Handwashing feature image

Handwashing Laws For All 50 States

 

The health and safety of your customers is the highest priority when operating a business. In order to protect their wellbeing, laws have been established to maintain a standard of cleanliness and prevent the spread of disease. One such regulation emphasizes hand-washing and the need to post signage in designated areas to indicate this law.

Before jumping into the signage laws and requirements for each individual state, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about handwashing signs.

 

Why Worry About Washing Your Hands?

 

A good chunk of both FDA documents involves the importance of food establishment employees washing their hands since they handle people’s food and can contaminate it, which can lead to foodborne illness. There is a long list of when employees are required to wash their hands, such as after using the restroom, entering the food preparation area, engaging in the actual preparing of food, coughing, sneezing, etc.

 

Diseases are spread by bacteria and germs that are transferred to our hands after we touch surfaces that are exposed to raw meat, after we use the restroom, and even contact with other people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that salmonella, the norovirus, and adenovirus can all be spread by unclean hands. Preventing the spread of diseases is crucial in maintaining a healthy, reputable business. By incorporating handwashing procedures you will considerably improve the wellbeing of employees and customers.

 

What is the Proper Way to Wash Your Hands?

 

As you probably already know since you wash your hands every day, there are certain steps you must take to properly wash your hands. The basic handwashing steps the FDA tells restaurant employees to follow are:

 

  1. Rinse your hands under clean, warm running water.
  2. Apply soap and rub over your hands and fingers and under fingernails for 10-15 seconds.
  3. Thoroughly rinse your hands under clean, warm running water.
  4. Completely dry your hands with a clean, dry paper towel, a heated dryer or a clean, dry hand towel.

 

Most states typically use these handwashing steps as their basis to train their employees on how to correctly and effectively wash their hands while at work.

 

This method of handwashing will increase the effectiveness of removing bacteria and germs from hands. It’s important that employees use antibacterial soap to aid in adequately cleaning hands to aid in the process.

 

Would Using Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers Be More Effective Than Handwashing?

 

Though sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol concentration are effective in removing bacteria, they are not sufficient in removing heavily soiled hands. The CDC suggests that properly washing hands with soap and water will remove caked on dirt and grime better than hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizers can be used immediately after washing your hands to provide extra insurance that you have thoroughly cleaned your hands.

 

Where Do These Rules Come From?

 

The national FDA Food Code is basis for regulations regarding hygiene in restaurants. States can adopt the FDA Food Code outright or adjust this code to the needs of the state. Some  states, counties, and cities have drafted their own food codes and rules or regulations regarding handwashing signage specific to their geographical area. Across the board, most handwashing signage laws are similar in every state since most base their rules off the FDA Food Code. Many state health departments also have created and offer handwashing signs you can print off and use in your food establishment for free. We have provided links to handwashing posters if a state organization offers them below, and we also outlined each state’s food code and handwashing signage rules in the content below, as well as some city or county specific regulations as examples of local laws that may exist. No matter where you are located we encourage restaurant and food establishment owners and operators to verify that there are no additional county or city laws they must follow.

 

Do These Rules Change?

 

The FDA Food Code is updated roughly every 4 years with the possibility of additional supplements being added between the release of updated versions. The most recent addition was released in 2013. You can view the most recent as well as older editions of the Food Code on the FDA website.

 

Do I Have to Post Signage Notifying Employees About Handwashing Procedures?

 

Though there are a handful of states that do not explicitly require handwashing signage to be posted, it is recommended that you provide a sign to promote a safe and healthy work environment. It also undoubtedly helps in gaining the trust of your patrons and customers!

 

In a nutshell, what you need to know is that the basic requirements for restaurants are to have a sign that tells your employees to wash their hands and then place a sign in every restroom and at every handwashing sink in your establishment. And if you have any questions about what your state or local signage rules are or if you need a handwashing poster to use — that’s free — contact your state Health Department or Department of Agriculture, since these two organizations typically oversee the state’s food safety regulations, and then contact your city and county public health officials as one final check.

 

Is There A Difference Between the Signs I Post In Kitchen Areas vs. Bathrooms?

 

There is no difference between signage posted in these areas. Generic handwashing signs can be posted in restrooms, food preparation areas, and other locations where sink facilities are located. In the case of area-specific signs, like those that say “after using the restroom”, make sure to place them in their designated location.

 

What Are The Consequences If I Don’t Post Proper Handwashing Signage?

 

Aside from the obvious hygiene implications, not posting signs could result in legal issues depending on the specific laws and regulations of your state. In order to meet health standards, it may be necessary to post signage. Restaurants that neglect to do so may be subject to further inspection and correction depending on the local or state authority. Section 8-4 of the FDA’s food code outlines the general procedures for inspection that many states have adopted.

 

Are There Additional Signs That Are Required For My Restaurant?

 

Yes, there are other signs that are required for posting in restaurants. You need a sign with your restaurant’s name on it, one announcing your hours, one showing a lunch or dinner special, restroom signs and more. But, aside from these signs, there are even more that your restaurant is required by law to post, including maximum capacity signs, exit signs, labor law signs, no smoking signs, etc. We will be specifically looking at handwashing signage and laws in this article but, if you’re looking for more information on other necessary signs for your restaurant, you can check with your local health department for specific requirements.

 

Legal Disclaimer

 

We did our best during our research to find all applicable handwashing signage laws for each state and we linked to laws and other helpful resources when we could. But, we don’t claim to be lawyers and can’t be held responsible for the information on this page, so it is your responsibility as the reader to ensure that the law and source are correct before you act on the advice given regarding your state. This also includes customizing the sign templates we’ve provided and buying our signs to ensure they adhere to your state’s rules.

If you’re looking for specific handwashing sign laws we have provided a map for you to click below to jump directly to your state.

 

 

Alabama 

 

Alabama’s requirements for employee handwashing signage are pretty straightforward. It’s mentioned at the very least in the Foodservice Employee Health Handbook (FEHH – current date of 9/30/13) produced by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and states:

 

“Post signage that notifies employees of the handwashing requirement.”

 

Even this quick mention of signage is simply a suggestion on how to help employees comply with the larger requirement of washing hands while in the workplace. It is worth noting that the FEHH is either taken from or based off of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code.

 

Further, the same FEHH resource outlines when employees should wash hands and is as follows:

 

“Employees should wash hands immediately after engaging in activities that contaminate the hands, for example:

 

o Entering a food preparation area.

o Before putting on clean, single-use gloves for working with food.

o Before food preparation.

o Before handling clean equipment and serving utensils.

o Changing tasks and switching between handling raw foods and working with RTE (ready-to-eat) foods.

o After handling soiled dishes, equipment, or utensils.

o After touching bare human body parts, for example, parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms.

o After using the toilet ADPH, FEHH, 9/30/13 17.

o After coughing, sneezing, blowing the nose, using tobacco, eating, or drinking.

o After caring for or handling service animals or aquatic animals such as molluscan shellfish or crustacean in display tanks.”

 

There are also some other times when employees should wash hands in this super helpful guide that include:

 

“When should employees wash their hands?

 

Before beginning work and after:

 

  • Using the bathroom.
  • Handling raw food.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Sneezing or coughing touching their hair, face, or body.
  • Cleaning (sweeping, mopping, etc.).
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco or gum.
  • Taking out the garbage.
  • Doing anything that could recontaminate their hands.”

 

Further, official Alabama code related to employees’ need to wash hands is found in Chapter 420-3-22 of The Bureau of Environmental Services State Food Rules (current 2008). This lays out requirements for mobile, temporary, and permanent food establishments. This focuses more on hand washing requirements and has no mention of signage or notice required.

 

It seems that there is no actual law in the Alabama state law relating to handwashing. Rather, as outlined above, the ADPH and Bureau of Communicable Disease have worked to create standards and codes to which food establishments must adhere. The ADPH has also created a great summary of handwashing in food service establishments in Alabama.

 

As far as we can tell there are no additional or unique laws or requirements at the county or city level for handwashing signs. Nonetheless, we’d encourage food service operators to check with the appropriate agencies to be one hundred percent sure.

 

It seems at the very basic level that handwashing signs would be needed at the places where employees would be washing hands. These places are most likely the kitchen and bathroom.

 

The ADPH provides a number of different restaurant related signs including hand washing signs for employees. These can be seen below. We’ve also included an editable template below the free ones provided by ADPH that you can add your logo and other branding to in order to achieve the professionalism and appearance you want.

If you want free signage provided by the state of Alabama you can visit these links:

English Handwashing Sign – Alabama 

Spanish Handwashing Sign – Alabama

Or if you want to customize your own signs, here are our templates:

 

Alabama handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 12
Click to customize this template.

 

Alaska 

 

In the state of Alaska many of the basic requirements for the food service establishment are outlined by the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services. They even offer a quick guide for those considering opening a restaurant in Alaska.

 

Basic requirements related to handwashing contain, but are not limited to, providing hand sinks in areas like restrooms, dishwashing, and food preparation. Each of the areas should contain the following: soap, hand towels, hot water (100℉), and cold water.

 

According to the Alaska Food Code 188AAC31.525 establishments are required to have:

 

“a sign or poster that is clearly visible to employees [that] is posted at each handwash sink used by employees directing employees to wash their hands.”

 

If you live in Anchorage, there is a city-specific Food Code. Though we don’t see any signage requirements that are more stringent than the state code. Further, to our knowledge there aren’t other city specific food codes in addition to Alaska’s state code. Nonetheless, we would encourage food establishment operators to verify this before assuming otherwise.

 

In regards to the FDA, managers are responsible to verify that employees correctly wash their hands and to post signage to notify employees of proper handwashing care and requirements. These are only guidelines published by the FDA and are not federal laws. As explained in the introduction, typically states will do what the FDA encourages by incorporating it into their own state food code in some fashion. This can be seen by Alaska and their state-specific food code signage requirement above.

 

The Alaska Food Safety and Sanitation division released a guide called Standard Operating Procedures for Handwashing, which gives basic instructions for why, who, when, where, and how food handlers should wash their hands. Per the guide, employees should wash hands in the following circumstances:

 

“Food handlers must wash their hands:

○ Before starting work.

○ Before putting on or changing gloves.

○ After using the restroom, (use the restroom sink).

○ After touching their hair, face, or body.

○ After eating, drinking, smoking, or touching chewing gum.

○ Upon entering a food prep area.

○ After cleaning or taking out the garbage.

○ After touching anything that contaminates the hands.

○ After using chemicals.”

To our knowledge there are no specific “employees must wash hands” signs for, nor provided by, the state of Alaska. We don’t see one on the website of Alaska’s Division of Environmental Health Food Safety & Sanitation Program nor anywhere else. The closest one we see is a poster geared towards preventing the spread of illness rather than for a food service establishment. As such, we’ve included a couple of signs that could be used and/or customized for Alaska restaurants looking for a custom “employees must wash hands” sign.

 

Alaska handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 10
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing sign 9
Click to customize this template.

 

Arizona 

 

Arizona state law requires the posting of handwashing signage, as stated by the Arizona Food Code Technical Requirements and found in 6-301.14. This requirement reads as follows:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing lavatories used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

As it further states in this guide (which appears to be the same as the official Arizona State Food Safety Rules within the Arizona Administrative Code, namely Title 9 Chapter 8 Article 1, excepting revision history) it is also a requirement for food employees to clean their hands and parts of the arms that are exposed. They are to do it in specified washing areas that are provided and follow the requirements in 5-202. Furthermore they should vigorously rub their hands and arms together for 20 seconds at a minimum. Specific attention should be paid underneath fingernails and between fingers. It also mentions that an approved automatic handwashing facility can be used to wash employees hands.

 

As far as we can tell, there are no regulations as to the design of the signage to be posted. Further, we see no templates provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Food Safety and Environmental Services website. Though this website does include further information on food safety in the home, food handling, food processing plants, food equipment and cleaning and much more.  

 

The Food Safety & Environmental Services website says it works with county health departments throughout Arizona (for example: Maricopa’s Environmental Services Department) but as far as we could tell, Arizona’s food code is at a state level and the laws governing handwashing requirements and the accompanying signage don’t differ from county to county. Nonetheless, we recommend checking with your local health department to verify this.

 

We were not able to find any specific “employees must wash hands” signage for Arizona but have provided a few customizable templates below. As noted above, the Arizona State Law gives no specifics on what the sign must have on it other than to tell employees that they must wash their hands.

 

 

Arizona Handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 11
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 8
Click to customize this template.

 

In summary, food establishments found in the state of Arizona are required to post signage reminding employees to wash their hands before returning to or beginning work. It is also a law that they are to take certain safety precautions to prevent the contamination of food and spreading illnesses.

 

Arkansas 

 

If you live in Arkansas and are a restaurant operator or owner you will be required to post signs notifying all employees to wash their hands at all handwashing sinks used by employees. These regulations are governed by the Arkansas State Board of Health’s Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Food Establishments. These rules are based off the Arkansas Code, specifically: § § 20-7-101 through 20-7-130, §§ 20-56-201 through 20-56-223, and §§ 20-57-201 through 20-57-208.

 

In particular, it states the following:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

It is worth noting that not only can we not find any specific language or requirements for the actual signage.  There has been confusion on this issue, resulting in a consumer alert issued by Attorney General Mike Beebe on Aug 26, 2006 countering the recent emails of an unspecified company (we assure you, it wasn’t us — Signs.com was established in 2011) giving false information to deceive business owners. In the letter the Attorney General makes the following statements:

 

  1. There are no specifications to handwashing signage, only that it must be posted.
  2. Signage can be self-made if desired.
  3. Signs need not be approved and fines are much lower than what was being mentioned in the letter.

 

Provided below there are free templates available from the State and owners/operators can even make their own if they’d like. As an operator you simply have to inform your employees of the requirement — there are no specifications for handwashing signage.  We’ve also provided some of our own templates to allow for further customization of your company signage.

 

Also of note, the Arkansas Department of Labor has a full listing of required postings for Arkansas employers. Like many other states, Arkansas has specific guidelines for mobile food establishments such as food trucks. It is important to be aware of and look into any unique guidelines or regulations that may be applicable.

 

The official rules and regulations pertaining to handwashing in a food service establishment in Arkansas, which addresses topics like cleaning procedures and correct hand washing training in your establishmen,t can be found in this PDF from Healthy Arkansas.

 

Although there are no required specifications for handwashing signage the Arkansas Department of Health does provide the following sign free of charge:

Hand washing notice – Arkansas

Handwashing sign – Arkansas

Also, the Arkansas Department of Health also provides a number of different handwashing and food protection signs for owners, operators and others.

 

Here are a few more customizable Arkansas handwashing signs you can design here on our website:

 

Arkansas handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 3
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Just remember that when posting handwashing signage in Arkansas that there are no specific requirements of the signage. You simply need to have something posted that informs your employees that hand washing is a must when working in an Arkansas food establishment.

 

California

 

In California, as in many other states, laws around handwashing and signage are outlined in a state food code. California’s is called the California Retail Food Code. The Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Health works with local “environmental health regulatory agencies” to ensure that this code is followed throughout the state in restaurants and other food-related establishments. The main page for all of this information can be found here, while restaurant operators and owners can also visit the actual California Retail Food Code as well.

 

Here are the specific guidelines found in Chapter 3, Article 4, 113953.5:

 

“(a) Except as specified in subdivision (b), a sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be posted at all handwashing lavatories used by food employees, and shall be clearly visible to food employees. (b) This section does not apply to toilet rooms in guestrooms of restricted food service facilities.”

While the California Retail Food Code is extremely comprehensive, we see no other instruction as to what the sign or poster shall or shall not say. Like many other states it appears California leaves it to operators to post the signage and ensure employees know. Any specifics beyond that are left to the owner or operator.

 

We can only assume this is the same throughout the state, but would encourage those working with food to ensure whether any more stringent signage or even specific requirements are necessary at the city or county level.

 

Handwashing requirements are outlined in the same Retail Food Code and can also be found in Chapter 3 Article 4.  

 

The Food and Drug Branch of California does provide some free signage around washing hands. Though these are more generic in nature and not designed specifically to comply with the requirement to let employees know that handwashing is a must.  Beyond those signs we could not find any state or county provided signage. We have provided a few different customizable templates for California food establishments looking for employees must wash hands signs below.

 

California handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 7
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 6
Click to customize this template.

 

The most important things to remember when posting this signage is that while employees are always required to wash hands and there should be signage present at all handwashing lavatories, there are no further requirements for the actual signage according to the California Retail Food Code.

 

Colorado

 

Colorado is very similar in nature to California in which the Department of Public Health and Environment has a Retail Food Establishment Rules & Regulations that is based off of the Colorado Revised Statutes. This document is what regulates Colorado food establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, and more.

 

Having said that, as far as we can tell Colorado does not have a law requiring the postage of employee hand washing signs. Although it is recommended that owners and operators verify this as the Retail Food Rules may change with time. Or we may have simply missed it!

 

While our research didn’t turn up any laws about posting signs, we did uncover a few interesting laws pertaining to the proper handwashing techniques and procedures (these are found in Chapter 2-4 Personal Cleanliness”). They are as follows:

 

  • Hand antiseptics may be used in addition, to but not in place of, proper handwashing (2-404 of Retail Food Regulations).
  • The manager or supervisor is to verify that employees are washing their hands correctly through training and monitoring each employee (2-103).
  • Food employees touching prepared foods with bare hands are to do two of the following safety measures (3-401):
    • Double handwashing.
    • Utilize nail brushes.
    • Utilize a hand antiseptic after handwashing.

 

It appears that in most cities and/or counties the state code is sufficient and no other restrictions or requirements in relation to handwashing and signage are in place for restaurants. Notwithstanding, we do recommend ensuring your local Health Department doesn’t have any other guidelines you must follow.

 

Despite having no apparent signage requirement for employees washing their hands, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment provides a number of great resources on food safety, in particular for retail food establishments such as restaurants and grocery stores. These resources include a number of different signs related to food handling.  We’ve included two of these signs below.

 

Proper Handwashing Sign – Colorado

When To Wash Hands Sign – Colorado

We’ve also added a few customizable templates for handwashing signage for employees in Colorado if an owner or operator still chooses, or finds out they are in fact required, to post them.

 

Colorado handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 11
Click to customize this template.

 

Despite no obvious or explicit requirement for posting handwashing signage in Colorado, we highly recommend verifying this through the State Code as well as local Health Departments. Further, even without such a requirement it can only help your establishment garner and retain the trust of your paying customers!

 

Connecticut 

 

Connecticut, like a handful of other states, does not have any specific code or requirement about the need to post signs to remind employees to wash hands before returning to work. While the Connecticut Department of Public Health works with local Health Departments, has provided a resource of “selected regulatory requirements” pertaining to Food Safety, and has their own Public Health Regulations that are in accordance with Connecticut Law, we see no explicit requirement for handwashing signage in Connecticut.

 

Nonetheless we’d encourage any food establishment owner, operator or manager to verify this in the above links and through their local health department.

 

Connecticut’s Public Health Regulations do, however, mention many regulations about providing proper handwashing facilities, maintenance of said facilities, and proper handwashing techniques for employees. A few, but not all, of the regulations listed in chapter 11 are listed below:

 

  • Hand washing stations are to be maintained and easily accessible for employees at all times in the following areas:
    • Food Preparation.
    • Food Dispensing.
    • Bathrooms.
    • Warehousing areas.
  • Employees are to wash hands before work and as often as needed during work, including the following situations:
    • After using the bathroom.
    • After handling money.
    • After touching animals.
    • Before switching between working with raw and prepared foods.
    • After cleaning.
    • After any task that may contaminate the hands.

 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health released an article with detailed directions on how employees should wash their hands.

  1. Moisten hands with water and apply soap.
  2. Lather hands together.
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing palms, fingers, and back of hands.
  4. Rinse hands.
  5. Dry hands with paper towel.
  6. If possible use paper towel to turn off faucet and open door.

 

Further, there is a list of toilet and handwashing facility requirements which also includes specifications for construction, accommodations, lighting and ventilation, water, and waste receptacles are explained. They are current as of 9/1/2009.

 

Not only are we unable to find explicit signage requirements, but we do not see any free signs provided by the state Department of Health. Despite the lack of a specific requirement for signage, Connecticut food establishment employees still must wash their hands on a regular basis and in a specific way. In order to help with this we’ve created a few different customizable handwashing sign templates for Connecticut establishments.

 

Connecticut handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing sign 9
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 8
Click to customize this template.

 

Delaware 

 

Delaware’s state Food Code was updated as recently as May 2014 and replaced the previous Food Code from 2011. It is based on the FDA 2013 Food Code. It is managed by the Division of Public Health, which is part of Delaware’s Health and Social Services. The “State of Delaware Food Code” is officially found in Title 16, 4458 State of Delaware Food Code Regulations.

 

As stated in Chapter 6 section 301.14 of the Delaware Food Code it is required that:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYERS and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

Interestingly, Delaware has similar a similar law governing the sale of ice.  In that code, it gives specific instructions regarding toilet and handwashing facilities:

 

“Signs shall be posted requiring employees to wash hands with soap or detergent before returning to work.”

 

Although this statement is specific to the sale and manufacturing of ice, it may not be a bad idea to incorporate into food service establishments. It also goes further to explain in section 9.2.1.2 that employees must not return to work witout washing their hands after visiting the toilet room.

Neither of these references to handwashing signs in Delaware contain any language as to what exactly the sign should say. Further, we see no evidence that laws or code at the city or county level differ from the new State Code implemented in 2014. Nonetheless, we’d encourage food establishment operators to verify all of this with appropriate authorities.

 

Like almost every other state, Delaware details in great length what is required and appropriate of handwashing by food service employees. Particularly, but not exclusively, in a Q and A published by the State of Delaware about procedures for contacting ready to eat food they detail that if an employee will have bare-handed contact with ready-to-eat food, food establishment management must, but are not limited to;

 

  • Require thorough and frequent hand washing.
  • Explain in writing the routine monitoring of employee hand washing.
  • Explain in writing the program for employee handwashing training.

 

For proper handwashing procedures, it states in the Food Code in section 5-205.11 that proper handwashing facilities must be accessible for employees at all times. It also states that handwashing sinks cannot be used for any other thing than that for which it was designed.

 

Proper hand washing techniques can be found on this free printable poster provided by the State of Delaware.

Hand washing Poster

Beyond the template above and this handwashing FAQ document we were unable to find any free sign templates from the State of Delaware Division of Public Health nor the Office of Food Protection. Consequently, we’ve created several customizable handwashing sign templates for Delaware below.

 

Delaware handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 12
Click to customize this template.

 

In summary, if you have a food establishment you will need to place signs to remind your employees to wash their hands before returning to work. They should be clearly visible and you should monitor your employees to ensure they follow the guidelines for proper hand washing. No further guidelines for the actual signage are given.

 

Florida 

 

The State of Florida requires the posting of handwashing signs at all locations where employees may wash their hands. This is outlined by the Florida State Department of Health in the state code entitled Florida Administrative Code Food Hygiene. In section 64E-11.007 Sanitary Facilities and Controls, it states in (4) that:

 

“Handwashing signs shall be posted in each toilet room used by employees”

 

It explains more in 5 (a-c) of 64E-11.007 Personnel, indicating that a handwashing station is required in all food preparation areas and in each area where mechanical dishwashing machines are operated apart from food preparation areas. And the most important, every handwashing station is required to have handwashing signs posted. As far as we can tell there are no specification requirements for the actual handwashing signs.

 

For permanent food establishments it appears that the laws and regulations are the same statewide according to the above-referenced Food Hygiene code. But, if you own a food truck the rules and regulations are unique for many cities/counties and we advise that you visit or contact your local city/county Health Department to verify if there are any further requirements as it pertains to handwashing signage in Florida.

 

Times when food service employees must wash their hands are outlined in item (5) of 64E-11.005. This part states employees must wash hands:

 

  • After touching bare human body parts.
  • After using the toilet room.
  • After touching animals.
  • Immediately before food preparation and during as often as needed.
  • After engaging in any other activity that can contaminate hands.

 

Further, Florida’s Public Health Department gives detailed directions about procedures to use while engaging in hand washing. The same Department also offers free printable handwashing signs like the one below. One of these signs is which is geared specifically towards employees in food service establishment such as restaurants.

 

Handwashing sign #1 – Florida

Handwashing sign #2 – Florida

Handwashing sign #3 – Florida

 

As there are no specifics as to what the signage must say, we’ve also included customizable Florida handwashing signs below. Feel free to click on any template to customize it with your brand’s colors and logo.

 

Florida handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing 5
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 3
Click to customize this template.

 

In conclusion, Florida does take many steps to ensure your safety while going to eat in food establishments throughout the state. They require that proper hygienic facilities are provided and that all employees keep hands and arms clean while preparing food. Posting handwashing signage is required at all handwashing stations inside the food establishment.

 

Georgia 

 

The Georgia Department of Health is very detailed about its employee handwashing laws. Its 152 page Rules of Food Service (found in Chapter 290-5-14) details just about everything that a food establishment owner needs to know. We will do our best to summarize the laws of employee handwashing and handwashing signage.

 

Our main focus, the Georgia law pertaining to the postage of employee handwashing signage, is covered under section “290-5-14-.07 Physical Facilities.” In 3(D) it states:

 

A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.

 

Despite Health Departments at the county level throughout the state of Georgia, it looks as though they do not have a separate food code or different regulations pertaining to the posting of handwashing signs. As always, we still recommend ascertaining this with your local health department. Oftentimes, mobile and/or temporary food service locations also have different regulations that need to be adhered to.

 

Under the section 290-5-14-.03 (2)(d) it explains one of the responsibilities of the the person in charge is to routinely monitor and ensure that food employees are effectively cleaning their hands. Consequently, in the same part of the code in “(5) Personal Cleanliness,” it explains cleaning procedure, when to wash and, where to wash. It states that employees are to keep hand, arms and/or surrogate prosthetic devices clean by washing them with water and soap for 20 seconds at least. This washing may only be done in a designated handwashing facility and not in any other sink.

 

The State of Georgia requires employees to wash hands after participating in any activity that can contaminate the hands. Activities like this include, but are not limited to,

 

  • After touching bare human body parts.
  • After using the toilet room.
  • After handling animals.
  • When switching between raw food and prepared food.
  • Before putting on gloves.

 

An additional Georgia handwashing requirement is that employees are to wash hands after using the toilet room and then a second time as they enter the food preparation room.

 

The Georgia Department of Health offers some free signs that can be printed and posted to meet the requirements stated in their rules of food service and related to employee handwashing. These signs can be found through the following links:

 

Handwashing Sign – Georgia 

Handwashing Sign #2 – Georgia

Despite these signs being some of the more detailed signage provided by any state for employee handwashing, there is no requirement in the code that employers use these free signs. In fact, one of the signs directly states that “foodservice operators have the option of creating or buying their own handwashing signage to be used in the facility.” Lastly, there are no specific sign verbiage requirements beyond notifying employees of the need to wash their hands. Thus, we’ve provided several handwashing signs that can be used in Georgia food service establishments. Feel free to customize them to match your brand and company colors or logo.

 

Georgia handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing 2
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 11
Click to customize this template.

 

Georgia requires handwashing signs at all handwashing sinks. It does not require any specific language other than a general notice to employees of this requirement and that the signs be clearly visible to food service employees.

 

Hawaii

 

The law for handwashing signage in Hawaii is laid out very nicely in its Food Safety Code, which is enforced by the Hawaii State Department of Health. This is how the code is stated in section “§11-50-72 Numbers and capacities”(e):

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

This statement includes several important instructions. First, signs shall be provided at ALL handwashing sinks used by employees. Second, placement of these signs are important, they must be clearly visible. This would probably mean a place near the handwashing station, around eye level and free of any obstacles. Lastly, it does not appear that there is instruction given as to specific wording on any signage.

 

Required locations of handwashing stations are in the following areas (as found in subchapter 11-50-61 Plumbing system):

 

  • Food preparation
  • Food Dispensing
  • Warewashing areas
  • In or adjacent to toilet rooms

 

As far as we can tell these regulations and the Hawaii Food Code are effective statewide. We could not find any cities or counties that have different requirements than the statewide Food Code. Nonetheless, we always recommend that you check with your city and/or county government before making any final decisions.

 

Proper handwashing is very important in the prevention of foodborne illnesses. On a page posted by the Hawaii Disease Outbreak Control Division it mentions that “handwashing can reduce:

 

  • “The number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 31%
  • Diarrhea illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
  • Respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 21%”

 

The same page provides times when you should wash your hands. These suggestions are general rather than specific to food service employees, but no doubt have application in food service settings nonetheless. They include but are not limited to: before, during, and after preparing food, after using the toilet room, and anything else that may contaminate the hands.

 

The State of Hawaii has a great hygiene education program named The Germ City: Clean Hands, Healthy People. This program provides many free posters and signs for proper handwashing procedures. Again, though these aren’t specific to food service establishments they could definitely be used as the Hawaii Food Code gives no specific instructions as to what the handwashing sign(s) should say.

 

Handwashing sign #1 – Hawaii

Handwashing sign #2 – Hawaii

 

We’ve also included some more applicable “employees must wash hands” sign templates below. These would work great in any type of restaurant or food service establishment in Hawaii.  Click on them to customize them with your own colors or branding. Or contact Signs.com to let us help you design them for free!

 

Hawaii handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 10
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing sign 9
Click to customize this template.

 

Hawaiian law stipulates that there must be a sign or poster at each handwashing sink informing employees that they must wash their hands. These signs must be clearly visible. No further instruction or requirements are given for these signs or posters.

 

Idaho 

 

The State of Idaho requires the posting of clearly visible signage to notify food employees to wash their hands at all handwashing lavatories. This is stated in the Idaho Food Code (informational copy) section “6-301.14 Handwashing Signage” and administered by Division of Health at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The actual text states:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing lavatories used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

Local Health Departments in Idaho are split into seven different sections across the state. Each district, as they are called, contains two or more counties. As far as we can tell the Idaho Food Code is enforced in all seven districts. We have included links below to all seven districts below. If you do not know to which district you belong, follow the link for the clickable map to see the divisions between the seven districts. You can then verify whether there are more stringent or additional handwashing signage requirements in Idaho beyond the Idaho Food Code.

 

District 1 Panhandle

District 2 North Central

District 3 Southwest

District 4 Central

District 5 South Central

District 6 South Eastern

District 7 Eastern Idaho

Clickable map

 

The cleaning procedure for food service employees’ hands is outlined in section 2-301.12 of the Idaho Food Code. Employees are to clean hands and parts of their arms that are exposed, including prosthetics, for 20 seconds minimum. They are to wash in an approved lavatory with a cleaning compound. They need to make sure to scrub ALL areas vigorously including between arms, fingers, fingertips, and underneath fingernails. This is to be followed by a rinse under clean water and a thorough drying. The required locations of handwashing stations are in the following areas: food preparation, food dispensing, warewashing, and toilet rooms.

 

The state of Idaho provides many free handwashing posters for download, as well as posters for many other health related purposes. We’ve included one of the most generic/best ones below.

 

Handwashing sign – Idaho

 

Nonetheless, food service operators need to post specific signage stating the requirement that their employees wash their hands before returning to work. These signs simply need to be visible, as the Idaho Food Code provides no other explicit requirements of the signs. We’ve included a few customizable handwashing sign templates for Idaho restaurants below.

 

Idaho handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

In summary, the Idaho Food Code (remember to verify individual district’s Health Department requirements as well) requires that handwashing signage be posted at all handwashing stations. Signs should be clearly visible by employees. Handwashing stations are required where food will be prepared, where food will be dispensed, warewashing areas and in or adjacent to all toilet rooms.

 

Illinois 

 

In the State of Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code, which is enforced by the Illinois Department of Health, employee handwashing signage is not mentioned as far as we can tell. The Food Service Code does, however, talk about employee personal cleanliness, and the requirements for the construction and location of handwashing facilities around food establishments.

 

One of those most basic regulations is stated in section 750.500. It states that any employee that is sick with anything communicable by foods, which includes boils and infections, cannot work in any food establishment. It goes further in section 750.510 to explain that employees are to keep hands and exposed portions of arms clean at all times. To do this they are to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds scrubbing with soap and warm water.

 

In section 750.512 it lays out when food service employees need to wash their hands, some of these are highlighted below:

 

  • After using the toilet room.
  • After sneezing or coughing.
  • Before putting on gloves.
  • Switching between working with raw foods and prepared foods.
  • After participating in any activity that can contaminate hands.

 

Further resources can be found in the Food Safety section of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) website. Like the Sanitation Code referenced above, we couldn’t find any explicit mention of required signage in a food service setting. Though as seen below the IDPH does provide at least one generic handwashing sign with instructions for correct handwashing.

 

It appears that beyond the state food code in Illinois that some counties and/or cities have created their own more stringent food codes and related laws based off the state one. This is the case with the city of Chicago.

 

Chicago’s Food Code, administered by the Chicago Board of Health, requires employee handwashing signage to be placed in all rooms where there is a toilet, urinal, or water closet.

 

As it is stated in the actual text on page 20:

 

“Signs shall be placed in all rooms, including those containing a urinal(s) or water closet, directing employees to wash their hands before returning to work.”

 

They also require a specific sign of permanent nature posted in all toilet rooms, kitchens, and employee locker rooms that states the following:

 

“No person who is affected with any disease in a communicable form, or is a carrier of such disease, or who has a gastrointestinal disturbance, sore throat or a discharging or infected wound, sore or lesion, shall handle food, drink, utensils, or equipment.”

 

A sign with similar language can be seen below. We would recommend verifying with the Chicago Board of Health that the sign is, in fact, up to date. The Chicago Board of Health also provides a generic how-to handwashing sign and English and Spanish “employees must wash hands” signs. All of these can be found below and on the Healthy Chicago website in the Food Establishment Signs, Regulations & Forms section.

 

Employee Health Notice sign

Chicago Handwashing sign

 

 

Despite no mention in the State Code, according to the Chicago Food Code (Plumbing, Toilet Facilities and Lavatory Facilities Section C), handwashing facilities should be located in three specific places:

  1. In or adjacent to all toilet rooms.
  2. In food preparation areas.
  3. In dishwashing areas.

 

As can be seen, the Chicago Code differs from the State Food Code by requiring permanent employee must wash hand signage, specific language on the signs and that they are posted in specific locations. As such, we would strongly recommend food service operators verify with their applicable health departments on handwashing signage laws and regulations in their area. We’ve included the state’s generic handwashing sign below. We’ve also included a few customizable templates that can be used by Illinois restaurant operators after verifying with appropriate authorities as to what is needed. This way your signage can match your restaurant’s colors, logo, and branding yet comply with any applicable regulations.

 

Illinois handwashing sign – IDPH sign

 

Illinois handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.
Generic Handwashing 5
Click to customize this template.
Generic handwashing sign 6
Click to customize this template.

Indiana 

 

Based on our research and our searching of the Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements of the Indiana State Department of Health, no mention of any signage requirement to notify employees to wash their hands before returning to work is found.

 

While there is no language around signage or posters to notify employees, the State Food Code referenced above does have requirements that say (Section 410IAC 7-24-128) that employees are to vigorously wash their hands and exposed portions of their arms. They are to do this at various time during the day (Section 410IAC 7-24-129), which include but are not limited to:

 

  • After touching bare human body parts.
  • After using the toilet room.
  • After coughing or sneezing.
  • After eating or drinking.
  • Before touching food.
  • Before placing gloves.
  • After participating in any activity that contaminates the hands.

 

Many of the counties in Indiana use the standards that are set out in the Indiana Food Code and do not include additional requirements. Nonetheless, we have not reviewed all of the counties’ health departments and we advise you to check with your applicable county or city health department to ensure there aren’t additional regulations for handwashing signage.

 

The Indiana Department of Health does provide a few different signs that also summarize some of the requirements of handwashing by food service employees, included below.

 

Handwashing Sign #1 – Indiana

Handwashing Sign #2 – Indiana

 

In addition to the signs above, and despite no explicit requirement of such signage, we’ve included several customizable “employees must wash hands” signs that can be used throughout the state of Indiana. Click on the templates below to customize them and contact your local health department to ensure that there aren’t more stringent regulations in your area.

 

Indiana handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 3
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing 4
Click to customize this template.

 

Iowa 

 

Finding the exact reference to any requirement of handwashing signage in Iowa proved to be much more difficult than other states. While Iowa does have an official Iowa Food Code, there is no clear mention of required signage in the preceding link. Nonetheless, The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which administers the Iowa Food Code, does note that the Code is based on the recommendations made by the Food & Drug Administration, which does require such signage.

 

The Department of Inspections and Appeals (or DIA) website links to a list of Basic Requirements for Restaurants and Grocery Stores which does include a specific reference to handwashing signage in Iowa. It states:

 

“Handwashing lavatory with mixing faucets, hot and cold running water are required in food preparation areas and also behind each bar area. Signs notifying employees to wash their hands must be clearly visible at all handwashing sinks.”

This same document also outlines when food employees are required to wash their hands as they work in the food industry.

 

There have been a few changes in the Iowa Food Code in the recent years. As of January 1, 2014 Iowa transitioned from using the 2005 FDA food code to the 2009/2013 FDA food code. As far as we can tell this change to the more current FDA code did not change the signage requirement as outlined above.

 

Neither do we see any local (county or city) Health Department requirements for additional employees must wash hands signage in food establishments. Nonetheless, we recommend checking with applicable local authorities to verify this.

 

The DIA, as referenced above, does not provide any free signage specifically for employee handwashing on its website. As such, we’ve provided several customizable handwashing signs below for your food establishment business in order to comply with the requirement that they be posted at all handwashing sinks. As per the basic requirements listed above and as far as we can tell, no specific language is needed beyond a basic notice to employees.

 

Iowa handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 8
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 7
Click to customize this template.

 

Kansas 

 

Interestingly, the Kansas Food Code is administered by the Department of Agriculture, rather than the Health Department as it is in most states.  The requirements for owners of food establishments, found in the Kansas Food Code of 2012, require employee handwashing signs to be posted at all handwashing sinks in the establishment used by employees. Take care to post them in a place where they will be easily visible for your employees. This law is stated in section 6-301.14, it reads:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.

It appears as though the State Food Code is the only code used throughout Kansas and there aren’t other more stringent food codes at the county or city level. Notwithstanding, we do recommend that owners and operators verify this with their applicable local health officials and offices.

 

In terms of actual handwashing procedures, the Kansas Food Code is very similar to the FDA Food Code regulations. We did, however, find one guideline worthy of note given in a food safety presentation on the state website. It states that employees are to wash their hands after handling money. It’s unclear whether this is a requirement or a suggestion, but either way a very dirty activity that is overlooked by most people and states!

 

The Department of Agriculture in Kansas provides at least a couple of different pertinent signs for the handwashing requirement of food employees. These are found below:

 

Employee handwashing Sign – Kansas

Handwashing Sink sign – Kansas

 

As the law does not stipulate anything beyond notice being given in a clear manner, we’ve included several employees must wash hands signs that can be used in Kansas food service establishments. Customize them according to your business and its colors and comply with the law as stated above at the same time.

 

Kansas handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 10
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 11
Click to customize this template.

 

Kentucky

 

The Kentucky Department of Public Health, and more specifically, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services oversees Food Safety and the Kentucky Food Code. The Kentucky Food Code is found in Kentucky state law in 902 KAR 45:005. In this Food Code there doesn’t seem to be any mention of signage notifying employees of the need to wash hands before beginning or returning to work.

 

However, as of May 1, 2010 Kentucky adopted a newer version of the food code (FDA 2005) with a number of changes. With the adoption of the 2005 code came a requirement for signage informing employees to wash hands. This handwashing notice should be visible to all employees, posted at all sinks and inform them very clearly of the need to wash their hands. The actual language from the 2005 FDA Food Code, 6-301-.13, states:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

Another change that was added in the revision is that employees are now prohibited from touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands. They must use tongs, gloves, or any type of utensil that can be used to avoid contact. Food that is not in a ready-to-eat state shall have minimized contact.

 

To the best of our knowledge the Kentucky Food Code is the most stringent code across the state of Kentucky. There is also a possibility that specific cities or counties use a more detailed food code. Thus, we always recommend calling your city or county health department to verify the specific regulations in your area.

 

While Kentucky offers a couple of different “wash hands” signs (see below), as far as we can tell they offer no specific signage to comply with the requirement as noted above in the 2005 FDA Food Code.

Multi language sign – Kentucky

Lexington Health Department

 

Like many other states Kentucky simply requires a sign that is clearly visible and notifies employees of the need to wash their hands before working. No language, text size or other requirements are outlined. As such we’ve included a few customizable employees must wash hands signs below that will work well for food establishments in Kentucky.

 

Kentucky handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 7
Click to customize this template.

 

Louisiana

 

In Louisiana the state food code is administered by the Department of Health & Hospitals. The primary program for food safety is the Eat Safe Louisiana program. This program seems to be intended to help both consumers and businesses alike as it offers For Consumers and For New and Existing Businesses sections on their website.   

 

The actual state food code (referred to as the Sanitary Code) is officially called the “Louisiana Administrative Code Title 51.” It can be found on several of the above links in a document format. Within Title 51 Part XXIII is the section that deals with Retail Food Establishments. This section can also be found in PDF format.

 

Chapter 9 within the Retail Food Establishments section discusses handwashing by employees. Louisiana requirements are very similar to many other states on how and when to wash hands. Similarly, handwashing sink requirements fall in line including being separate, provided at appropriate places, etc. It is important to note that Louisiana’s Title 51 makes no mention of required posters or signage notifying employees of the need to wash their hands.

 

We can only assume that the same lack of required “employee must wash hands” signage would be found at the Parish and city level as well. Nonetheless, we recommend contacting your Parish’s Health Department to confirm the lack of this requirement in retail food establishments. You can do so by using this interactive map of such Health Departments by Parish. Especially since the FDA food code (2005 version or later) generally requires some kind of signage to be placed at all handwashing sinks.

 

As there is no Louisiana state law requiring employees must wash hand signs or posters within food establishments, we see no free signs provided at the state level like in many other states. Despite the lack of free signs and the legal necessity of having them, we’ve provided several customizable templates below that can help you notify your employees and customers that proper handwashing and sanitation is part of your business.  Click on any of the templates to get started designing your sign.

 

Louisiana handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 12
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 3
Click to customize this template.

 

Maine 

 

In 2013 Maine updated its food code. The 2013 Maine Food Code is based off of the 2009 FDA Code and the 2011 FDA Food Code Supplement. In section 6-301.14 of the Maine Food Code it explains the requirements for handwashing signage. It states:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies Food Employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all Handwashing Sinks used by Food Employees and shall be clearly visible to Food Employees.”

 

The basic requirements for the employee’s cleanliness is outlined in section 2-301.12 of the same food code. Other important regulations pertaining to handwashing can be found in sections 6-301 and 6-401.

 

With this explicit mention of signage at the state level, we would assume county and local Health Departments throughout Maine have the same requirements. Nonetheless, we recommend that owners, operators and managers of food service establishments verify this with appropriate authorities.

 

Also of note is the fact that in the last few years restaurant owners in Maine have received letters that state special handwashing posters must be purchased from a certain company. This company charges $19.95 for each sign. These letters appear to have come from the Maine CDC’s Health Inspection Program. These letters are a scam and this claim is categorically false! Maine has no rule as to which sign is to be purchased, nor that it even has to be purchased to begin with, only that one be posted to notify employees to wash their hands before returning to work. Further, there are no additional requirements on sign size, text size, etc. Employees simply have to be clearly notified of the requirement. For an official release on this attempted scam, jump over to Maine.gov and look for the “Maine CDC Cautions Food Workers About Potential Poster Scams” release.

 

The state of Maine does provide at least one free handwashing sign, shown below. We’ve also included several templates we’ve created that are fully customizable if, as an owner or operator, you’re looking for a more permanent or customized handwashing sign for your restaurant or business.

 

Handwashing Signs – Maine

 

Maine handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 12
Click to customize this template.

 

Remember that the only regulation for the design of the sign you place at all handwashing facilities is that it must notify employees to wash their hands. Personal or custom-made signs are accepted by the state and can be used to give your food establishment signage consistency throughout your building.

 

Maryland

 

In the annotated version of Maryland’s food code there is no mention of handwashing signage. This annotated version is what they have set as the minimum requirement for a Food Service Establishment. In the full version of the Maryland Food Code (link is an automatic PDF download) the only mention it has of handwashing signage is for Special Food Service Facilities (Section .25) These are facilities that only handle food that remains in its original container and does not package the food at the same facility. At these facilities, signs must be posted at all handwashing stations that say the following:

 

“In the interests of public health, please wash your hands thoroughly before entering or handling food.”

 

The physical requirements for sanitary facilities, which include toilet rooms and handwashing stations, can be found in section .18 of the Maryland Food Code. In this section it outlines all the needs of a toilet room and handwashing facilities. We invite you to look those requirements over and draw the attention to the fact that there is no mention of a need for handwashing signage.

 

We see no other information at the city or county level to indicate that restaurants and other food service establishments must post handwashing signs at all handwashing sinks, as is the case in many states.  We still recommend that restaurant operators verify with local health departments about any potential handwashing signage that may be necessary.

 

More information about proper handwashing procedures and handwashing posters provided by the state of Maryland can be found at Wash Your Hands Maryland. Though even these free signs are generic in nature and don’t explicitly say that “employees must wash hands,” as one often sees in restaurant and food settings.

 

If you want signs for your Maryland food establishment or restaurant that clearly state that employees must wash their hands we’ve provided a few customizable templates below. Again, these are not required by the state of Maryland as far as we can tell. Though undoubtedly having these signs in your restaurant, grocery store, etc. is only going to help in creating a place that customers trust and want to visit.

 

Maryland handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 3
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 11
Click to customize this template.

 

In conclusion, there is no requirement in the Maryland Food Code about the need for employee handwashing signage. This does not mean however, that providing your employees and customers a friendly reminder to wash their hands is a bad idea. Everyone can benefit from receiving a reminder to wash their hands.

 

Massachusetts

 

In Chapter 10 of the State Sanitary Code for Massachusetts, specifically the Minimum Sanitation Standards for Food Establishments, there is no mention of handwashing signage. These are laid out as the minimum requirements, this may imply that what is listed in Chapter 10 are only the actual requirements and signage is a presumed necessity. This isn’t clear and we assume that signage is NOT needed according to this document. You can also check out many other Massachusetts food safety regulatory documents as needed.

 

Having said all of that, the full version of the Massachusetts Food Code is called The Merged Food Code. This document is a compilation of the following documents, Federal Food Code, State Food Code, Allergen Awareness Act, and the School Nutrition Bill.

 

In section 6-301.14 of this document it states the following:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing lavatories used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

So due to this requirement in The Merged Code, “employees must wash hands” signage in Massachusetts is a must. Further, it appears as though the state food code is honored statewide for permanent food establishments. Many cities have a specific code for temporary food establishments in their cities. If you have a temporary food establishment in Massachusetts please contact your city government for your area’s special requirements. We’d also even recommend that just to be safe that local health departments be contacted to ensure that there no further requirements are necessary for handwashing signs in permanent establishments.

 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides many educational materials related to handwashing as well as free handwashing signs and posters. The most pertinent one is below.

 

Handwashing poster – Massachusetts

 

Like so many other states the only requirement is that employees be notified in a visible/clear way that they need to wash their hands. Restaurant owners can print a free sign like the one above or can even customize one to their brand and colors. We’ve provided a few of the latter below that will work perfectly as Massachusetts handwashing signs.

 

Massachusetts handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

In short, if you operate a Massachusetts food establishment then you are required to have signage posted that notifies employees of the need to wash their hands.

 

Michigan 

 

Michigan, like many other states, uses a revised version of the FDA Food Code, they call it the Michigan Modified Food Code 2009 (PDF document). According to this food code, and similar to many states, Michigan requires the posting of handwashing signs at all handwashing sinks.

 

Because it is largely based off the FDA code, the requirement is verbatim as other states. The requirement for signage is found in section 6-301.14. It says:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

Like a number of other states Michigan has seen attempts by dishonest companies that try and deceive companies into buying handwashing signage. In September of 2006 the State of Michigan warned restaurant owners against false handwashing flyers with misleading information. As long as the signs are in the correct place and notify employees of the requirement, they can be freely printed, handmade or even custom purchased.

 

It appears as though the state Food Code is applicable in all places and that there is no more stringent laws at the local level. Nonetheless, we recommend confirming with your local Health Department that this is in fact the case.

 

We were unable to find any free signage provided by the State of Michigan. Nonetheless, we’ve provided several handwashing sign templates below that can be customized and used in food establishments. These are fully customizable and can be a durable and permanent solution to Michigan’s requirement that handwashing signs be posted.

 

Michigan handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 10
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 7
Click to customize this template.

 

Minnesota 

 

Minnesota is a very unique state in regards to handwashing. The state provides more than enough educational materials for handwashing in every situation. They place a large emphasis on handwashing in the state but, in their State Food Code they make no reference to the requirement of posting employee handwashing signs even though they do provide many general handwashing posters. Laws that pertain to the handwashing procedures of the employees are in line with the general FDA Food Code standards. The state of Minnesota provides a brief overview of proper hand hygiene.

 

As far as the state Food Code is concerned, there is no requirement to place employee handwashing signage, however, certain cities still require it’s placement. Minneapolis is among these cities. Minneapolis has it’s own independent Food Code in which it is required in section 188.450 that “hand-washing signs shall be posted in the employees’ toilet room, directing them to wash their hands before returning to work.” Minneapolis may or may not be accompanied by other cities/ counties, we highly recommend verifying with your city/county health department about the specific employee handwashing signage laws in your area.

 

Minnesota provides many signs and educational materials pertaining to general handwashing. However, they do not provide anything in regards to employee handwashing signage. We have attached below editable employee handwashing templates for usage in your food establishments if you decide to do so.

Minnesota Handwashing sign 

Minnesota Hand Hygiene sign 

Minneapolis handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 12
Click to customize this template.

 

click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

Mississippi 

 

Mississippi currently uses a slightly modified version of the FDA Food Code. The FDA Food Code, as stated in section 6-301.14.

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

Employee handwashing signage is required to be posted in the State of Mississippi. The state government published a page on their webpage that gives a quick review of the changes made to FDA Food Code. As it can be noted from this page, no change has been made to the law about posting employee handwashing signage.

 

It appears as though the FDA Food Code is accepted statewide in Mississippi. Although we are not lawyers and our research does not include every city/county we highly recommend contacting your local government to verify that there are no laws changed in your specific area.

 

Mississippi does not provide food establishments with any free printable employee handwashing signage to be posted in compliance with this law. Although educational materials to aid in the training of food employees has been provided. To aid in the search for a permanent solution we have provided customizable design templates below that will satisfy these requirements.

 

Mississippi handwashing sign
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Click to customize this template.
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Generic handwashing sign 8
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Missouri 

 

Missouri like many other states has adapted the FDA Food Code as their State Food Code. Missouri has also made small changes to a few of the codes found in the FDA Food Code, although the law pertaining to the posting of employee handwashing signs remains the same. It is stated in section 6-301.14 where it reads,

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

St. Louis and Kansas City both have their own customized food codes. However, the base for both of the food codes is the FDA Food Code. As deep as our research goes, sections 6-301.14 of both of the codes is still the same. A sign is required to be posted to notify food employees to wash their hands at every handwashing station.

 

The state’s webpage has published good educational materials for handwashing. They also provide a few generic handwashing posters but specific employee handwashing signs are not provided. We have included a few customizable signs below.

 

Kansas City Handwashing sign
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St. Louis handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 3
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Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

Montana

 

Montana does not have a food code. What Montana has done is publish the 2013 FDA Food Code with a separate document named Rule for: Retail Food Establishments where they have made changes, or additions to the FDA Food Code.

 

First and most important, the FDA Food Code requires the posting of employee handwashing signage at all handwashing stations. As it is stated exactly in section 6-301.14

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

Montana has made an addition to this section in the food code which is published in chapter 6 of the article Rule for: Retail Food Establishments where it states

 

“Food establishment operators may create and post their own signs or posters for the posting requirement”

This addition is important because the state government gives food establishment operators the liberty to post their own personalized signs in their establishments. While they do offer that kind of liberty it is still important to post a sign that meets all requirements of the FDA Food Code.

 

It appears as though the FDA Food Code is accepted statewide in Montana. To verify this we recommend contacting your local health department.

 

Even though Montana does give the option of creating customizable signs to be posted, employee handwashing posters have been provided by the state health department. These signs can be found below.

 

Handwashing Policy

Employee sign

Employee sign more detailed

 

Montana handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 6
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Generic handwashing sign 8
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Nebraska 

 

Nebraska’s Food Code is based off of the 2009 FDA Food Code, which would generally mean that section 6-301.14 would state that employee handwashing signage is required. However, Nebraska has removed that section from their food code, which means that it is no longer a requirement. Don’t let this fool you, laws and procedures pertaining to employee handwashing remain the same, employees must wash hands after participating in various activities including using the toilet room. The only thing that changes is that it is not required to post a sign to notify them.

 

It appears as though the state food code is honored throughout the health districts in Nebraska. Sufficient research has not been conducted to state for certain. There are many different health departments in the state of Nebraska. We recommend contacting your local health department for more accurate information. Nebraska Health Department Contact Information

 

Nebraska handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 11
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Generic handwashing sign 3
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Nevada 

 

Chapter 446 – Food Establishments of the Nevada Administrative Code (NCA) provide the state’s regulations regarding employee handwashing signs. NAC 446.424 “Handwashing sinks: Availability and use” tells you that:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands must be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and must clearly be visible to all food employees.”

 

This rule was added to the Nevada Administrative Code by the Board of Health by R069-10, and went into effect on December 18, 2013. NAC-446 as a whole was most recently revised in August of 2015.

 

All Nevada food establishments are required to follow NAC-446 rules and regulations, but it’s also good for you to know that if you’re in the Southern region of the state, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) is the public health authority for certain entities. Those entities include: Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson. The SNHD has jurisdiction over every public health matter in this geographical health district. On its site, you’ll find food establishment required signage. Above the list it says that the following signs are “required to be posted as provided in Food Establishments” but then at the bottom, it says that optional signs are handwashing signs for your establishment bathrooms to remind your employees to wash their hands.

 

Southern Nevada Health District is also authorized to adopt the regulations in relation to food establishments outlined in NAC-446 per Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 446.940(2)). So while your restaurant may be in this region of Nevada and you’re under SNHD’s health authority — and their site says handwashing signs are optional — you’re still subject to the requirements of NAC-446, which requires you to place those signs at every handwashing sink.

 

If you have any questions regarding handwashing signage requirements for your restaurant, call the Nevada Department of Health or the Southern Nevada Health District if you’re located in the Southern region of the state. We also recommend calling your city or county health officials to make sure you adhere to any specific rules they might have.

 

We couldn’t find free employee handwashing signs on the Department of Health’s website, but we were able to find two free handwashing signs provided by the SNHD. You can get a sign in English or a sign in Spanish. If you’re not pleased with these signs, feel free to use the customizable sign we’ve created below. And contact us for any design questions or assistance — it’s free!

 

Nevada handwashing sign 2
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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Generic handwashing sign 10
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New Hampshire 

 

The regulations New Hampshire food establishments are required to follow are listed in the Sanitary Production and Distribution of Food (Chapter He-P 2300). While this is what the state requires of its establishments and their owners, no one in this document does it say anything about signage requirements. There are parts about handwashing sinks and toilet rooms, but no exact words are in there saying you even need to put up a sign to remind your employees to wash their hands.

 

But, PART He-P 2303 discusses the incorporation of the Food Code. It says all licensed New Hampshire food establishments have to “comply with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Food and Drug Administration, Food Code, 2009 edition, henceforth known as the Food Code.” The FDA Food Code, which was updated in 2013, requires you to:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.” (6-301.13)

A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.” (6-301.14)

So while the state’s regulations have no specific rules regarding handwashing signage, you are required to comply with the Food Code that mandates you to have signs or posters reminding your employees to wash their hands at each of your establishment’s handwashing sinks.

 

The Food Sanitation Inspection and Licensing Program of New Hampshire inspects and licenses food service establishments. If you wish to manufacture, process, store, or distribute food in New Hampshire, you have to get a license from the Food Protection Section by submitting an application with a fee and meet the requirements of He-P 2300, unless you’re an establishment in one of the self-inspecting communities. Click here to see if your business’s location is in one of these communities.

 

A great resource is the Food Safety and Defense document — given by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services — that provides links to laws and regulations pertaining to food establishments, including links to He-P 2300 and the Food Code.

 

Although our research didn’t result in any other requirements besides clearly placing a sign at each handwashing sink, you should reach out to the DHHS and your specific city and county’s health officials to ensure you adhere to each level’s handwashing signage regulations.

 

We were able to find one free sign about washing your hands from the DHHS. If you want to download that sign, click on the following link:

Free Handwashing sign – DHHS

 

For more options, use one of the signs we have created below. Each sign is customizable, so feel free to take one of the signs and add your own creative touch to it.

 

New Hampshire handwashing sign
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New Hampshire handwashing sign 2
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Generic handwashing sign 11
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Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

New Jersey 

 

The New Jersey Department of Health’s Food & Drug Safety Program oversees the safety of food, providing needed information and inspecting establishments in the food industry. One thing this program is in charge of is enforcing food safety laws, and one of those laws concerns the use of handwashing signs for employees in food establishments.

 

The state’s “Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines” (N.J.A.C. 8:24) makes reference to your requirements as a restaurant owner under 8:24-6.6 “Toilet facilities.” This law reads:

 

“Handwashing signs stating ‘Wash Hands Before Resuming Work’ or words of similar meaning shall be posted conspicuously in all toilet rooms and at each separate sink facility in a retail food establishment. It is also recommended that a statement concerning disease transmission be included in the handwashing sign.”

This means that it is your responsibility as the owner to make or obtain posters that clearly remind your employees to wash their hands and place them in every bathroom and above every sink in your establishment.

 

While conducting our research, we didn’t find any other sign requirements for food establishment owners and operators. However, there could be certain rules out there that only apply to your county or city. We highly suggest you reach out to your city and country health officials, as well as the New Jersey Department of Health, to make sure you adhere to everyone’s signage rules.

 

The New Jersey Department of Health created a sign that you can use and print off for your restaurant. Click the link below if you wish to view and use their free sign.

Free Handwashing sign – New Jersey Department of Health

We’ve also provided a sign below you can use that adheres to New Jersey sign requirements, so long as you post it at each of your handwashing sinks. Click on it to start customizing your sign or contact us if you would like design help. We offer free design services.

 

New Jersey handwashing sign
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Generic Handwashing sign 9
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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New Mexico 

 

The New Mexico Environment Department Food Program was put in place to protect employees, consumers and the public as a whole from adverse health and safety conditions. They are in charge of completing health inspections for food establishments in the state to make sure each establishment complies with the current New Mexico Food Service and Processing Regulations (7.6.2 NMAC). The department gets its authority from state regulations (7.6.2 NMAC) and statutes. The New Mexico statutes relating to the Food Program involve Articles 1, 2 and 5 of Chapter 25-Food. In all of those documents, not one mentions the use or requirements of handwashing signs in food establishments.

 

However, the New Mexico Environment Department is in the process of proposing changes to the food regulations of state restaurants and other food establishments. One of the proposed changes is adopting the  2013 FDA Food Code. If adopted, this means that all New Mexico food establishments — permanent, temporary and mobile — must comply with the following two requirements concerning handwashing signs:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.” (6-301.13)

A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.” (6-301.14)

So while the current state food regulations have no mention of it, if the Food Code is adopted, you will be responsible for posting signs at each of your restaurant’s handwashing sinks to remind your employees to wash their hands before returning to work.

 

In terms of county and city regulations, the city of Albuquerque has a Food Safety Checklist in which they tell restaurant owners:

 

“All hand washing stations must have “wash hands” signs posted.”

If you operate your business in Albuquerque, you already are required to have these kinds of signs posted throughout your establishment. We recommend that no matter what city or country your business is in that you contact your local health officials, as well as the New Mexico Environment Department, to ensure your business follows every regulation there is regarding employee handwashing signage.

 

During our research, we were unable to find any free handwashing posters offered by the New Mexico Environment Department or the New Mexico Department of Health. We were, however, able to find one via the New Mexico Restaurant Association. Click here to view the sign they offer.

 

You may also choose from one of the two signs below that we’ve provided. Each adheres to state regulations, so long as you clearly place it at each handwashing sink, and is completely customizable. All you have to do is click on the sign you like to begin making any changes you see fit.

 

New Mexico handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 3
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Generic handwashing sign 7
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New York 

 

In the state of New York, the New York State Department of Health, more specifically the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection and the Bureau’s Food Protection Program, oversees that food service establishments — more than 90,000 throughout the state — operate in a healthy, safe manner.

 

The above organizations follow the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR). The NYCRR mostly contains state agency rules and regulations that were adopted under the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA). There are 23 Titles in all, but the one you need to be aware of is Title 10, the Health Title. The NYCRR, Title 10 Section 14-5.143 – Handwashing facilities (effective date February 22, 1985) states:

 

“Handwashing signs are to be posted at all handwashing facilities.”

They couldn’t be anymore clear that your responsibility when it comes to handwashing signage is placing signs at every handwashing facility inside your restaurant.

 

In our research we also found a one-sentence requirement from the NY Department of Health’s Health & Safety in the Home, Workplace and Outdoors. In the Food Safety section under Part 14, Subpart 14-1, Section 14-1.143 (effective January 8, 1997) it reads:

 

“Handwashing signs are to be posted at all employee handwashing facilities.”

 

This requirement only has a one-word difference from the NYCRR regulation — employee. This difference is minor, though, because both sentences require you to post signs at any handwashing facility your employees use.

 

Going to the city level, the New York City government created a checklist of required signs for restaurant and bar owners. One such sign is a “Must Wash Hands” sign that is to be placed above each hand sink and be written in the language(s) of your employees and customers.

 

These were the only signage requirements we could find. But we highly suggest that you contact the New York State Department of Health, along with your county and city health officials, to ensure you follow everyone’s rules.

 

We couldn’t find any free posters on the state level, but NYC Health has provided a free handwashing sign for adults, which you can get in three different languages. Click the link below to see the English version of the sign or click here for access to view the other posters.

 

New York City Handwashing sign 

We have also provided a sign you can use in your restaurant that adheres to New York requirements if you place them at each employee handwashing facility. It’s customizable, or if you need any design help, just let us know. We offer free design services.

 

New York handwashing sign
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New York handwashing sign 2
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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Generic handwashing sign 11
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North Carolina 

 

In North Carolina, the head organization over public health and food safety is the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS). Their Food Protection Program develops the standards and rules and monitors the enforcement of said standards and rules for all food handling establishments. You can find those rules that you and all NC food establishments are required to follow in the North Carolina Food Code Manual. 6-301.14

 

This manual, which was effective September 1, 2012, lays down the law for handwashing signage in Chapter 6 Section 301.14, stating:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

Just like is required of you, this rule clearly states that signs or posters are required and you must place them at every handwashing sink in your establishment.

 

The North Carolina Food Code Manual also adopted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code, which provides two parts regarding handwashing signage that food establishments are to follow:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.” (6-301.13)

A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.” (6-301.14)

These are the only sign regulations we were able to find during our research, but we still would advise you to contact the NC DHHS and your county and city health officials to make sure you don’t have to adhere to any other rules one of those organizations might have.

 

As far as free signage options, the NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health provides a sign telling employees to thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom that you can print off and use in your food establishment. Click the link below to view that sign.

Wash Hands Thoroughly sign

Forsyth County has also provided a few printable sign options for its restaurant owners. The link below will take you to Forsyth County’s Environmental Health website page that lists the links to these handwashing sign options, as well as a few other signs you can print and use for free.

Forsyth County Handwashing signs 

We’ve also created two signage options below for your use. And feel free to contact us for any design help — our design services are free of charge.

 

North Carolina handwashing sign
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Click to customize this template.
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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North Dakota 

 

North Dakota’s Food Code (Chapter 33-33-04) is provided by the North Dakota Department of Health and went into effect on April 1, 2012. And while there is mention of an employee’s need to effectively clean their hands, employees receiving training on proper handwashing procedures and what handwashing facilities need to be equipped with, nothing is ever mentioned in this document about handwashing sign requirements.

 

While conducting our research, we did find a news release from 2006 from the North Dakota Department of Health. This news release was sent out after several restaurants in the state received false letters telling them they’re required to post handwashing signs at their handwashing sinks and if they don’t they’d face a large fine or jail time. Division of Food and Lodging Director Kenan Bullinger said while handwashing is an essential practice in all state food service establishments, state law does not require food establishment owners to post signs at their handwashing sinks, nor do they impose a hefty fine or jail time if you don’t post any. He said many restaurants will voluntarily post their own handwashing signs to remind employees to wash their hands and maintain good hygiene, and that restaurants choosing to do so can get free signs from their local public officials or from the state health department.

 

Even though that news release is from nine years ago, it’s the most recent information we can find regarding the state’s stance on restaurant handwashing signage. We recommend contacting the North Dakota Department of Health to ensure state regulations haven’t changed, as well as your city and county health officials to double check that there aren’t rules they’ve set that you’re required to follow at your restaurant.

 

As far as free signage goes, the ND DOH does provide a free sign on their site. Click the link below to print off and use their poster.

Handwash Poster – North Dekota

We’ve also created two signage options for you below. Click on either one to start customizing your sign, and feel free to contact us if you need any design help. We offer free design services!

 

North Dakota Handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

Ohio 

 

Food establishment laws and regulations in Ohio are given in the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code, which has been in effect since January of 2013. This code was put together and is enforced by two organizations: the Ohio Department of Agriculture (Food Safety Division) and the Ohio Department of Health (Food Safety Program).

 

Under this state food safety code, in Section 3717-1-06.2 relating to physical facilities, it instructs all Ohio food establishment owners that:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

Your simple requirement according to that sentence is to have a sign or poster that reminds your employees to wash their hands and then clearly place them at each handwashing sink.

 

From our research we couldn’t find any food codes or signage rules specific to Ohio cities or counties. Columbus City does have its own Health Code, which you can download here, but it doesn’t list anything about having to post signs telling your employees to wash their hands. But we can tell you that in Ohio, they have the state Department of Health, as well as general health districts (county), city health districts and combined health districts (county and city). From what we could find, these different districts help enforce food and public health safety in relation to the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code. Click here to view the Local Health District Directory and find out which health district your food establishment resides in. Once you know your health district, you should contact your local health authorities to find out if they have any city or county specific handwashing sign regulations you are to follow.

 

The Ohio Department of Health’s website has a resources page, which includes several links to handwashing poster options. Below are links to a couple of their posters we think would work great in your food establishment, but you can also visit their site to view all your options:

Always Wash Hands sign 

Handwashing Poster 

We have also provided a signage option below that follows the Ohio state signage requirements. Click the sign to start customizing it so it’s unique to your establishment or contact us to take advantage of our free design services.

 

Ohio handwashing sign
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Generic Handwashing sign 9
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Generic handwashing sign 12
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Oklahoma

 

If your food business resides in Oklahoma, you are required to follow the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Food Service Establishment Regulations (Chapter 257), which has been effective since November 1, 2011. Under Section 310:257-11-27, the state regulation dedicated entirely to handwashing signage, it clearly defines what you as a restaurant owner are required to do:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing lavatories used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

The Consumer Protection Division of the OSDH holds the responsibility within the entire state of monitoring and inspecting all eating and drinking establishments. If you don’t adhere to state regulations and clearly place a sign to remind your employees to wash their hands, you will answer to them via a county sanitarian who performs the on-site inspection of food establishments.

 

As we did some more digging into Oklahoma rules, the Tulsa Health Department said that Oklahoma’s Food Code (more commonly called the Food Service Establishment Regulations), was based off the 2009 model Food Code from the Food and Drug Association. The FDA Food Code, which was most recently updated in 2013, gives food establishment owners two rules to follow in regards to handwashing signs:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

“A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.”

 

As you can see, Oklahoma’s regulation is the same as the FDA’s first regulation, with the exception of using “handwashing lavatories” rather than “handwashing sinks.” Since your state’s code doesn’t say sinks, you are only required to put up a handwashing sign in each lavatory in your establishment that your employees can visibly see when they are in there.

 

To be on the safe side, we encourage you to contact your state Department of Health and your city and county public health officials to ensure you are following each of their signage guidelines.

 

The OSDH does provide you with handwashing posters that you can print off and use for free. The link below takes you to one of those posters, but you can also click here to view some of their clever hand hygiene posters that remind your employees to wash their hands.

Handwashing Poster – Oklahoma 

And feel free to use the following sign that we created for you that adheres to Oklahoma state regulations. You can use our design, customize it to you liking or contact us to use our free design services help you create the perfect sign for your restaurant.

 

Oklahoma handwashing
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Click to customize this template.
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Generic handwashing sign 3
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Oregon

 

Restaurant owners in Oregon are asked to comply with the Food Sanitation Rules. These rules, which have been effective since September 4, 2012, were established by the Oregon Health Authority (Division 150). In Chapter 6 Section 301.14 of this document, it reminds restaurant owners that:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

This means that at each of your establishment sinks where employees wash their hands, you must put up a sign or poster reminding them to wash their hands.

 

These state rules, specifically Chapters 1-8, were adopted from the Food and Drug Administration Food Code. The two parts of this code you need to be aware of and adhere to are:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

“A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.”

 

Another state organization that has handwashing sign regulations is the Oregon Department of Agriculture. In their Food Safety Program’s Retail Food Code, effective since 2013, it provides the exact same rules as the Food Sanitation Rules provided above regarding handwashing signs. Since both organizations rules and the wording are the same, when you follow the law by placing a sign at each handwashing sink, you are adhering to both and cannot get in trouble.

 

These are the regulations our research was able to find, but we strongly advise that you check with the Oregon Public Health Division, as well as your local public health officials, to be sure you adhere to each level’s signage rules.

 

We also discovered during our research some other useful resources relating to food safety and public health you might be interested in. One of those is the Oregon Public Health Division Foodborne Illness Prevention Program Tools for Operators page that has helpful links regarding food sanitation rules, including the state’s Food Sanitation Rules and the FDA Food Code, and another is the Oregon Health Authority’s General Information for Restaurant Owners page with several resourceful links.

 

As far as free signage goes, we were unable to find any online provided by any Oregon health organization. But, we have created two signs for you below that adhere to Oregon state handwashing signage laws that you can use and customize to your liking.

 

Oregon handwashing sign
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Oregon handwashing sign
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Click to customize this template.
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Generic handwashing sign 10
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Pennsylvania

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture administers restaurant inspections within the state. Most retail food facilities are under PDA’s jurisdiction but not all. Six PA counties — Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia — are under their county jurisdictions so the respective county health departments handle the inspections. Click here to see Pennsylvania retail food facility jurisdictions by county. If your facility is in a local health jurisdiction, contact the local health department for licensing and inspection details. Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website for one of the six county or four municipal health departments’ information.

All Pennsylvania food facilities are subject to Title 3 of the Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 57 – Food Protection (3 C.S.A. §§5701 – 5714), and the Pennsylvania Food Code (Chapter 46) is the standard that food establishments are to follow, no matter where they’re located.

In November of 2010, Act 106 was signed into a law and then went into effect in January of 2011. This law established Chapter 57, setting statewide food safety standards through two laws — Retail Food Facility Safety and Food Safety. Under Chapter 57 and these food safety statutes, there is no mention of employee handwashing signage requirements.

The state Food Code provisions were adopted in December of 2003, and then were revised. The new regulations went into effect on May 12, 2014. The Food Code also doesn’t provide verbiage on employee handwashing signage. But, Food Code Section 46.4 adopts the current FDA Food Code (2013 edition) and is the regulation Pennsylvania food establishments must comply with. Two parts of the FDA Food Code tell food establishments what they’re required to do:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.” (6-301.13)

A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.” (6-301.14)

Thus, if you are a retail food facility in Pennsylvania, despite what appears to be no mention of signage in official state law you are in fact required to have employees must wash hands signs posted in your Pennsylvania food facility.

While state law is to comply with the PA Food Code, some counties and cities have their own requirements. Philadelphia is one city. Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health provides its restaurant owners and establishments with “Regulations Governing Food Establishments.” These regulations were approved by the Board of Health, as well as the law and records departments, in 2008 and 2009, and the administration and enforcement of all the rules and regulations listed here can be found in The Philadelphia Code. Under the section titled “Handwashing facilities: numbers and capacities” (§ 46. 941.), restaurant owners are told where to place their employee handwashing signage:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees.”

Even when counties or cities have their own requirements, food establishments are expected to follow the PA Food Code, which follows the FDA Food Code. Typically city codes, if they do exist, will be more stringent than the State Code. But in this case, all requirements simply seem to point to placing a sign or poster at handwashing sinks to remind employees to wash their hands.

Temporary food facilities are also required to comply with handwashing signage laws. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issued a document entitled “Checklist for Retail Food Facilities Operating with Temporary Licenses In PA” and in this document it tells food facility owners that:

 

“Each sink or basin must have a sign indicating, ‘Employees must wash hands’.”

Please note that a temporary food facility is defined as “a food facility that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in a fixed location AND in conjunction with a single event or celebration (such as a fair, festival, carnival or other transitory gathering).”

Also, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services mentions an employee handwashing sign requirement in its permanent license application and plan review for retail food facility applicants. In this application, it tells owners to clearly indicate where the handwashing signage for each toilet room and sink are in the floor plan. This is obviously to comply with the state law as outlined above.

We suggest you contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health or the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to double check that you meet all the state signage requirements. You will also want to contact your city and county departments of health to find out if they have any special regulations regarding employee handwashing signs beyond what the State requires. EatSafePa.com (Eat Safe PA is a program run by the PDA) is another good resource for you to learn more about food safety standards in Pennsylvania.

PDA provides two free employee handwashing signs. The links to each are below if you wish to use them at your establishment:

Handwashing Sink sign – PDA

Wash Hands sign – PDA

We’ve also provided a couple of signs you can use that adhere to Pennsylvania requirements, so long as they’re posted at each of your hand washing sinks. Click on any of them to start customizing your sign or contact us if you’re in need of design help. We offer free design services.

 

Pennsylvania handwashing sign 2
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Pennsylvania handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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Generic handwashing sign 8
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Rhode Island 

 

The Rhode Island Food Code — most recently amended and released by the Rhode Island Department of Health, Office of Food Protection in October 2007 — sets the standard for safely and sanitarily handling food in the food business and for food establishments. Under its Handwashing Signage section in Chapter 6 (Physical Facilities), it reads:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

This sentence is all that’s listed under this section and is similar to several other states since it’s based off the FDA Food Code, which states:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.” (6-301.13)

A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.” (6-301.14)

 

This means that your employee handwashing signs simply need to be visible, clearly state that employees must wash their hands and be placed at all handwashing sinks. Nothing more or less is required of you and your food facility when it comes to handwashing signage according to your state’s Food Code. But the Rhode Island Food Code does say that the person in charge of operations at the food establishment has the responsibility of implementing and monitoring the outlined processes and procedures provided, which includes posting handwashing posters and ensuring your employees thoroughly clean their hands while on the job. On the RIDOH website, it outlines when and how you and your employees should wash your hands, i.e. after “using the toilet, coughing or sneezing into hands, engaging in any activity that may have contaminated hands” and before “handling food, eating or drinking, smoking, brushing teeth, engaging in any activity that involves hand-to-mouth contact.”

 

While our research didn’t warrant for us to check with every single city and county in Rhode Island, we did find that the city of Pawtucket in Providence County has a code that includes legislation adopted through July 23, 2015. Chapter 218 in this code is specifically for food establishments. If you’re a Pawtucket restaurant owner, pay special attention to the “Toilet facilities” and “Lavatory facilities” sections (§ 218-13 and § 218-14). The first section tells owners that handwashing signs have to be placed in every toilet room used by their employees. The second section reminds owners and employees that no employee is to go back to work after using the toilet room until first washing their hands.

 

While the above city example is important to know and you must comply if you run a food establishment there, it reiterates what the state Food Code says.

 

Although we couldn’t uncover any other requirements for handwashing signage for Rhode Island food business owners — for the state or the various counties and cities — we recommend checking with the Rhode Island Health Department and your specific city and county health departments to confirm that more strict regulations aren’t required.

 

Rhode Island’s Health Department doesn’t seem to offer its restaurant owners any free employee handwashing signage or poster templates on their site, but we’ve provided a couple for you to choose from that will keep your food establishment following state regulations if you clearly post them in every restroom above your handwashing sinks for your employees to see.

 

Rhode Island handwashing sign
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Rhode Island handwashing sign 2
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Generic handwashing sign 6
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Generic handwashing sign 12
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South Carolina 

 

In the state of South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) released Retail Food Establishments Regulation 61-25 in July 2014. The intent of this regulation is to ensure food establishments maintain public health and provide their customers with food that is safe and clean. You help provide that assurance by making sure your employees wash their hands and clearly reminding them to do so through handwashing signage.

 

In Chapter 6 – Physical Facilities, under Section 6-301.14 “Handwashing Signage,” this regulation states:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

As the employer, you’re also reminded in this regulation that your establishment’s handwashing sinks must be conveniently located and must provide staff with a proper supply of soap and towels or a hand-drying device. Violating any of the handwashing signage and other food safety regulations will result in your responsibility to correct said violation within the inspector’s given timeframe and will be re-checked during a follow-up inspection.

 

While inside the actual document there is no mention of following the FDA Food Code, the DHEC website’s “Retail Food Establishment Regulation” section provides regulatory information restaurant owners need to be aware of. Under the link to Regulation 61-25, you’ll find a link to an excerpt from the 2013 FDA Food Code, which they say “explains the scientific rationale for citations in Regulation 61-25.” In this Food Code Annex 3: Public Health Reasons, Section 6-301.14 reminds you that:

 

“A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.”

The DHEC also put out R.61-54, Wholesale Commercial Manufacturing that went into effect on May 23, 2008. This regulation is for anyone in South Carolina who manufactures or packages ice sold to be consumed by people. Manufacturing or packaging ice isn’t quite a food establishment, it is an establishment that provides a product that will be consumed by people, which makes it applicable. If you own this type of business, this regulation, under its “Toilet Facilities” section, tells you that:

 

“Approved handwashing signs shall be posted in each toilet room used by production employees.”

The DHEC has even made it easy for establishment owners by providing an already made bilingual handwashing sign that you can print off and use in your establishment. You can find this sign on their website or by clicking here.

 

While our time researching didn’t lend to finding any other requirements for handwashing signage for South Carolina food establishment owners, there could be county or city specific rules we were unable to find online. As such, we recommend that you check with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, as well as with your county and city health department officials, to make sure other rules aren’t required for your specific area.

 

If you don’t want to use the sign the DHEC provided, feel free to click on and customize the sign we’ve created below.

 

South Carolina handwashing sign
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Generic Handwashing sign 9
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Click to customize this template.
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South Dakota 

 

The South Dakota Department of Health’s Food Service Code (ARSD [Administrative Rules of South Dakota] 44:02:07) doesn’t list any regulations regarding the proper use of employee handwashing signage. This document does, however, provide rules about handwashing lavatories and handwashing lavatory supplies. According to the first section (44:02:07:68), handwashing lavatories are required to be in convenient locations and toilet rooms, easily accessible to employees at all times, kept clean and only used for washing your hands. The second section (44:02:07:69), discussing the necessary handwashing lavatory supplies, states that each handwashing lavatory inside a food establishment must provide:

 

(1)  A supply of hand cleaning liquid, powder, or bar soap;

      (2)  Individual disposable towels, a continuous towel system that supplies the user with a clean towel, or a heated-air hand drying device; and

      (3)  A waste receptacle if individual disposable towels are provided.

 

The latter section would be a great place to list handwashing sign requirements, but we were unable to find any mention there or anywhere else in South Dakota’s Food Service Code about rules regarding having and putting up handwashing posters near handwashing sinks in permanent or mobile food establishments.

 

But under the code’s Interpretation section (44:02:07:02), it says:

 

“Interpretation of the rules in this chapter must conform to the public health reasons given after the rules in annex 3, of the Food Code, U.S. Public Health Service, 1995, pages 1 to 69, inclusive, printed September 1995.”

 

This tells us that South Dakota follows the FDA Food Code, and as such should follow its two handwashing sign requirements:

 

A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.” (6-301.13)

A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.” (6-301.14)

The SD Department of Health does provide on its website fact sheets about basic food safety issues for food service establishments, one of which is a free employee handwashing poster that you can print off and use in your restaurant. Click here to view their free sign. The site also has a Handwashing posters section, where the DOH provides other handwashing posters for anyone to print and reproduce as they need to. These signs seem more for schools or businesses catering to kids, but they’re available if you care to use them. Feel free to use one of the Department of Health’s signs or the one we’ve provided below that’s completely customizeable.

 

Although during our research we were unable to turn up any specific handwashing signage requirements for the state of South Dakota in its Food Code or elsewhere, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry. That being said, we advise you to contact the South Dakota Department of Health, as well as your city and county department of health officials, and ask if any requirements exist at any of those levels that you must adhere to in relation to employee handwashing signage besides the FDA Food Code standards.

 

South Dakota handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 12
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Generic handwashing sign 7
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Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Health inspects restaurants, so they are the ones who enforce the food service rules and regulations. And in the state of Tennessee, the DOH lists its food establishment rules and regulations in the Rules of Tennessee Department of Health Bureau of Health Services Administration Division of General Environmental Health in Chapter 1200-23-01 – Food Service Establishment, recently revised in July of 2015. You’ll find employee handwashing signage requirements in 1200-23-01-.06 Physical Facilities, under the “Handwashing Signage” section, which tells all food establishment owners that:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

This chapter also lists your duties as the food establishment owner, saying it’s your job to routinely monitor your employees to make sure they are effectively washing and cleaning their hands when they’re supposed to be. The rules set forth by Tennessee’s DOH about the times employees are expected to wash their hands are specified as follows:

 

  1. After touching bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms
  2. After using the toilet room
  3. After caring for or handling service animals or aquatic animals as specified in 1200-23-01-.02(4)(d)2
  4. Except as specified in 1200-23-01-.02(4)(a)2., after coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, using tobacco, eating, or drinking
  5. After handling soiled equipment or utensils
  6. During food preparation, as often as necessary to remove soil and contamination and to prevent cross contamination when changing tasks
  7. When switching between working with raw food and working with ready-to-eat food;
  8. Before donning gloves for working with food
  9. After engaging in other activities that contaminate the hands.

 

The Tennessee Food Code, Chapter 0080-04-09 – Retail Food Store Sanitation, was revised in June of 2015 and provides the same exact sentence provided in bold above about handwashing signage under its “Handwashing Sinks” subsection. The Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Retail Food Safety Act in 2013. This was the first major change in almost 30 years regarding how the state regulates and inspects its retail food establishments. This Act is commonly referred to as the Food Code and went into effect on July 1, 2015.

 

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture inspects retail food stores — more than 9,500 in the state — and as such, they enforce all retail food establishments to follow the Food Code. TDA and TDOH are sister organizations, working together to ensure all food establishment owners uphold the state’s Food Code regulations.

 

Clearly placing a sign at each handwashing sink is the only requirement we could find for handwashing signs in Tennessee, but we suggest checking with the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and whomever your city and county health department officials are, to ensure nothing else is required of you and your food establishment.

 

The only free handwashing sign we could find on the Tennessee Department of Health’s website is in the MRSA section under the “Athletic Departments” and “School Health Teams” subsections. It says to wash your hands and shows the six-step process of how to correctly wash your hands with pictures. To see this free sign, click here, or use one of our generic signs below that meets Tennessee regulations if you place it in a visible spot at each of your handwashing sinks.

 

Tennessee handwashing sign
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Tennessee handwashing sign 2
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Generic handwashing sign 11
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Generic handwashing sign 10
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Texas

 

In the state of Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services regulates the food safety statutes and laws for all food establishments throughout the state. The rules and regulations you, as the restaurant owner, must follow are called the Texas Food Establishment Rules, or TFER for short, and are found in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 25 (Health Services).

 

In Chapter 228 (Retail Food), Subchapter F (Physical Facilities) under Rule §228.175 (Handwashing Sinks), your message regarding handwashing signs is simple. The exact rule reads as follows:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

The provisions of the abovementioned Rule §228.175 have been effective since October 11, 2015, and what this rule means for you is that you simply need to have a sign that reminds your employees to wash their hands and post it by every sink in your establishment where employees wash their hands.

 

No city or county specific handwashing signage rules turned up during our research, but we still recommend that you contact the Texas Department of State Health Services and your local public health authorities to double check that there aren’t other sign rules you must adhere to.

 

In terms of any free signs provided by the state, the Texas Department of State Health Services has an “Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning To Work” poster available for your use free of charge. The poster is distributed by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and you can access and print off this poster by clicking on the following link:

Handwashing sign – Texas 

For those of you wanting a different sign, one more unique that still follows state rules, we have created one below. You can use the sign as it is, or you can customize it to your liking. Click on the sign to begin customizing it or contact us if you want to take advantage of our free design services.

 

Texas handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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Generic handwashing sign 8
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Utah 

 

Two state organizations are in charge of protecting the state of Utah’s food and public health safety: the Utah State Health Department and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

 

The state health department and its Environmental Sanitation Program put out R392-100: Food Sanitation Rule. This document of food sanitation rules is part of the Utah Administrative Code.

 

In Section 6-301.14 (Handwashing Signage), it clearly states your handwashing sign requirements:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

Reading this should clearly make you aware of your responsibility to have signs and place them at every handwashing sink your employees use. You might also notice that these requirements closely resemble many other state requirements, which is because these states follow the Food and Drug Administration Food Code, and R392-100 states that it is based on the food safety requirements found in the FDA Food Code from 2009.

 

The document itself says it was adopted in January of 2012, but the Utah Department of administrative Services, which is over the UT Administrative Code and its rules, says some of the rules you now see in R392 (Health, Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Services) have only been effective since September 1, 2015, the date of the last codification. Click here to see a list of those rules.

 

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has a Food Compliance Program whose responsibilities include inspecting certain food facilities, i.e. bakeries and grocery stores, and evaluating the employee health, hygienic practices and other factors to ensure your establishment is following correct protocols to adhere to food safety rules. Click here to view a list of Utah Code and Administrative rules that you’re required to follow that are in line with food safety and compliance. One of those is the Food Code, and two parts in this code list your handwashing signage requirements:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

“A sign or poster is required to remind food employees to wash their hands.”

 

Again, this just tells you to clearly place a poster telling your employees to wash their hands at each of your sinks used for handwashing.

 

To ensure you follow all state and local rules, we suggest that you contact the state health department, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and your local health authorities.

 

During our research we found two possible signs you can place in your establishment. The first printable handwashing sign is on the Salt Lake County Health Department website. It’s free to use and can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Handwashing sign – Salt Lake County

We also found a Hand Washing Procedures sign on the Utah State Health Department’s website. The link to that sign is below:

Handwashing Procedures sign – Utah State Health Department 

Feel free to also use our sign, which adheres to state regulations, that we created. Click on it to begin customizing it to become a unique sign for your food establishment.

 

Utah handwashing sign
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Click to customize this template.
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Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

Vermont 

 

Vermont’s Department of Health oversees Vermont’s food code entitled Health Regulations for Food Service Establishments. It went into effect on December 1, 2003. Additionally, there are other regulations for different food and lodging establishments. These different documents have at least one other similar handwashing requirement.

 

For bakeries and according to “Good Manufacturing Practices for Food,” in 9.1.5.5 it states:

 

“Readily understandable signs directing employees handling unprotected food, unprotected food-packaging materials, or food contact surfaces to wash and, where appropriate, sanitize their hands before they start work, after each absence from post of duty, and when their hands may have become soiled or contaminated. These signs may be posted in the processing Good Manufacturing Practices for Food Rule Page 12 of 19 Effective 3/14/2015 room(s) and in all other areas where employees may handle such food, materials, or surfaces

 

It appears bakeries are also subject to the normal food code regulation as noted below.

 

Most food establishments fall under the Health Regulations for Food Service Establishments. Vermont handwashing sign requirements in this document are as follows (Item 32 E):

 

“A sign which reads, ‘Employees Must Wash Hands After Using the Toilet and Before Handling Food,’ shall be placed in each toilet room and handwash sink location where it can be easily viewed and read by employees.”

 

Vermont is one of the few states that requires specific language on their handwashing signs. Another difference is that the State explicitly requires a sign in each toilet room. Most states use language of “clearly visible” and only require signage at handwashing sinks. So if you are a food establishment owner or operator in Vermont make sure you comply with the specific requirements as noted above! We’d also recommend verifying at the local level (contact your local Health Department) to ensure there are no requirements we missed or just more stringent requirements we didn’t find.

 

The Vermont Department of Health helps you adhere to state requirements by providing a handwashing sign you can print off and put up in your establishment. According to their site, this specific sign “is required to be displayed in all the lavatories of every food and food-service establishment. The graphics outline proper handwashing techniques.” The exact wording required is at the top of the sign, and the link to that sign is below.

 

Hanwashing sign – Vermont Department of Health

 

We have also created a sign that you can use that has the wording you need to adhere to state rules. Click on the sign to begin customizing it.

 

Vermont handwashing sign
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Generic handwashing sign 3
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Click to customize this template.
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Virginia 

 

The Virginia Department of Health and Virginia’s 35 local health departments administer and enforce Virginia’s Food Safety. VDH, Food and Environmental Services also conducts the inspections and regulates restaurants, food establishments and mobile food units. The rules they enforce are found in the state’s Food Regulations (Chapter 421). The rule regarding handwashing signage, under 12 VAC 5-421-3045, reads as follows:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

This follows many other states’ regulations since it is based off the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code, which means that your requirements are to have a sign and clearly place it each of your handwashing sinks for each of your employees to see.

 

Another organization in the state, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. VDACS inspects home-based operations, such as grocery stores and bakeries. In their Retail Food Establishment Regulations, effective 2010, under 2VAC5-585-3045, it states the same rules as the VDH’s Food Regulations:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”

 

So if you’re a bakery owner or some other home-based food operation, you are still required to hang a sign in plain sight at your handwashing sinks that reminds your employees to wash their hands.

 

We do recommend that you contact the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and your local public health officials to ensure you adhere to each signage rule there is at each level.

 

The VDH has made and provided a poster that you can print off and place in your food establishment for free. The link to use their sign is below.

 

Germ Poster – Virginia Department of Health 

 

We have also created two posters that adhere to state regulations that you can use. Click on either one to start customizing your sign choice, and if you need it, we offer free design services.

 

Virginia handwashing
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Virginia handwashing sign 2
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Click to customize this template.
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Generic handwashing sign 1
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Washington

 

The Washington Department of Health’s Food Safety Program administers the Washington State Retail Food Code as found in Chapter 246-215 of the Washington Administrative Code. This code is effective as of May 1, 2013.

 

In particular, in 06320, it notes the following of Washington handwashing signage required of food establishments:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands must be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and must be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

 

This is very similar to many other states as it is based off the 2009 FDA Food Code 6-301.14. Thus, the sign merely needs to be visible, clear and at all handwashing sinks. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

We see no other requirements for handwashing signs but would still recommend checking with local authorities and Health Departments to confirm there aren’t more stringent regulations.

 

Because it is the 2009 FDA Food Code other requirements of when, where, how, and even the responsibility of the person in charge are all similar to other states. These requirements can be found in various places throughout the Washington State Retail Food Code.

 

The Washington Department of Health provides a number of handwashing signs and at least one that is specific food employees and complies with the requirement noted above. We’ve included it below.

 

Handwashing Sign – Washington Department of Health 

We’ve also included several more customizable signs that can give your food establishment a more permanent and customized signage option. These handwashing signs for Washington’s requirement are below.

 

Washington handwashing sign
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Washington handwashing sign 2
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Click to customize this template.
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Generic handwashing sign 6
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If you’re posting Washington employee must wash hands signage make sure it is visible, clearly states the requirement and is at all handwashing sinks in your facility!

 

West Virginia 

 

West Virginia has one of the most outdated and confusing websites in order to find the actual state food code as well as information surrounding it.

 

As far as we can tell food manufacturers are governed by 64CSR43 Food Manufacturing Facilities Rule which is administered by the Public Health Sanitation Division within the Office of Environmental Health Services.

 

The more pertinent classification of “Food Establishments” is governed by the Department of Agriculture and Food Establishments Rule, 64CSR17. This law is based off the 2005 FDA Food Code and went into effect in April of 2008. Further, this code governs everything from restaurants, retail food stores, temporary and mobile food locations to vending machines. It’s noted that local health departments throughout West Virginia are in charge of administering this law.

 

It is important to note that the linked Food Establishments Rule above consists of only the changes to the 2005 FDA Code when used in West Virginia. Otherwise, the actual food code as used throughout West Virginia is the 2005 FDA Code.

 

The actual language for handwashing signage in the 2005 FDA Food Code, 6-301.13, states:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES.”

We know of no other requirements for signage within the 2005 Code nor of any city or county specific regulations. Nonetheless, as the code is administered by Local Health Departments we recommend contacting them to be one hundred percent sure.

 

The 2005 Code also outlines handwashing requirements and other regulations pertaining to employee cleanliness. To find these, jump over to the applicable chapters of the Code.

 

Not surprisingly we see no free handwashing signs provided by either the website of the Public Health Sanitation Division nor the Department of Agriculture. As such we’ve provided several templates below that restaurant and food establishment owners can use in their locations.

 

West Virginia handwashing sign
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West Virginia handwashing 2
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Generic handwashing sign 3
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Click to customize this template.
Click to customize this template.

 

Remember that has a food establishment operator in West Virginia the only basic requirement for signage is that it be clearly visible, be present at all handwashing sinks and clearly notify employees of the requirement to wash their hands.

 

Wisconsin 

 

Wisconsin’s state food code is called the Wisconsin Food Code and is found in DHS 196. Additionally, visit over here for food code and regulations pertaining to Wisconsin Restaurants. We’re unable to tell if this latter PDF on Wisconsin Restaurants is a separate section with unique regulations or simply part of the larger Wisconsin Food Code. We assume the latter but we recommend searching both if in doubt.

 

These separate documents may be due to the fact that the Food Safety Division (Department of Agriculture) licenses and inspects food establishments from dairy farms and dairy plants to retail food stores (grocery stores, bakeries, etc.). Concurrently, the Department of Health Services licenses only restaurants. These two agencies work closely together but there is a fine distinction. Though as per the Food Safety page on the Department of Agriculture’s website, “the 2 agencies have adopted uniform rules for all retail establishments, based on the federal model food code.”

 

Beyond this subtle separation the Wisconsin Food Code is very similar to other states. In Chapter 6 (Physical Facilities) it outlines the signage requirements for Wisconsin food establishments:

 

6−301.14 Handwashing Signage. A sign or poster that notifies FOOD EMPLOYEES to wash their hands shall be provided at all HANDWASHING SINKS used by FOOD EMPLOYEES and shall be clearly visible to FOOD EMPLOYEES

Likewise, in 2-103.11, the person in charge must ensure that:

 

(D) EMPLOYEES are effectively cleaning their hands, by routinely monitoring the EMPLOYEES’ handwashing;

 

While the document pertaining to Restaurants, as linked above, is silent on handwashing we would assume that the same requirements apply to restaurants as those just mentioned.

 

Simply put, Wisconsin food establishments, presumably including all restaurants, need to have signs that are clearly visible and notify employees of the need to wash their hands.

 

The Wisconsin Food Code even lays out the actual handwashing procedure, when to wash, where to wash and more in “2-3 Personal Cleanliness”.

 

With the Food Safety Division and the Department of Health Services working with local agencies we would recommend that food establishment/restaurant owners and operators confirm there aren’t any city or county codes that are more stringent than those laid out in the Wisconsin Food Code.

 

The Department of Agriculture’s Food section contains a number of different very helpful resources. These include fact sheets on Employee Hygiene, Handwashing and even Hand Antiseptics. It also provides a free sign that can be posted to fulfill the requirement as noted above. The city of Kenosha also provides a great sign that references the Food Code’s requirement.

Wash Hand sign #1 – Wisconsin

Wash Hand sign #2 – Wisconsin

 

In addition to the templates above if you are looking for more permanent signage options we’ve included several templates that can be customized or printed through us as they appear below.

 

Wisconsin handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic Handwashing sign 9
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 1
Click to customize this template.

 

Regardless of which signs you use make sure you are posting them in a conspicuous manner for your employees to see. Further, ensure that they are at the minimum at all handwashing sinks, though as noted above we’d recommend in restrooms as well.

 

Wyoming 

 

In Wyoming the Division of Consumer Health Services oversees and conducts regular inspections of food service establishments based off Wyoming’s Food Safety Rule. It appears that the Division of Consumer Health Services is part of the broader Department of Agriculture.

 

Laws pertaining to handwashing signage in Wyoming are found in Chapter 8 (Sanitary Facilities and Controls) Section 59 (Maintaining and Using Handwashing Sinks, Signs Posted). In part (b), it states:

 

“A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands shall be provided at all handwashing sinks used by food employees and shall be clearly visible to food employees.”   

It also states in Chapter 15 (Egg Grading Requirements) Section 13 (General Requirements for Buildings and Plant Facilities) the following:

 

“Signs instructing employees to wash their hands before returning to work shall be posted in the restrooms.”

 

This latter requirement is specifically for egg grading plants and facilities and it is not clear if it is also applicable to all food establishments in Wyoming. Even if it isn’t we’d recommend that owners and operators err on the side of caution and place handwashing signs above all handwashing sinks and in restrooms in a clearly visible manner.

 

From our reading it appears that the actual handwashing regulations of Wyoming are very similar to most other states with a focus on using the proper types of sinks, hot water, being careful with raw foods, person in charge’s responsibilities and more. These codes are spread throughout the Food Safety Rule, though the actual act of handwashing appears to be less detailed than in other states. The Consumer Health Services’ website does provide a helpful guide that includes handwashing details for Wyoming Food Service Workers.

 

At the very least Cheyenne has their own codes specific to Food and Food Service Establishments in Chapter 8.40.  It specifically states that any city code is in addition to the state’s Food Safety Rule. On handwashing procedures and handwashing signs it is silent. We gather this to mean that food establishments in Cheyenne would be perfectly fine by following the above mentioned state code for handwashing signage. We’d recommend that local codes and health departments be contacted to verify that no city/county regulations apply beyond what is required in the Wyoming Food Safety Rule.

 

We don’t see any free signs or sign templates from the Department of Agriculture nor the Division of Consumer Health Services for Wyoming’s handwashing requirements. We’ve provided several below that would fill the requirement that they be posted in a visible manner in order to notify employees of the requirement to wash their hands while working. Simply click any one to start customizing or contact us for free design help.

 

Wyoming handwashing sign
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 8
Click to customize this template.

 

Generic handwashing sign 12
Click to customize this template.

 

Ryan Martin

Ryan is a content writer for Signs.com and a communication student at Brigham Young University - Idaho. As an editor for the BYU-Idaho Scroll newspaper, he developed his writing and communication talents to be used in a professional environment. His passion for hockey and all things sports helped him to find a love for writing and analyzing.