Follow workplace hygiene procedures
This unit is about applying good hygiene practices to keep food safe from contamination. You need to:
- follow the procedures in the place where you work.
- identify and control simple hazards and
- take hygiene measures to make sure nothing gets contaminated, mainly food, but also anything else that might be a risk to the health of customers, colleagues and yourself.
Personal hygiene practices are particularly important in food safety, but also apply to anywhere where poor hygiene is a contamination risk to the health of customers, colleagues and yourself.
The main law on food safety is the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. It set up an authority called Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Its Code (The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code) has a standard for food safety practices and the health and hygiene practices of food handlers.
The laws are different in different states, and local councils also make food safety laws. In some cases, food safety supervisors must be qualified.
Who is it for?
Personal hygiene applies to everybody in the food service industry such as:
- kitchen hands
- catering staff
- food and beverage attendants
- housekeeping staff
- sandwich hands
- cafe cooks
- fast food cooks and
Food safety hygiene applies to any venue that operates a permanent or temporary kitchen or smaller food preparation area for storing, preparing, displaying and serving food, for example:
- commercial catering and retail venues
- event venues
- conference venues
- fast food outlets
- retail food outlets such as sandwich shops and food courts
- tour operators who prepare and serve food at temporary sites.
Follow hygiene procedures
A procedure is a set of steps on how to do something.
Find out the hygiene procedures where you work. In a big organization, they might be written down in a book. Some places have them written on a poster or signs on the wall. In a small workplace, they might not be written down at all and your supervisor will tell you or include them in your training.
Your procedures should cover all you need to meet legal requirements. If they have gaps, you still have to follow everything you legally have to do.
Your workplace should have procedures for:
- personal hygiene:
- regular hand washing
- suitable clothes
- hair (e.g. covered or tied back)
- personal protective equipment and clothing
- handling food and beverages, including storing food
- cleaning and sanitizing:
- hygienic cleaning practices to avoid cross-contamination
- using cleaning equipment, clothes and materials to avoid cross-contamination
- handling and disposing of:
- linen and laundry
You have to follow the procedures, even if they aren't written down.
Check that you understand all procedures that you have to do. If you find them confusing, ask your supervisor or instructor. Then get enough practice doing them so that you can do them correctly and consistently. You also have to know what to do when things don't go exactly right.
Task Write a list of the procedures you have to follow.
Spot the hazard
Contamination means several things:
- transfer of something that could carry microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and spores.
- transfer of something being in the food that is not meant to be there (hairs, earrings, small bits of plastic or glass).
Spot hygiene hazards to the health and safety of customers, colleagues and self. E.g.
- contaminated food
- vermin (cockroaches, rats, and mice)
- airborne dust
- things such as linen, tea towels and towels that may be contaminated with human waste, such as blood and body secretions
- dirty equipment and utensils
- contaminated garbage
- equipment that doesn't work correctly, such as fridge and temperature probes.
You also have to report people in your workplace who don't understand and follow hygiene procedures and could contaminate food, for example:
- people doing the wrong thing in:
- personal hygiene
- food handling
- out-of-date practices
- people who don't follow procedures.
Fix the problem
You might be able to do something straight away if it's inside your individual responsibility.
- The first option is to fix the hazard completely.
- If you can't fix it completely, you could minimize it.
If the hazard is outside your individual responsibility, report it to your supervisor. It will then be their job to control it.
Whichever you do, you still have to follow your organization's procedures and your legal requirements.
Report any personal health issues
You also aren't allowed to handle food if there is a risk of passing on a disease. Report any personal health issues that are likely to cause a hygiene risk. e.g.
- food-borne diseases (e.g.
- airborne diseases (e.g.
- infectious diseases (e.g.
If a personal health issue results in food contamination, you have to report the incident.
Wear clean clothes and any required personal protective clothing. Use only bandages and dressings that your supervisor approves of.
Make sure that things you're wearing can't contaminate food. These include:
- hair accessories
Don't have direct contact with ready to eat food unless it's necessary.
Don't let food become contaminated with any body fluids or tobacco product from sneezing, coughing, blowing nose, spitting, smoking or eating over food or food preparation surfaces.
Make sure that you don't transfer contamination from one thing to another in your workplace. Things that can easily do this are
- infected linen
- items such as linen, tea towels and towels that may be contaminated with human waste, such as blood and body secretions
- dirty equipment and utensils
- spreading bacteria to kitchens from bathroom or bedroom accommodation.
Prevent cross-contamination by:
- use only clean materials and clothes
- following safe and hygienic practices
- washing hands at appropriate times
Your organization should have a specific procedure for washing hands, and you have to follow it correctly and consistently. You need to wash your hands:
- immediately before working with food
- immediately after handling raw food
- before starting work with food
- before starting work with food after a break
- immediately after using the toilet
- immediately after smoking, coughing, sneezing, blowing the nose, eating, drinking, and touching the hair, scalp or any wound.
Your organization will have appropriate facilities for hand washing may include:
- designated hand washing sink.
- warm running water
- single use towels
About getting it wrong
If you don't follow hygiene procedures, somebody could get sick from food you prepared. Lots of things could happen then:
- They could sue your restaurant.
- They could tell their friends to stay away form your restaurant.
- They could report you and get a health inspector to inspect your restaurant.
- Your boss or your organization could be fined.
- The best employees might want to "go somewhere better."
- Your organization might need to give them some kind of coupon for free food and service.
- You could be reprimanded, sacked, or moved to another job.
- You will fail this unit, and then you can't pass any other unit that needs this unit as a prerequisite.
- and so on ...