FST-41NP (FST 338NP)
Promoting good worker hygiene is one of the most important steps farmers can take to prevent contamination of their fruits and vegetables with foodborne disease-causing microorganisms referred to as pathogens. A key step in promoting good hygiene is ensuring that there are handwashing stations and toilet facilities available on the farm in close proximity (not more than . mile) to the workers.
Setting up a good handwashing station
Thorough handwashing is a "best practice" for keeping food safe. Thorough washing will cut down on the numbers of microorganisms present which in turn helps to enhance the effectiveness of the sanitizer. Hand sanitizers should only be used after proper handwashing, not in place of it.
A good handwashing station should be equipped with the following items:
- A clean container holding clean water that has been tested to be sure it has no detectable generic E. coli present.
- Single use paper towels.
- Hand soap or antibacterial soap in a pump dispenser.
- Trash receptacle.
Additional tips for a good handwashing station
- Use a large, closed, plastic container such as a carboy that has a spigot to hold the potable water.
- Use another large plastic container or bucket to catch the wash water, and avoid letting it get into growing areas.
- The handwashing station should be located close to where the workers are working in order for it to be easy for them to use.
- If your farm is large enough, house the handwashing station on a trailer so that it can be moved around your farm as the workers move from plot to plot.
- Include a sign with handwashing instructions or pictures for workers to follow. The instructions should be in English and/or Spanish or other native language.
- The station should be monitored on a regular schedule to ensure that it is clean and stocked with water, soap, paper towels, etc.
Examples of handwashing stations that farmers have created on their properties
Setting up adequate toilet facilities
On the farm, the most common toilet facilities are rented portable toilets. One portable toilet for every 15 to 20 workers is recommended. Facilities should be located not more than a 1/4 mile walk from each worker’s place of work in the field.
- Facilities should be located next to or in close proximity to the handwashing station so that workers can wash hands after using the toilet.
- The portable facility can be mounted on a trailer so that it can be moved around the farm from plot to plot to make it easier for the workers to use.
- It should be serviced and cleaned on a regular basis.
Very small farm operations may have primarily family or neighbors harvesting product. In this case a home toilet is acceptable. However, single use paper towels are recommended and the toilet facilities should be serviced and cleaned on a regular basis. You must still train these helpers, just as you would other workers, on proper handwashing and hygiene practices for your farm. Going to the bathroom in the woods or other areas adjacent to growing areas should be avoided due to the risk of run-off or transfer into the fields.
This project was supported all, or in part, by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture (Award Number 2009-51110-20161) and the Food Safety Outreach Program [grant no. 2016 0020-25888/project accession no. 1010671] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Publication #FDNS-E-168-7, 2nd Edition. R. Boyer, J.A. Harrison, J.W. Gaskin, M.A. Harrison, J. Cannon, G. Zehnder and K. Woods.
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August 13, 2019