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Stand-Up Training: Hand Washing Effectively

Employee learns about hand hygiene

Empower Employees Through Food Safety Training

Effective handwashing is one of the most vital food safety skills your employees can have. Use this training to teach them why hand hygiene is so important and how to keep their hands clean. Good training and practice will help your employees make effective handwashing a habit.

Learning Objectives

You may choose to read these learning objectives with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

After this training, employees will be able to:

  • Explain why hand hygiene is important
  • Demonstrate effective handwashing
  • Identify when they must wash their hands
  • Explain what double handwashing is and why it is necessary
  • Evaluate their own handwashing habits and make positive changes

The Facts

You may choose to read these facts with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

  • Good hand hygiene is essential to food safety and one of the best ways to prevent foodborne illness. Handwashing helps prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. It also helps prevent cross-contamination, cross-contact, and other contamination.
  • Handwashing takes about 20 seconds. Fifteen seconds should be spent scrubbing (as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or the ABC song twice).
  • Handwashing should only take place in the bathroom sink and designated handwashing sinks. Washing hands in other sinks can spread contamination to food or dishes.
  • Food workers should wash their hands twice after using the bathroom: once in the bathroom sink and then again in a handwashing sink. Double handwashing can seem redundant, but it’s an effective way to keep bathroom germs away from food.
  • Hand sanitizer is not required and should never be used in place of soap. It can be used after handwashing as an extra precaution.

Training Activities

Choose the activities that will be most beneficial for your employees. Modify them as needed to fit the training needs of your establishment.

The “Why” of Handwashing with Soap

Watch: Your Hands Are Covered in Germs video

Discuss: Why is it important to take the time to wash your hands with soap?

Watch: How Soap Works video

Discuss: Did you learn any new or interesting information about how soap works?

Read: Always scrub your hands for 15 seconds to take full advantage of soap’s ability to remove pathogens. An easy way to keep track of those 15 seconds is by singing or thinking the words to “Happy Birthday” or the ABC song twice.

Display (optional): Post handwashing stickers near the bathroom and handwashing sinks.

Explain It to Me

Ask: How would you teach me to wash my hands if I were a new employee?

Demonstrate: Go to the handwashing sink. If you are directed to do something that recontaminates your hands, point out the problem and ask for more direction.

If employees give you instructions that are not complete or specific enough, ask leading questions to help them explain more. For example, if an employee tells you to scrub your hands, ask, “How long do I scrub?” Ask employees to explain why they do steps that might seem like more work, like turning off the faucet with a paper towel instead of their clean hands.

Watch: Handwashing video

Challenge: Encourage your employees to follow all the steps of handwashing every time they wash their hands at work.

Display (optional): Hang up the Steps of Handwashing poster near bathroom and handwashing sinks to help employees remember the steps of washing their hands.

The “When” of Handwashing

Prepare: Before the activity, brainstorm a list of times to wash hands that are specific to your establishment and equipment. Offer these ideas as part of the activity discussion.

Discuss: You should wash your hands any time you think they may be contaminated. What are specific times and situations when you would need to wash your hands?

Probe: If you want to emphasize an item on the list (like double handwashing after going to the bathroom), ask employees a follow-up question like “Why is that important?”

Record: Write a list with all the ideas presented.

Display (optional): Post the list you created in a visible spot as a reminder to your employees.

Following Up

Observe employees as they complete tasks during a normal shift. Give employees constructive tips for improving their handwashing. Praise employees who wash their hands well consistently.

Consider having 60-second review trainings before certain shifts. During these trainings, quickly review the key points of handwashing. Emphasize steps that need more attention and remind employees why these steps are important to food safety.

Make sure your shift managers and supervisors can answer questions that other employees may have about handwashing. Encourage employees to ask questions when they need help instead of guessing at the right answer.

As needed, review this training with your employees.

Training Resources

The Your Hands Are Covered in Germs video is an animated reminder that hands can carry dangerous pathogens and that handwashing is essential for food safety. View the Spanish version of this video: Sus Manos están Llenas de Gérmenes.

The How Soap Works video gives insight into the science of handwashing. What does soap do, and why is it important? In this video, your employees can learn the answers. View the Spanish version of this video: Cómo Funciona el Jabón.

Handwashing stickers are intended for bathroom mirrors or paper towel dispensers. If the bathroom at your establishment doesn’t have a handwashing reminder, use this.

The Handwashing video shows a step-by-step demonstration of handwashing. This short video emphasizes important details of handwashing like how to avoid recontaminating clean hands on a faucet or door handle. View the Spanish version of this video: Video de Lavado de Manos.

Use the Steps of Handwashing poster as a visual during your training or as a poster in your establishment. As needed, place it in the bathroom or above handwashing sinks.

Did you use this stand-up training in your establishment? We’d love to get your feedback! Take a minute to do our feedback survey.

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— Alyssa Erickson

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