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Personal service health inspection records now online

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Residents with plans to use personal service businesses can now check out safety compliance records with the click of a mouse.

Results of inspections under the Durham Public Health Unit’s Know Before You Go program, launched in 2016, are now available online.

The program is similar to DineSafe Durham, which regulates food establishments in the region.

Personal service businesses are either given a pass (green), conditional pass (yellow) or fail (red), that they must display somewhere near an entrance.

A conditional pass occurs when there are a number of infractions, with the understanding they will be rectified immediately.

According to Mandi Theberge, a public health inspector in the health protection division, a fail occurs when a business has an infraction that poses an immediate risk to human health.

“It’s either within the entire facility or a specific service that needs immediate correction,” Theberge says.

If a business receives a fail, regional staff will follow up within one to three business days. The business cannot reopen until addressing issues to the satisfaction of the the health department.

Depending on the nature of the business, inspectors look at a wide variety of factors.

“Basically our inspections focus on infection prevention and control,” Theberge says.

“Sterilization is a significant element. There are huge impacts if something is not sterile.”

Theberge recalls the past closure of a tattoo facility that wasn’t sterilizing equipment properly.

“We looked back at the records, and what ended up happening was there were missing results [of the facility’s sterilization records],” she explains. “They were operating with sporadic failure of its sterilizers, which can lead to the transfer of blood-borne diseases.”

The operator of the facility faced charges and the business was closed.

Officials also review basic sanitation and cleaning processes.

Non-compliance can come with hefty consequences.

Recently-updated fines can range anywhere from $65 to $465 dollars.

Inspectors can also lay provincial charges which can result in larger fines and in extreme cases, even jail time.

“There are always combinations of different charges. It can add up quickly. We are hoping this will be a real deterrent,” Theberge says.

As of July 1, the public health units are bound to release inspection results online under provincial legislation.

Theberge notes that this was the plan all along with the Know Before You Go program.

“It was always our intent to provide online disclosure. It’s very important that people know that they can access information online within just a few clicks,” she notes. “We are able to empower the public to make informed decisions.”

Theberge says there is quite a low non-compliance rate in Durham Region.

“In our on-site program, we are about at five per cent for issuing yellow signs. Our reds are still on the low side, and are really prompted by emergency type situations such as loss of power, flood, fire or sewage backup,” she says.

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