OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health

A Breathing Ground for Diseases…..JFK Food Court


Image result for LUNCH TIME

Am I the only one who thinks about what’s for lunch before it’s actually lunch time? Lunch breaks usually give us time to recharge for whatever our task may be during the afternoon period and whether or not we purchase a meal or enjoy our home cooked food, one thing we would all like is a comfortable sanitary location to consume our food. Health should not just be a factor when deciding on our calorie intake at lunch but how healthy and safe is this said environment. At the University of the West Indies St. Augustine a large gathering of the student body assemble day after day at the food court, however we are faced with unpleasant conditions. While assessing the facilities four hazards were encountered

  • Physical
  • Fire
  • Ergonomic
  • Biological

lThe first hazard presented itself before entering the food court.  Here we can see water has been settling on the ground and too little resistance or grip between ones’ footwear and the floor can cause a slip. The water appears to be dripping from the air conditioning unit pictured to the left and this should be of great concern to maintenance. One might ask, “Why don’t you step aside?” but should that be the solution?

Within this food court we have four (4) establishments, Subway, pKFC, Mario’s and Boomers. In order to provide their service we expect there to be open flames. In such an enclosed area provisions should be made in case of emergencies, but this is not the case.   JFK food court did not consider an effective way for a stamped of persons to exit the building in the case of a fire. Doors to public places should pull to enter and push to exit. This is more effective, since in a moment of panic the door goes in the direction of the crowd as persons are more likely to push up against the door making it difficult to open a door that swings inwards. In addition all doors within areas of an assembly must be unlocked and accessible at any time to allow easy traffic flow in an emergency. As we are on the topic of easy traffic flow, the aisle space leading toward exit doors must be clear and maintained at all times yet there is always overcrowding in the JFK Food court. The doorways are always blocked by the extended lines to purchase KFC obstructing persons from entering and exiting the food court area.

As we continue this tour we are PICC.jpggreeted by a regular visitor, we might even consider the food court unwanted mascot. Because the doors are continuously opened it is easy for pigeons to enter. There is no question that having them where food is being prepared and consumed is unsanitary. Dropping are usually found on the tables and floors and because there isn’t a constant clean up by food court attendants students resort to the ‘napkin and toilet paper way’ of cleaning or it is just not removed at all.  Our little mascot poses a health risk as it brings with it diseases. Some of these biological hazards are:

  • Cryptococcosis: – found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and caused by yeast. This fungus can accumulate in places such as the ac unit which circulated the air in the food court.
  • Salmonellosis: – “dust from droppings can be sucked through ventilators and air conditioners, contaminating food and cooking surfaces in restaurants”. (Birds and their droppings can carry over 60 diseases).

Continuing on the topic of diseases we face even more at this location. It is impossible to exist in society without hearing whispers of Chikungunya, Dengue and most recently Zika. pilOur health Ministry has done its part by making us aware of how to prevent these diseases yet we are still seeing careless actions as pictured below. There are two reasons why the image is difficult to understand. Even though we are unable to tell how long the water has been left there it is obvious that it is in no condition to be used again which is an indication it should have been thrown out immediately. Would someone really continue to mop the floor with dirty water? Another reason is it’s a potential breathing ground for mosquitoes putting students at risk. The solution for this is simple and should be carried out immediately after mopping the floors.

Another issue highlighted by our team, was poor electrical setups. With the hustle and bustle of launching in and out of the food court, many students never had the time to look up. llWires hung from the ceiling, walls and close to the air conditioning unit which poses a great likelihood of a fire starting. A simple solution could be training of the maintenance crew to ensure effective wiring methods so that moisture and water are always kept out of contact. If this is just a matter of development taking place inside, then signs should be implemented, which is a very cost-effective solution.


fAdditionally there where spills on the floor creating serious fall hazards. Many times the employees are unaware of the situation, and when they are actually informed, it would be a long time before it is cleaned. The sweet scent has also attracted bees and flies which can be very disturbing if bothered. Mr. Fly, brings with him “over 100 pathogens (disease-causing organisms)” (Dr Chris n.d.).
d (2).jpgAlthough there are several bins located at strategic points they overflow constantly making it a lovely home for Mr. Fly. Students choose to make worst decisions by leaving their remainders on the tables and exiting the food court. Management should be aware of their peak times and frequently dispose of bags that have reached their capacity or introduce additional bins to curb this problem. At KFC, the counter where one can dress their food and throw aware their garbage is usually filled with paper, spills of condiments and drinks. All these are tantalizing and encouraging to Mr. Fly.




The final issue we identified with the food court facilities was seating.w.jpg The lower back region is the most frequently damaged in the industrialized world. Sitting removes weight from the feet and maintain a stable posture so muscles can relax. The lack of a backrest does not facilitate this. The seating areas in the food court place stress on the lower back muscles as well as the lower spin in itself fostering improper posture and lack of productivity. The Optimal angle to sit without stressing the muscles is 100-110-degrees.



As educated individuals, I don’t think we make an educated choice by using this facility. It has proven to be not only a safety hazard but also a health hazard. In a nutshell the food court is disease ridden and at any moment person or persons can become ill.

The issues highlighted in this blog, should be noted and taken into serious consideration.


“Ergonomics of Sitting.” Cornell University Ergrnomics. N.p.,13 June, 2015. Web. 3 Oct. 2016.

“Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. N.p., 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.

“Birds and Their Droppings Can Carry over 60 Diseases.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 01 Oct. 2016.

Chris, Dr. “House Fly Diseases, Types, Spread and Prevention.”Healthhypecom. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2016.





4 thoughts on “A Breathing Ground for Diseases…..JFK Food Court

  1. After reading this post I am in full agreement with the title that was selected by the UwiOshEnforcers. The JFK food court is a disgrace and it is a prime location for conducting a risk analysis. The four main hazard groups which were highlighted by the group are all valid. The physical hazards through slip and trips and electrical hazards through exposed wires are further compounded by the ergonomic and biological hazards discussed.

    I would like to say that it is absurd that we the student population continually support these establishments. A university campus is usually the location for proactive social movements, yet we the masses apparently have an addiction to some of the food offered there. I also want to begin discussion in terms of the liability should an individual contract food poisoning. Food poisoning can be contracted very easily and it can have very severe consequences. Which raises many alarms as there is a growing number of flying “mascots” present within the JFK food court. Pigeons harbor many diseases. This is unacceptable in an environment where food is prepared and served, yet we accept it. If we used our communal bargaining power we might be able to influence change, however we are not leveraging this potential. Both the university and the independent franchises are exploiting us and will continue to do so unless we raise our concerns and reduce our tolerance of such disregard for public health and safety shown by these entities. So in the event that an individual contracts food poisoning who holds liability? Is it solely the Food provider that will be liable? or will the University of the West Indies also be responsible?

    The physical hazard that the group listed in terms of the entry and exit doors is not present as the doors can be pushed to exit. We know that it is very risky to have doors that must be pulled to exit and pushed to enter. Doors that must be pulled to exit creates risks for evacuation in time of an emergency. The doors are clearly labelled and can be seen from the outside saying “pull”. Also upon closer investigation it was determined that the doors swing either way. So if the picture used was old it would appear that this risk has been mitigated. It is also potentially an easy fix to implement some sort of guttering or piping to have the A/c water run off properly routed to reduces slip and trips.

    The group also highlighted the ergonomic issues in the JFK food court in terms of the seating available. I personally have not spent that much time within the food court for obvious reasons but it is valid that extended use of chairs without proper back support will contribute to back aches, pains and strains.

    Biological hazards were raised by discussing the presence of pigeons in the food court. This hazard is compounded when we refer to the mop bucket left unattended. This mop bucket creates several risks. There is potential that it can be toppled over and create slip and trip hazards, however the greater concern for me is the contents of the water. The dirty water which should have been disposed of immediately should not be left unattended for mosquito reasons listed by the group, but also the high level of bacteria that would be present could also get people severely ill if there is bodily contact through ingestion, inhalation, direct skin touch or through injection. The threats from this bucket is not limited to biological and but also chemical hazards.

    I was a bit shocked that the group did not raise concern about chemical hazards. That mop bucket also creates chemical hazards due to poor housekeeping in terms of waste water disposal which are usually a dirty mixture of many chemicals. This is problem is not isolated to the JFK food court and can be seen in several areas around campus at different times. It is unprofessional and shows a lack of concern for safety and health as well as poor work ethic especially for those who clean the food court area.

    I also want to discuss an experience of mine where I encountered this chemical hazard. I can recount an afternoon where I was very hungry while on campus and decided to go to the JFK food court. As I reached the first thing I noticed was the very long KFC line which creates a hazard as it blocks the entry and exit doors. I was able to maneuver through the line, but this was only half the battle. As I passed the line I had to dodge the incoming swoops of the pigeons who had targeted the deep fried crumps on the floor, and by KFC’s condiments. The decision at that point was to eat subway or Mario’s simply because their establishments are further isolated and enclosed. I decided on Mario’s but that was a decision I didn’t realize I would regret. Upon entering Mario’s I immediately noticed an impact on my breathing and soon my eyes began to water. The potency of the chemicals in the cleaning agent was stifling me and it was just being circulated within their dining area. I happened to notice the worker moping but it appeared that she was mixing a disinfectant with some sort of bleach based product. While this is almost standard practice across Trinidad it is not always advisable to do this because the active ingredients in each can have reactions and lead to chemical risks through exposure. I thought this was a one off occurrence so I consulted peers and colleagues who confirmed that some have also had similar experiences.

    In contrast to the theme of the my discussion above, I am pleased that an additional risk was mitigated through the revamping of the kiosk on the southern side of the JFK food court. The “tiki-Style” hut that was there, which had been abandoned for sometime, was creating risks and hazards through the accumulation of dust which would circulate in the air as well as potentially creating a harboring grounds fro rodents and pest.

    Overall, the JFK food court needs some improvements but these changes will not come unless we unite to get things done.
    “Together we achieve”… we seem to have forgotten this part of our national motto!


  2. Also I’m on campus and hungry…. where do I go ???? Sigh !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No! You are not the only person to think about lunch before lunch time. The mere thought of a scrumptious meal to break the day of the mental exercises that we do on a daily bases is welcomed. Whether in work or at school; our cerebral capacity is challenged, taxed, exploited and drained. Food is the euphoric, the ecstasy and the escape of our day. Oh how beautiful lunchtime is.
    Examining the first picture of the hazard present is water settling on the ground. It is both ignorance and wise to walk around the hazard. Ignorance (perhaps by the ‘powers that be’ for this problem has been here for several years); it does not solve the problem and retains the hazard at the forefront of danger to all in the vicinity. Wise for it would be foolish for an individual to see potential danger and continue on a path of possible self destruction. A simple solution consists of a few inexpensive PVC fittings and a little ingenuity.
    The fire hazard is one of serious concern. It should be addressed immediately. Many of the University’s doors are designed this way. It is amazing how this peril still is permitted to exist. The construct of the door is all it takes to rectify this danger. The good news is that it is a ‘five minute wuk’ per door. Our mascot or ‘rat with wings’ is a pest that needs to be removed. The use of ultra sonic bird repellent would rid this animal from habituating here.
    Nobody enjoys a mosquito bite; far more, the ‘litany’ of illnesses that can be attained from this species. Choosing to leave this bucket with unknown liquid substance is unacceptable and careless. A policy to implement, once the task is completed, discard the liquid immediately. Mr. Fly is always an unwanted guest. Ultra sonic repellent is also available for flies. To alleviate this headache, students/users of the facility need to play their part. A sanitized environment necessitates the support for all stakeholders. Cleaning the tables, chairs, spillages are part of playing one’s part in the process. It is hoped that: one, more bins can be purchased and two, a cleaning schedule specific to the cafeteria to remove the lunchtime waste can be implemented. These two methods can assist in a obtaining a clean environment. The jury is out for ergonomic seating for guest in the food court. It is up for debate.
    Overall this blog was a joy to read. It is hoped that the University’s authorities could improve the conditions outlined in the blog. This will bring the health and safety to one part of the campus.


  4. A Breathing Ground for Diseases…..JFK Food Court (Postgrad Analysis)

    My analysis of this blog confers that this undergraduate safety group chose a place that we frequent on our visits to campus. This an area that as often as we visit, we may not be aware of the health and safety hazards that exist. Consumption of food on the campus is not only for students, the public is also susceptible to these safety and health faux pas. The four hazards identified were Physical, Fire, Ergonomic and Biological. These are the most common hazards present as displayed with pictorial evidence but the is also trip hazard which is present that was not mentioned. The trip hazard is clearly present with evidence of a liquid substance on the ground and no sign for warning. They also spoke about the leaking air condition unit which will also contribute to trip hazards based on the falling water to the floor.

    The strength of this blog showed that students highlighted the various health and safety issues that exist in an area that is frequently visit and make the readers aware of the various health and safety issues that exist at the food court.
    The weakness of the blog showed in the lack of recommendations for the issues highlighted. They could have categorized the various hazards in sections and label the pictures to reflect what hazards they display. There were also no tags or categories for this blog.
    It was a very good blog and highlighted issues to me that I was never aware of. Even though I thought they could have elaborated on more issues and give recommendations for improvement, they were able to highlight the safety issues that we take for granted on our visits to JFK Food Court.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s