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SOT traffic light priority allocation

In Victoria, the number of Statements of Trade (SOTs) lodged continues to grow. The increase in food events and trading does necessarily need to lead to an increase in compliance checks by council officers.

All 79 councils share the compliance information of registered premises on OSCAR, and this valuable information needs to be considered when deciding if a compliance check is warranted. The Statement of Trade Traffic Light (SOT Traffic Light) was introduced in April 2020 to assist councils in priorites which events to attend and which traders to assess.

What is the SOT Traffic Light?

Each class 2, 3A and 3 premises within OSCAR will be allocated a Traffic Light priority allocation. The priority is based on the:

  • premises’ compliance history
  • time that has passed since the last compliance check where they were trading.

The allocation will also apply to all SOTs relevant to the premises.

Red priority A premises that has received a critical non-compliance outcome in the last 12 months. This red priority allocation remains for 12 months, irrespective of the results of any additional compliance checks after this date.
Amber priority A premises that has received a major non-compliance outcome in the last 12 months. This amber priority allocation remains for 12 months, irrespective of the results of any additional compliance checks after this date.
Green priority A good performing premises. Within the last 12 months, at least one compliance check with a compliant outcome has been recorded while the premises was trading. In most instances, a premises with a green priority does not need an additional compliance check.
Blue priority A new premises or a premises that has not received a compliance check while trading within the last 12 months.

The priority allocation follows a sequence of colours depending on the status and compliance check outcomes of a premises.

The default priority for all new premises is Blue. A premises will keep this allocation until it has its first compliance check whilst trading. Based on the outcome of this compliance check, they will move to either Red, Amber or Green.

Key points about allocations:

  • Class 4’s will not be allocated any Traffic Light priority. The function only applies to Class 2, 3A and 3.
  • Compliance checks conducted whilst the trader is not selling food to the public will have no impact on the premises’ priority allocation.
  • Critical (Red) and Major (Amber) compliance outcomes result in a 12-month priority allocation. Any subsequent compliance checks during that 12 months will not impact the priority. After 12 months, the priority will default back to blue and the allocation sequence will reset.
  • A Green priority allocation will remain on a premises until its next compliance check, or until 12-months has elapsed since the last compliance check.

The allocation only applies to Class 2s, 3As and 3s. Class 4’s will not be allocated any Traffic Light priority.

Only compliance checks conducted whilst the trader is selling food to the public will impact the traffic light priority allocation.

Critical (Red) and Major (Amber) non-compliance outcomes result in a 12-month priority allocation. Any subsequent compliance checks during that 12 months will not change the priority. After 12 months, the priority will default back to Blue and the allocation sequence will reset.

A Green priority allocation will remain with a premises until its next compliance check, or until 12-months has elapsed since its last compliance check.

The allocations should help prioritise the order (or necessity) of your inspections depending on a premises’ recent compliance history. The priority should run from those that are worst performing, through those that potentially need assessing and lastly down to those you know have been recently compliant.

It is expected that council officers use the Traffic Light priority allocations to influence their decision of when and who to inspect.

If a premises was inspected with a compliant outcome, does it need to be inspected again the following week?

Because of the allocation, officers can be assured that a good performing premises (Green) has continually maintained compliant inspection outcomes over the previous 12 months. This premises may have had one or multiple inspections during that time, but all have resulted in a compliant outcome.

Of course, inspections are still made at an officer’s discretion. A compliant business can still be inspected at any time. The priority allocation is there to help the officer choose how to prioritise their time and effort. In some circumstances, you may be walking past a Green premises and notice issues, and therefore an inspection would be warranted.

The priority allocation is there to help the officer choose how to prioritise their time and effort and gives a preliminary visual indication of a premises’ food safety performance. Officers should still follow this up with a review of the premises’ compliance history before making decisions on how or when to conduct an inspection.

A Red or Amber allocation tells an officer that a premises has received a critical or major non-compliance outcome within the last 12 months. The allocation stays with that premises for the entire 12 months regardless of the result of any subsequent inspections during that time. The allocation will reset to Blue only after the 12 months has elapsed.

A review of a premises’ recent compliance history could indicate that additional inspections with compliant outcomes have been conducted since the critical non-compliance was recorded. This could influence an officer’s decision on how to prioritise inspection of that premises. In some circumstances, a Red or Amber premises may end up at the bottom of your priority list:

No. Since the inception of a temporary and mobile system, no trader has had access to compliance outcomes entered by a council officer. Accordingly, there is no reference to the SOT Traffic Light in their account.

However, we are expecting a change in behaviour of council officers, so some traders with a poor compliance history may notice that they are getting inspected more frequently, and the good performers may notice the opposite. This is a desired and intended outcome.

Any reference towards the SOT Traffic Light is at the discretion of the inspecting officer.