Like many of us, in the last few months, CEO Tom Anderson has grown accustomed to carefully transferring takeout dishes from containers to plates before enjoying his meal. But unlike most, he has the inside scoop on which establishments are best handling food sanitation across the country since the start of the pandemic. And you better believe he’s not taking any chances when it comes to contact-based delivery.
At 360training, a regulatory-approved online training and certification company, employees are working to make food handling safer for customers and hospitality workers alike. Their Health and Sanitation Safety Awareness program keeps food and beverage businesses up to date on sanitation protocols to lower the risk of disease contagion. The training isn’t limited to reducing the spread of COVID-19 alone; It covers aerosolized spread as well as surfaced-based spread of all germs.
As our collective knowledge of the virus evolves, so does HASSA. According to Anderson, the team is continually monitoring updates from the CDC and other leading health organizations to incorporate into their plans. The one thing he’s not as concerned about? When the industry will mandate such programs.
“In this case, we thought it was irresponsible to wait for regulations requiring the training,” he said. “We wanted to do our part now to help reduce the spread of the virus.”
Tell me a little bit about your background. What brought you to 360training and how has it evolved since you started?
I’ve run a number of companies that have focused on education or compliance. 360training was a great opportunity to bring those experiences together. At 360training, we offer online education to help millions of people qualify for better jobs while training them to make sure employees and customers are safer, healthier and more financially secure.
I came to 360training as part of the team that acquired the company in early 2018. For the first 18 years of its existence, 360training had amassed a large portfolio of regulatory-approved content. Since then, we have made changes to strengthen the values and culture that guide the company, improved our approach to working with regulators, and professionalized the operations of the business.
We have also made investments in improving the conditions for employees as well as upgrading the professional talent in the organization. It is really a new company with a great set of historical assets.
Tell me about the Health and Sanitation Safety Awareness (HASSA) program. How did it come about?
The HASSA program is a direct result of COVID-19. Most of the regulated health and safety training today does not adequately address the spread of contagious diseases in our work environments or in how we buy and consume food. The program was the brainchild of our COO Samantha Montalbano, who worked with our CMO Ryan Linders and our product development team to put together a certification program that can cross multiple industries.
The certification program focuses on helping businesses improve their health and sanitation training to lower the risk of contagious disease spread among employees and to customers. This program has highlighted the important role we each play in the spread of diseases. We decided to initially focus on the food and beverage industry given they have been hit so hard by the pandemic and we all still need to buy food.
This is not about guessing or politics or individual rights.’’
This program isn’t part of your company’s normal offerings. What hurdles did you face in rolling it out because of that? How did you work to overcome them?
We have historically focused on regulated training. In this case, we thought it was irresponsible to wait for regulations requiring the training. We wanted to do our part now to help reduce the spread of the virus and help businesses operate safely in this new environment.
Can you give us a peek into the training itself?
We based all of the training on the leading science. This is not about guessing or politics or individual rights. It is training based on science to lower the risk of disease spread.
If we are all informed, we can then make our own decisions about where and how to shop as well as where and how to work. In many ways, the biggest surprise may be that it is not too difficult to substantially lower the risk. The key is being disciplined and consistent in your actions.
What does being HASSA certified mean? Why might a business want to become HASSA certified?
Being HASSA certified means that a business has trained its employees to lower the spread of contagious diseases. We believe all businesses should want to become HASSA certified because it is the responsible thing to do. However, it’s also economical.
Consumers are likely to become more focused on buying from safer businesses. A business is also more likely to attract and retain high-quality employees if they take their employees’ safety seriously.
How do you plan on measuring the success of the program?
Our goal is for businesses to incorporate health and sanitation safety awareness training into the normal course of operation, much like a business incorporates other basic training into their operations.
Ideally, various industry regulatory bodies will integrate the training into the required training for critical industries. For example, I expect most states to eventually require this type of training to be included in the standard food safety training or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require it in its standard training programs. If they do, we will not only lower the spread of COVID-19 but other contagious diseases like the seasonal flu.
Anything else I should know about 360training or HASSA?
As consumers, we should all be informed and reward food providers that are taking the necessary safety steps in helping slow the spread of COVID-19. We all win in the end if we do.
With that in mind, we have launched two free online courses for consumers. They include a COVID-19 awareness training and a HASSA food and beverage training. The latter emphasizes the proper ways for consumers to assess if social environments are set up to prevent the spread of the virus, combined with practical recommendations based on guidance from the CDC.