Objective: To describe restaurant food workers’ hand hygiene practices and identify factors associated with safe hand hygiene practices.
Study Results: Observations of workers preparing food at work (n=321) indicated that workers engaged in approximately 8.6 activities per hour for which hand washing is recommended. However, workers made hand washing attempts in only 32% of these activities and washed their hands appropriately in only 27% of these activities. Attempted and appropriate hand washing rates were significantly higher in conjunction with food preparation than other activities (e.g., handling dirty equipment). Attempted and appropriate hand washing rates were significantly lower when gloves were worn than when gloves were not worn. Hand washing and glove use were more likely to occur when workers were not busy. Hand washing was more likely to occur in restaurants that provided food safety training, with more than one hand sink, and with a hand sink in the worker’s sight. Glove use was more likely to occur in chain restaurants and in restaurants with glove supplies in food preparation areas. These findings suggest that food worker hand washing practices need to be improved, glove use may reduce hand washing, and restaurants should consider reorganizing their work activities to reduce the need for hand washing. Findings also indicate that several factors are related to hand hygiene practices and support suggestions that food worker hand hygiene improvement requires multidimensional programs.
Action Item: Check your hand washing procedures and enforcement methods to help prevent food related sickness.