TRSA Unveils Virtual Inspections for Hygienically Clean
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented TRSA and its members with unique challenges, but it’s also created opportunities to gain a competitive edge. The increased public awareness and understanding of textiles as “hygienically clean” has boosted demand for Hygienically Clean Certifications, particularly in the food service and hospitality sectors. Plant inspections are required to achieve certification. However, pandemic-related limitations on travel have made such inspections difficult to perform on-site. In response, TRSA is introducing a virtual inspection program!
TRSA worked with the Laundry Design Group LLC, Las Vegas, in developing the HyC-VIP program. The company is leveraging technology that allows for no diminution or compromising of the quality of the certification. The Laundry Design Group will oversee the HyC inspection. The firm is widely recognized for excellence in evaluating businesses’ quality assurance (QA) guideline compliance. CEO Bob Corfield has more than 30 years’ industry experience, including performing inspections for TRSA’s Clean Green and Hygienically Clean certification programs. Corfield is also a certified ISO QMS Lead Auditor with a HACCP designation.
The Virtual Inspection Process (VIP) process will be as rigorous and comprehensive as the on-site inspection program. The inspector will continue to grade the plant against the same standards and criteria as they would normally. The inspector will carefully examine the QA manual and ensure that it is, as Corfield says, “a living, breathing document” that meets all the certification requirements. All protocols and procedures must be documented, then sent to the inspector and displayed on a virtual tour. Samples will be collected under the inspector’s observation, as usual, and plant personnel will send them to a TRSA-approved third-party laboratory for testing.
The VIP meeting program will still collect and assess evidence of compliance with the standards. The only difference is that now modern communication technology will replace face-to-face meetings. The VIP document review, technical interview and the physical inspection will be augmented by a video plant tour, with follow-on photo gallery submissions as directed by the inspector. While TRSA is in no way compromising the standards to which a plant is held during the virtual inspection, there are a few differences in the methods by which these standards will be reviewed and validated.
Instead of sending an inspector to the plant for an in-person tour, there will be a video conference – using software such as FaceTime, GoToMeeting or Zoom. To expedite the meetings, document review of the QA manual should be completed in advance of the virtual inspection. Click here to see a full list of the virtual-inspection requirements for healthcare (TRSA’s website lists requirements for all HC programs). To facilitate a VIP meeting, the plant must have: a stable internet connection and an electronic copy of its QA manual. Key managers also must have completed the online e-learning course. All relevant people that the inspector needs to interview also must be available during the meeting.
Plants will qualify for certification once the facility passes the inspection and approved sample results are received from the lab. Once safe travel resumes, an inspector will schedule a physical validation visit to the plant. This inspection will only confirm the findings of the virtual inspection, so it will be brief compared to the usual 3-4-hour on-site inspection.
The fee for TRSA’s Virtual Inspection program will remain the same as it was before this program was launched. However, the total cost to plants will be split, as the plant usually is billed for travel expenses for the inspector following the visit. Since the virtual inspection will not occur on-site, the plant will not pay fees such as airfare or hotel costs until the on-site validation inspection occurs.
While the introduction of virtual inspections is primarily a pivot in response to COVID-19, there are potentially broader applications. For example, remote inspections present an excellent opportunity to facilitate international inspections with a highly qualified inspection team.