HSE warns that soap and water hand washing is essential for farm visits

The WashStand Xtra handwash unit for farms and visitor centres

Minimising the risk of illness for open farms and visitor attractions

With any farms or agricultural attractions where visitors are welcomed, the risks caused by potential infections from animals must be fully considered and steps put in place to minimise them. One of the highest priorities is the provision of adequate soap and water hand washing facilities, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK. 

Facilities that also include petting farms and agricultural shows must be aware of the potential for the spread of “zoonotic diseases” with examples being given as Cryptosporidium parvum and E. coli O157. This is one of the main reasons, says the guidance, that no visit to such an attraction can ever be considered risk free, with, it says, children and old people being most at risk.

“Simply carrying the bacterium will not normally cause an animal any harm or illness, but contact with contaminated animals or their faeces can cause illness ranging from diarrhoea to kidney failure in humans. In some cases, the illness can be fatal.”

The three main ways that such diseases are transmitted are,

  1. Consuming food or drink with contaminated hands
  2. By touching animals
  3. By spending time in an area that has been contaminated with animal faeces.

Minimising the risks with hand washing

The risks to visitors can be reduced to “low” with a number of important safety measures being initiated by the farm or attraction. If they are to be allowed direct access to animals and where they are kept, people should be notified of the potential risks – and told where they are able to wash their hands.

The guidance is unequivocal with regard to effective hand hygiene.

“…washing facilities should be sufficient for the expected numbers of visitors needing to use them at one time, and should include running water (preferably warm), soap and paper towels.”

The reliance on hand gels and wipes on farms is, by and large, irrelevant and totally ineffective, warns the HSE.

“…alcohol gels and wipes are not a substitute for hand washing on farms”.

No food should be made available for visitors until and unless they have passed washing facilities after all animal contact areas.

The guidance also cross-references with the Access to Farms resource The Latest Industry Code of Practice “Preventing or Controlling Ill Health from Animal Contact at Visitor Attractions” has been updated and is now available to download.

Preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions or open farms »

A child being taught to wash his hands with a KiddiSynk mobile handwash unit
It’s vital to teach handwashing to youngsters on farm visits

Teal mobile hand wash sinks – place them wherever they’re needed!

There are vehicle mounted, wall mounted, mains powered and free standing hand wash stations as well as mobile sinks for use with pre-heated hot water.

The Teal range of mobile sinks includes the MediWashHygienius and Hygienius ProWashBigSynkSuper StalletteTEALwashHandeman XtraCompact ClassicHandSpa, CliniWash – and now the new WashStand Xtra.