News

Hand washing

Washing your hands is one of the simplest, yet most effective, things you can do to protect your health and the health of others.

Farmers come in contact with many potential sources of disease and illness including dirt, farm animals, domestic pets, farm chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, medications, solvents and soil. Farmers and farm workers can also pass contaminants on to others through produce contaminated by bacteria or viruses due to poor hand washing.

There are five simple steps help keep your hands clean and yourself, healthy.

  1. WET: your hands, turn off tap, and apply soap.
  2. LATHER: your hands by rubbing them together with the soap – make sure you soap up to the wrists, get the back of your hands, in between your fingers and underneath your fingernails are soaped, too.
  3. SCRUB: for at least 20 seconds . Don’t have a timer? Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in your head twice!
  4. RINSE: your hands in clean, running water. If you’re out on the farm and clean, running water is not available, use what water is available, or keep some alcohol wash handy (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  5. DRY: your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.

WHEN? After contact with animals/animal feed/animal waste, before preparing food, before and after treating a cut or wound, and after using the toilet. Even if you have been wearing gloves while working with chemicals or livestock, wash your hands after you remove them.

The few minutes spent washing your hands throughout the day can prevent an illness that could keep you (or others) out of action for days, weeks, or even longer – and who’s going to run the farm then?

References used for this topic page

More information:

Centers for Disease Control (US)
Wash Your Hands

Occupational Dermatology
Skin Care in the Workplace

The Nemours Foundation (US)
Hand washing

Research & reviews:

Cochrane Collaboration
Hand washing for preventing diarrhoea

Fast facts:

Hand washing

  • Hand washing is an important way to prevent the spread of disease and reduce the risk of illness.
  • Contact with dirt, farm animals, pets, medications, chemicals and fertilisers can all present potential risks.

Last updated: 16th January, 2018