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, including reducing the spread of COVID-19.

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 to 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, 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?  Wash your hands before touching anything that needs to stay clean and after touching anything that might contaminate your hands. Examples include: after being in 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?

Fast facts:

  • Hand washing is an easy and important way to protect yourself and others from the risk of illness — and it only takes 20 seconds
  • Contact with dirt, farm animals, pets, medications, chemicals and fertilisers can all present potential risks.

References used for this topic

More information:

Better Health Channel

Handwashing – Why it’s important

Department of Health
How to wash and dry your hands – provides a poster on effective handwashing

Centers for Disease Control (US)
Why wash your hands?

Occupational Dermatology
Skin Care in the Workplace

The Nemours Foundation (US)
Hand washing

Hand washing

Research & reviews:

Journal of Population Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology

Handwashing in averting infectious diseases: Relevance to COVID-19