U.S. agricultural producers are required to provide varying amounts of safety training to their employees depending on the nature of their operation(s). Hand washing is an integral part of several types of safety training including pesticide safety education, the Worker Protection Standard and Microbial Food Safety of Fruits and Vegetables. Generally instructions are to “wash thoroughly,” though some employees are told they should wash for 20 seconds. An easy way to get growers to “buy into” methods that verify hand washing is to include such demonstrations as part of pesticide safety education programs and workshops that grant Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the renewal of pesticide applicator licenses. It is important that the demonstrations be highly visual so participants actually experience the difficulty in removing a contaminant from hands even though they have performed “thorough” hand washing. It also allows them to observe the ease of cross contamination from soiled hands. Once growers see how easy and inexpensive it is to do this type of training, they are being encouraged to use these demonstrations with various types of employees: mixer-loaders and other handlers, harvesting crews, packinghouse employees, and even field workers who routinely handle plants and may be spreading diseases. Details on different methods of training and grower reactions will be presented.
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