Sanitation and Hygiene

August 25, 2016

Tips for Talking

  • Plan ahead. Be familiar and comfortable with the topic.
  • Make it relevant. Include related tasks and work areas or events.
  • Involve your workers. Ask questions that lead to participation. See suggestions under “Discussion Drivers.”

What went wrong?

July 22, 9:30 a.m.

Elisa started feeling bad a couple of days ago, but when the cramps and diarrhea continued to get worse, she gave in and came to the urgent care center. As a young girl Elisa had dreamed of working with animals, and now the 27 year old was living that dream at Happy Tails Goat Farm. Sometimes dirty, but always rewarding, her job included feeding, milking, caring for, and cleaning up after more than 60 goats every day. Unfortunately, today’s lab results showed that Elisa’s symptoms were being caused by E.coli, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animal or human waste. What went wrong?

Tractor Talks

Sanitation and Hygiene on the Farm

The lack of sanitation facilities and/or handwashing facilities can lead to many health effects. Farmworkers may suffer urinary tract infections due to urine retention from inadequate availability of toilets, chemical poisoning resulting from lack of handwashing facilities, and infectious and other communicable diseases from microbial and parasitic exposures. To ensure a healthy workplace, farm workers should have access to:

  • Clean water for hand washing.
  • Readily accessible drinking water.
  • Nearby toilets that are clean and stocked with handwashing supplies.

If housing is provided to workers, it should be safe, uncrowded, and include shower and laundry facilities.

Handwashing Prevents Disease!

The most effective way to prevent illness is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially:

  • Before eating or drinking.
  • Before and after using the toilet.
  • After touching dirty surfaces or handling trash, garbage, or waste.
  • After contact with fertilizers, pesticides, cleaning products, or other chemicals.

Discussion Drivers

  1. What behaviors might have prevented and/or contributed to Elisa’s illness?
  2. What are some other health concerns related to unsanitary conditions and behaviors?
  3. What is your greatest concern related to your job and environmental hazards?
For more information on Agricultural Operations and Sanitation visit:

This material was produced under grant number SH-27619-15-60-F-37 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. It does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.