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The importance of sanitation at the workplace and the role of trivial gestures as hand-washing

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It cannot be stressed enough that taking the proper precautions for safety and sanitation in the workplace today can aid in the prevention of diseases of tomorrow. In David Walpuck’s featured article in FoodSafety magazine, “Employee Hygiene and Handwashing in the Retail Foodservice Establishments”, he exposes the daunting circumstances workers and consumers alike unknowingly face in an unhygienic workplace. Every hand not properly washed or dish not neatly put away may seem trivial; but when tasks that are needed to be performed to maintain cleanliness are not completed, workers unnecessarily compromise their station, their quality of goods, and ultimately the potential to be criticized by health agents and even the general public. To combat the persistent industry-wide stigma of the uselessness of sanitation, Walpuck simplifies the necessity of maintaining a clean environment using two basic steps, proper handwashing and hygiene.

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A person’s skin may protect an individual from disease as a physical barrier; but the potential for a person’s contaminated touch may compromise more than any one person’s health. Despite handwashing being a simple cleaning method, it takes more than just soap and water to make a person’s hands clean. Walpuck argues in his article that not is handwashing is not done consistenly enough during the work day, but the very technique itself may not be properly performed by the staff. According to Walpuck, “80% of communicable disease are transferred by touch” (Walpuck 2016). He even goes one to say that less than 20% of the workers wash their hands before preparing food. Ultimately, Walpuck recommends staff to participate in daily training in handwashing, and stressing the importance of handwashing beyond the simple phrase “because management told them so” and realize the implications of the presence of pathogens in the workplace. If workers realize the potential of health issues they present to themselves and to others, maybe they will think twice before not washing their hands the next time.

Another important factor that impacts the health of many workers is proper hygiene. Hygiene should mean more to the retail food worker than just a clean uniform. Regularly showering every day, pulling back hair, brushing teeth, maintaining facial health, and other aspects of hygiene should be common sense as well as common knowledge for the regular worker. The worst risk factor for the worker and workplace is the worker that comes in sick. Contact, droplets, and other forms of transmission from a sick worker can compromise the cleanliness of the workplace beyond what that person may realize According to Walpuck’s statement of the CDC, he argues that “50% of all food-related illness is caused by norovirus. In many cases, sick food handlers were involved in spreading the virus” (Walpuck 2016). In conclusion, rather than not taking that sick day to work at a business and risk the health of others, handwashing and hygiene can actually greatly reduce the number of absences, sick leaves, and loss of productivity. (2016).

Based on his article, I can conclude David Walpuck’s effectiveness in not only addressing the need for handwashing and hygiene as just methods to be done in accordance to the law, but rather take the relevant approach workers would take regarding their individual health. He clarifies the need for handwashing and hygiene as an essential workplace objective due the overwhelming evidence correlating absences, loss of productivity, and sick leave with poor cleanliness. David Walpuck puts hygiene into perspective the best for identifying for the reader the implications of hygiene beyond not just isolated incidents of not washing hands or keeping proper hygiene, but how it can build up and culminate in overall production and communal health. The questions I have in my mind regard the effectiveness of antimicrobial soaps and cleaning material used across different fields of food, and professions in general. I also wonder how effective laws regarding hygiene have either supported or hindered efforts to increase cleanliness in the workplace. Finally, to improve this article, I would recommend adding more facts about the benefits of handwashing and hygiene, identifying the most common problems of personal hygiene in the workplace, and create a diagram or graph the effectiveness of training and daily teaching of handwashing has benefitted or deterred proper handwashing and hygiene in the workplace.

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