Restaurant Hand Washing Policy

Restaurant Hand Washing Policy

One of the most crucial parts of a restaurant's food safety procedure is hand washing. It's tough to ensure that your employees are following standards without a handwashing policy in place or a strong focus on ongoing training. Continue reading to discover more about handwashing basics and how to encourage hand hygiene in your restaurant.

Importance of Hand Washing

Germs can spread throughout your organization on unwashed hands, and any surface or item your employees’ contact could become infected. The kitchen crew gets a lot of attention when it comes to hand cleaning, but hand hygiene isn't only for food handlers. Employees in the front of the house also come into contact with objects that can spread cross-contamination, such as drinking glasses and silverware.

Because viruses that cause foodborne illness are too tiny to see, hand washing is still one of the safest ways to prevent the transmission of these bacteria. Clean hands are also an effective barrier against COVID-19, an airborne virus that can survive long enough on surfaces such as menus or doorknobs to spread from person to person. According to the CDC, this isn't the main method the coronavirus spreads, but proper hand washing is an important aspect of preventing illness.

What Is the Best Place to Wash Your Hands?

Hands must be washed at designated handwashing stations using certified hand soap and paper towels. Each handwashing station should be designated by a sign, and the hand sink should supply warm running water that may be adjusted to at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

These rules are in place to keep employees from washing their hands at the incorrect sink. Commercial kitchens typically feature several sinks for various purposes, but not all of them are suitable for handwashing. A utility sink, for example, will not have paper towels or hand soap nearby and could potentially be contaminated by dirty mop water. The water in a pot filler sink may not be hot enough to kill bacteria. A health code violation could ensue if a health inspector sees a staff member washing their hands at one of these sinks instead of a handwashing sink.

Hand Washing Sink Regulations

The standards for commercial kitchen hand sinks may vary based on your local regulatory body, but this list can be utilized as a starting point for designing your handwashing stations. Handwashing stations must be stocked with the following items:

  • Location - Hand washing sinks should be located in convenient locations throughout your restaurant, including the front-of-house and bar areas
  • Usage - Designated hand washing sinks cannot be used for any other purpose besides washing hands
  • Hand soap - Approved hand washing soap must be provided
  • Hand drying - Paper towels or hand dryers should be wall mounted within reach
  • Water lines - The sink should provide hot and cold running water
  • Water temperature - Hot and cold water should be adjustable to reach at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Touchless faucets - Touchless faucets must run for at least 15 seconds
  • Hand washing sign - Hand washing sinks should be identified by a hand washing compliance sign

How Should You Wash Your Hands?

Operators might make a costly error by believing their personnel know how to properly wash their hands. Although hand cleaning appears to be a simple task, there is a technique that can improve its effectiveness. Show your employees how to wash their hands in the following manner:

  1. Use warm running water to wet hands and forearms
  2. Apply soap and rub hands together to build up a lather
  3. Scrub hands and arms for 20 seconds (include fingertips, between fingers, and under fingernails)
  4. Rinse thoroughly with warm water
  5. Dry hands and arms with a clean paper towel or hand dryer
  6. After washing, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet

Posting notes at each hand sink will assist your employees in remembering all of the procedures associated with hand washing. A poster is a visual tool that lists all of the processes and includes photographs.

When Is It Appropriate for Food Handlers to Wash Their Hands?

Hand washing is significantly more effective when it is done before and after specific tasks. Although most people are aware that they must wash their hands after using the restroom, there are some less visible chores that are notorious for transmitting germs, such as handling money or touching your phone. Follow this guide to make sure your employees know when to wash their hands:

Hands must be washed before beginning the following tasks:

  • Preparing food
  • Handling clean dishes or utensils
  • Putting on clean, single-use gloves
  • Changing tasks

Hands must be washed after performing the following actions:

  • Using the restroom
  • Touching your face, hair, or clothing
  • Handling soiled items or taking out trash
  • Touching raw meat, seafood, or poultry
  • Using cleaning chemicals
  • Handling money
  • Using the POS system
  • Answering the land-line phone
  • Touching electronic devices like mobile phones
  • Eating, drinking, or smoking
  • Touching any surface that might contaminate hands
  • Removing soiled, single-use gloves
  • Changing tasks

It's important to remember to wash your hands before putting on and after removing disposable gloves. This increases the gloves' effectiveness while also reducing the risk of contamination.

What is Hand Care?

Hand care entails more than just hand washing; it also includes maintaining the personal hygiene of the hands and nails. To boost the effectiveness of hand washing policies, restaurant personnel must practice good hand hygiene.

Hand Hygiene Guidelines

There are rules for practicing hand care, just as there are for clean clothes and other forms of personal hygiene in the job.

  • Fingernail length - Trim and clean your fingernails. Long nails are difficult to keep clean and serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. They can also shred gloves or chip off pieces into food, contaminating it physically.
  • Fake nails - Employees in the foodservice industry should refrain from wearing false nails. They're difficult to keep clean and can disintegrate into food.
  • Nail polish - Employees should not apply nail polish to practice proper hand hygiene. Under painted nails, dirt is difficult to discern, and nail polish can flake off into meals.
  • Jewelry - While working in a restaurant, jewelry such as rings and bracelets should be avoided. Contaminants and dirt might get underneath or within the jewelry. All other rings should be removed during the transition, except for a single simple wedding band.

Protecting Open or Infected Wounds

In a kitchen with sharp knives and hot cookware, mishaps are all too often. If an employee's hands or arms are injured, it's critical that the wound is appropriately cared for. Food or food-contact surfaces can get contaminated by open or infected wounds. To protect yourself from injury and cross-contamination, follow these guidelines:

  • Wound on the hand or wrist - Apply a water-resistant bandage or a finger cot to the wound. Over the bandage, put on a disposable glove.
  • Wound on the arm - A water-resistant bandage should be used to completely cover the wound.

What Is a Finger Cot and Why Do I Need One?

A finger cot, sometimes known as a finger glove, is a latex sheath that entirely wraps one finger and protects it from cuts and wounds. Finger cots are often used by foodservice workers to keep wound fluids from becoming a source of contamination.

It is your responsibility as an operator to set the tone for your hand washing policy. Never assume that a new employee understands when, where, and how to wash their hands. Make your expectations extremely clear from the start, issue helpful reminders, and keep an eye on your employees to verify they are meeting them.