Evaluation of an innovative, employee-driven sign on hand washing behavior changes using video observation

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Signs are commonly used in the foodservice industry to portray food safety messages. However, many of these signs do not consider employee preferences or current needs in the industry. Employee perceptions can provide crucial information about the design of effective food safety messages. Surveys were conducted with meat and poultry processing employers in the mid-Atlantic region to determine food safety needs in the industry. Follow-up focus groups in both English (5) and Spanish (5) were conducted based on language availability and size. The most important food safety topics were hand washing (60.9%), cleaning/sanitizing (78.3%), and cross contamination (69.9%). Employees believe that color, text, and multiple language options could increase employee recognition and retention of intended messages. New, employee-driven hand washing signs were developed from the information in the focus groups. Signs were evaluated by video observation through five hand washing practice behaviors (soap use, complete wash, time to wash, complete rinse, and towel use) at two different poultry processing facilities in the mid-Atlantic at three different time points (baseline, short term, and long term). Soap use significantly increased at both facilities when baseline data was compared to short term and long term time periods. Facility B showed a significant increase in washing, time, and rinsing when baseline data was compared to short term, which indicates that a new sign could increase hand washing compliance. Sign color had a significant effect on behavior for washing and time of washing, while time had a significant effect on behavior for four of five variables tested. New signs could be a useful way to encourage compliance to food safety message for multicultural employees; however, they may need to be frequently changed as workers tend to refer back to old habits.

pictograms, poultry, video observation, hand washing, signs