Safeguard your restaurant with robust employee hand-washing protocol

Safeguard your restaurant with robust employee hand-washing protocol

Vigilant hand-washing is critical to preventing the spread of pathogens such as norovirus and Hepatitis A, which can negatively affect human and business health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. For employees to know just how important hand-washing is in your operation, embed it as a core pillar of your restaurant’s food safety culture.

Food handlers must wash their hands at your restaurant’s designated hand-washing sink before they start work and after the following activities:

  • Using the restroom
  • Handling raw meat, poultry and seafood (before and after)
  • Touching the hair, face or body
  • Sneezing, coughing or using a tissue
  • Eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum or tobacco
  • Handling chemicals that might affect food safety
  • Taking out garbage
  • Clearing tables or busing dirty dishes
  • Touching clothing or aprons
  • Handling money
  • Leaving and returning to kitchen/prep areas
  • Handling service animals or aquatic animals
  • Touching anything that could contaminate hands, such as dirty equipment, work surfaces or wiping cloths

One hand-washing demonstration during onboarding is typically not enough to make a lasting impression. To keep this process top of mind, try the following:

  • Model correct behaviors. All employees should consistently wash their hands. Hold each other accountable. When it’s apparent that all team members prioritize food safety, there is less of a chance that someone will forget to wash their hands.
  • Give positive reinforcement. When employees wash their hands, continuously acknowledge it. Yes, your staff should know hand-washing is required, but keeping it as a line item of a successful work performance can help everyone stay attentive.
  • Conduct training and retraining when necessary. Even if hand-washing is already a part of your restaurant’s food safety culture, discuss hand-washing frequently with your employees. If a new machine or menu item is introduced, include in instructions when the food handler should typically wash his or her hands. By the designated hand-washing sink, you can also hang eye-catching hand-washing posters. When bringing on new employees, take time to show them the designated hand-washing sink, and consider keeping the single-use paper towels and hands-free soap dispensers at eye level so they’re easy to locate.