How To Protect Workers From Infection
Good hygiene in your production facility is important to protect the people and pigs from developing infections. The office, kitchen, break room, bathroom and showers can harbor microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, or fungi) that can make people ill. Bacteria such as pseudomonas, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and others are considered a risk for people sharing living areas such as army barracks. Pork production workers share shower and other facilities and may also have some risk of spreading infections among each other as well as transmit infections to animals. Additionally, with all of the current COVID-19-related health challenges, it is more important than ever to focus on protecting farm personnel from infection. By following some simple rules, you can keep your facilities clean and safe for everyone.
To provide management and workers with information to minimize the spread of infectious disease and keep people and pigs healthy. After reading this How-To, you will be able to:
- Identify key components of biosecurity within swine facilities in order to reduce the spread of infectious disease.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds each time scrubbing all surfaces then rinse under running water. Illustrative videos at https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html
- Hands should always be washed before and after entering animal areas, eating, using the restroom, and touching your face, mouth, eyes or nose.
- Use an alcohol-based (> 60%) hand sanitizer if soap and clean water is not easily available.
- Provide separate areas to wash kitchen utensils and to wash their hands.
- Provide a breakroom for food preparation and meals. Do not have or eat food in animal areas.
Stay Home if You Are Sick
- Follow your farm’s sick-leave policy if you develop signs and symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g. fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea).
Treat Cuts and Scrapes
- Clean and treat all wounds immediately.
- Keep all wounds covered with a clean, dry bandage until healed.
- If needed, contact your healthcare provider for instructions on proper wound care.
- If you are diagnosed with a skin infection, ask your healthcare provider about how to prevent spreading it to your co-workers.
- Follow your farm’s shower-in/shower-out policy. Human hair is an important potential source of pathogen transfer into pig barns. Thus, it is important to soap entire body and hair in every shower.
- Use separate towels, washcloths, soap and clothing for each person. Shower shoes, such as flip flops, can be used to help prevent athlete’s foot.
- A liquid soap dispenser is preferable to bar soap.
- Wash soiled clothing and towels after each use in hot water, with laundry detergent and bleach.
- Follow farm established procedures to disinfect incoming materials. Use special care when disinfecting personal objects that need to enter farms.
- Establish cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces in your facility’s office or living areas. For example, shower and kitchen facilities should be cleaned daily.
- Use an EPA-approved disinfectant or bleach solution (1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water, mixed daily) for cleaning showers, kitchen, and other surfaces.
- Garbage should be removed regularly.
Keeping people and pigs healthy is a key focus of the pork industry’s We CareSM ethical principles. For additional recommendations on protecting farm personnel and animals visit:
For more information and resources related to COVID-19 safety guidelines in swine farms, please visit:
National Pork Board – COVID-19 Resources:
National Hog Farmer: Practical recommendations to prevent COVID-19 in farm workers:
PorkBridge – COVID-19 safety guidelines for essential swine industry employees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkBAmJsXWGA
For more information and resources related to worker health and safety visit National Pork Board’s digital library at: https://library.pork.org/