Employee hand-washing signs

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August 25, 2006 LITTLE ROCK Arkansas restaurants and other food-handling businesses have been receiving letters this week informing them that they must purchase signs to post for their employees in order to be in compliance with state health regulations. Attorney General Mike Beebe issued a consumer alert today warning businesses that the letters include false information and aim to deceive business owners into purchasing signs they do not need.This is not the first time that unscrupulous companies have tried to trick businesses into paying for signs they can get for free; most recently weve seen it with the new Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act, Beebe said. These pitches are using false and deceptive information to scare restaurants into giving money away for notices they can get for free or make themselves.The letters are from a group calling themselves the Arkansas Food Service Compliance Center, with a listed address for a mailbox-rental company in West Little Rock. The groups aim is to sell businesses required signs reminding food-service employees to regularly wash their hands. While the signs are required, officials at the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services Division of Health say the following claims in the letter are false:
    Posters must meet exact specifications and procedures. There are no such specifications in the Arkansas regulations, simply a requirement that the signs be posted.Posters cannot be self-made. Untrue. Businesses can produce their own signs.Failure to post approved signs can lead to fines of up to $2,500. Non-compliance fines for required postings are much lower than $2,500, and again, there are no specifications requiring approval of signs
The Division of Health has received calls from across the state this week from restaurants and other businesses that have been sent the deceptive letters. Posted versions of the hand-washing signs may be downloaded and used for free by going to www.healthyarkansas.com.As for other required postings, the Arkansas Department of Labor provides a full list of notices that must be posted at a workplace and the persons to contact to receive each of those signs free-of-charge. That list can be obtained on the Internet by clicking on the required postings for Arkansas employers link at www.arkansas.gov/labor/, or by calling (501) 682-4500. The U.S. Department of Labor can be contacted at (501) 324-5292. For further information on other consumer matters, contact the Public Protection Division of the Attorney Generals Office at Suite 1100, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201. The office can be reached by calling 682-2341 ( Little Rock) or 1-800-482-8982. Spanish-speaking consumers can also call (501) 683-3130. TDD service is available for the hearing impaired at 682-6073. The address on the World Wide Web is www.arkansasag.gov.