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On the farm: the importance of hygiene around animals  

Petting farms are loved by both young and old alike and with spring on the horizon, animal attractions are preparing for an influx of visitors who are keen to get hands-on and learn more about their inhabitants. 

However, it’s important to remember that animals can sometimes carry harmful germs, which is why organisations must take steps to mitigate the risk of infection and protect the health of both visitors and employees. By adopting stringent cleaning and hygiene routines and providing appropriate washroom facilities, attractions can safeguard the health of both visitors and the workforce while avoiding any negative publicity.    

With the rise of social media and online reviews making word-of-mouth more powerful than ever, inadequate hygiene levels and poorly-maintained facilities can have a significant impact on an establishment’s reputation. By ensuring standards are maintained, attractions can enhance customer experience and avoid damaging their flow of repeat business.  

While visits to animal-based attractions can never be considered risk-free, there are some guaranteed approaches that organisations can take to ensure that health and hygiene are at the forefront of both employees’ and visitors’ minds.  

 The first line of attack when it comes to ensuring optimum hygiene levels is the education of staff and visitors, through clear signage. Due to the large number of children visiting sites such as petting farms, signage should aim to be eye catching with a strong pictorial element. Additionally, while many aspects of personal hygiene may appear obvious, the excitement of visiting such attractions can mean that visitors forget to pay attention to tasks such as handwashing. For this reason, placing regular reminders around attractions is essential, but especially in key risk areas such as washrooms, eating areas and animal handling areas. 

Beyond signage, it is vital that attractions have products such as soaps and sanitisers available and visible for all to use. Hand hygiene is crucial in preventing and controlling the spread of bacteria and should be a particular priority while around farm animals. There is no point in encouraging visitors to maintain good hand hygiene if there are no products available for them to do so. Whether this be hand sanitiser dispensers placed in key locations around attractions or soap provided at every sink in the washroom facilities, visitors should be encouraged at every opportunity to wash their hands. 

While organisations should be mindful of the placement of chemicals around animals, most hand products are believed to be safe when used correctly, meaning that there is no excuse for both visitors and employees to not be regularly washing their hands. Organisations should also encourage staff to create a strong hygiene culture, whether that be through the workforce being seen to wash their hands regularly or by keeping pocket-sized hand sanitisers on their person at all times. 

The specific type of product on offer should also be carefully chosen to encourage regular use. While reputable hand sanitiser liquids are believed to be effective in most situations, alcohol-based sanitisers can be harsh on skin and may therefore result in lower take-up. With this in mind, attractions must ensure that adequate facilities are also available to cater for those who prefer to use soap and water.  

In order to encourage good hand hygiene, attractions should endeavour to provide good quality, moisturising soaps and sanitisers, which are user-friendly and kind to skin. However, it is important to remember that there is no one size fits all solution and the specific needs of the attraction should be considered before purchase.  

Attractive dispensers have been found to encourage visitors to use the facilities on offer, with many organisations choosing to incorporate branding onto dispensers or choose colourful designs to attract their visitors’ attention, thus encouraging good hand hygiene. Washroom design can also have a significant impact on children’s decision to use the facilities on offer. Providing appropriate hand washing facilities for children by either placing a stool by the sink or lowering basins can mean that the room is made more accessible.   

With most attractions also providing food outlets, separate spaces away from animals should be available. Furthermore, cafes and restaurants should aim to provide washrooms on entry to eating areas to encourage a good level of hygiene. Areas that are frequently touched such as door handles and tables should also be frequently cleaned using good quality cleaning products.    

Attractions should be prepared for excessively busy times and have contingency stock to ensure that both visitors and employees alike are protected against infection. Regularly reviewing stock levels and identifying peak times for usage, for example the Easter holidays, will ensure that there are no gaps in product availability. Good suppliers should also recommend alternative products and provide additional information on the best options to support thorough levels of hygiene. Knowing that the hygiene products on offer are good quality and fit for purpose will give attractions confidence in their efforts to safeguard the health of both employees and visitors and encourage repeat business throughout the busy spring/summer season.  

Written by: George Hand, Sales Manager for cleaning, hygiene and catering at business solutions provider Office Depot. 


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