Location tracking tools empower food service companies to ramp up hand hygiene efforts

Hand hygiene is imperative in the food service sector. ServSafe regulations and similar measures aside, a recent study from the Deb Group found that foodborne diseases cause approximately 420,000 deaths annually, Food Quality News reported. Furthermore, the Deb Group estimates that 39 percent of food service employees neglect to wash their hands after using the restroom, and 53 percent don’t perform proper hand hygiene prior to preparing food.

The underlying causes of hand hygiene problems
The problem here isn’t necessarily lazy employees or poorly executed strategies. Instead, it may come down to needing to create a top-down culture in which the importance of hand hygiene is clearly communicated across the organization and tracking users is easy. A Food Safety Network report covering the recent Norovirus Summit III event explained that inspectors at the event believe that foodservice operators tend to be hesitant when it comes to investing heavily in hand hygiene.

To help solve this problem, inspectors recommend operators implement digital tools that make it easier to track and document hand washing compliance, the report said. These technologies simplify the evaluation process for inspectors and make it easier to quickly pin down who is complying with regulations and when. However, it is important that organizations work to maintain the human factor as they train employees and don’t treat technology as a cure-all.

Using location tracking to simplify hand hygiene
Real-time location tracking systems can use existing Wi-Fi connections combined with RFID badge tags to identify where workers are at any time. Bluetooth-enabled hand wash stations can interact with these badges to tell you when employees have washed their hands, and reports covering employee locations can show you when they’ve been in a restroom, for example, and come out without pausing and executing a hand wash event.

The important thing here is to not look at technology as a panacea and instead approach it as a tool. Solutions like RTLS will help you streamline hand hygiene documentation, but they aren’t going to change your culture or get your employees to care about the things that matter the most from a food health and safety perspective. Using RTLS platforms alongside your employee training and other compliance initiatives can simplify your documentation efforts and make it easier to keep inspectors happy.

In the end, proper hand hygiene with location intelligence technology can potentially save lives in the foodservice sector, not to mention: they just might save your business from fines and bad publicity.