Are your customers doing their bit to keep your restaurant safe from unpleasant germs? More than one in ten adults reportedly don’t wash their hands after visiting the loo––more worryingly, these figures came in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. The idea that so many individuals may be navigating your premises with dirty hands certainly warrants a handwashing poster taking prime position in your staff and customer washrooms.
No restaurant wants to make the headlines for giving its customers food poisoning, diarrhoea, and now add to that respiratory infections. But what can we do when it may be customers themselves who are the biggest risk? Ensuring that the simple but essential activity of handwashing is diligently performed––by your staff and patrons––will help to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Promote good hand hygiene
How often have you visited a public washroom where the soap or disposable towels have run out? Not only is it frustrating, but it’s also an indication of how much the venue prioritises hygiene.
To create a culture of good hand hygiene in your restaurant, you have to make handwashing easy. Basins need to be clean, soap needs to be accessible and for best results consider using Electronic Hands-Free Taps. These types of taps can significantly reduce any unnecessary touchpoints and encourage safer hand-washing habits. Automatic hand dryers also help promote contact-free hand washing, but disposable towels work equally as well.
To effectively eliminate bacteria, running water and soap are required––an antibacterial spray or liquid is not sufficient. The alcohol in hand sanitiser can neutralise bacteria, but it doesn’t work as effectively on visibly dirty hands. Soap, followed by a thorough rinse with water, is far more likely to dislodge any viral cells.
A visible poster can prompt individuals to wash their hands and provide guidance on the best practices to follow to ensure that the correct technique is applied. It really does matter how you wash your hands. A quick squirt of water is not enough to effectively minimise the risk of germs spreading. Your handwashing poster can act as a subtle yet powerful educational tool in helping to prevent the spread of nasty infections.
When you bring awareness to the issues around cross-contamination resulting from poor hand hygiene, your staff and visitors will naturally gravitate towards more positive and conscientious hygiene routines.
When should you wash your hands?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to minimise the frequency with which it’s necessary to wash your hands when working in the catering industry. When handling different food types, visiting the toilet or contacting other surfaces where bacteria is prevalent, washing of hands is non-negotiable. Throughout the working day, employees should be expected to wash their hands after:
- touching hair, nose, mouth or ears –– although this should be avoided
- eating, smoking, coughing or blowing nose
- handling waste
- cleaning equipment or crockery
- touching dirty surfaces or items such as phones, keyboards and switches
- using the toilet
- handling raw meat or vegetables (before and after)
These are just some of the common scenarios that call for intensive handwashing before preparing food or touching other surfaces in the catering environment. Of course, it is possible to over wash your hands, stripping away the essential oils from the dermis and causing wounds that, when exposed to germs, result in the very thing you’re trying to avoid. That’s why employees should work systematically throughout the day, sticking to one task at a time where possible.
Your guests should be encouraged to wash their hands before eating their meals and, certainly, after visiting the toilet facilities. Mobile hand wash stations can be positioned at the entrance of your premises for greater convenience and as an obvious reminder for visitors and staff that hand hygiene is of paramount importance.
Handwashing in 9 steps
1. Wet your hands
Wet your hands under running water.
2. Apply soap
Use enough liquid soap to lather your hands entirely.
3. Rub your hands together
In a circular motion, rub your palms together. Do not scrub or use anything abrasive that could damage your skin.
4. Clean the back of your hands
With one hand, rub the back of the other and clean in between the fingers. Repeat on the other hand.
5. Link your fingers
Interlink your fingers and thoroughly clean between them.
6. Cup your fingers
Place your right hand over your left and cup your fingers, interlocking them into each other. Now rub the back of your palms, then swap.
7. Clean your thumbs
Hold your left thumb with your right hand and rotate. Repeat on the opposite hand.
8. Rinse your hands
Using clean water, rub your hands until the soap has been removed.
9. Thoroughly dry your hands
Using a disposable towel, or automatic hand dryer, thoroughly dry your hands. If using a manual tap, rather than hands-free basins and taps, use a disposable towel to turn the tap off.
Although hand hygiene has always been essential, the outbreak of COVID-19 has brought even more awareness to the importance of stringent health and safety practices––particularly where food is concerned. As the catering industry reopens its doors to the public, it’s important to make a visible effort to demonstrate your establishment’s efforts to protect its customers and employees; a handwashing poster is an excellent place to start.
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