new regulation, and as such, the Environmental Health Department created an online course independently. The course was launched in the summer of 2019 and is made up of 11 core learning modules. These modules contain detailed information about the regulatory requirements, in addition to service specific best practices.
The Environmental Health Department is currently evaluating all three e-learning training modules. We are reviewing demographics, test scores and feedback collected from students to develop future public health interventions for our local community.
Utilizing data from the Community Needs Assessment 2019 Update report, inspection data, and surveys conducted by the Environmental Health Department, our team will be translating specific e-learning modules to other languages including Arabic, French, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish to better meet the needs of our priority populations.