Encouraging appropriate farmworker hygiene starts with the right equipment

To be GAP compliant, farmworkers that handle produce need to wash their hands often. This requires that places to wash their hands are conveniently available and adequately stocked.

The best way to encourage adequate and frequent hand-washing is to place hand-washing stations conveniently near bathrooms and harvest areas. Units can be either purchased or fabricated to be mounted on trailers and moved to the site of harvest.

Five key elements are needed in all hand-wash stations. They include a potable water source, soap, single-use paper towels, a trash receptacle and signage outlining proper hand-washing. The station must have some type of grey water containment to keep wash water from entering the production area. The soap at the hand-wash station does not need to be antibacterial soap, but there must be adequate soap for workers to wash their hands. The trash receptacle does not need to be elaborate, but must not be filled to overflowing with trash.

Hand-washing stations are available for sale or rent at many portable toilet suppliers. Look in the local yellow pages for hand-washing station suppliers near you. When contracting with a rental company, look for those companies that can offer spill response and understand the nature of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). If they can regularly clean and service the units and can provide a record of service dates, this frees you up for other things.

If you have specific questions about hand-washing stations or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at gaps@msu.edu or 517-788-4292. To obtain more information about hand-washing stations, ask for guidance document AFSM012-01.

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