The small station features fold-up sinks on both sides for easier transport.
The small station features fold-up sinks on both sides for easier transport.

Acknowledging that hand washing is a basic element in growers’ food safety plans, researchers at North Carolina State University have developed prototypes of portable hand-washing stations that can be fabricated for as little as $2,000.

Based on grower feedback during field tests for large commercial growing operations, the N.C. State extension staff went to work on smaller versions, according to a news release.

Mobile hand-washing stations help reduce risksThere are two sizes growers can build with generic, widely available materials such as water storage tanks and simple plumbing parts. The larger version can be fabricated for about $4,000. The smaller version costs about half that. The prices do not include the cost of trailers to haul the stations to field locations.

Rod Gurganus, director of N.C. MarketReady, an outreach program of the university’s Plants for Human Health Institute, and Gary Roberson, an extension specialist in agricultural engineering, led the project.

Gurganus said the goal was to develop affordable, mobile stations to enable growers to better control food safety risks, especially during harvest.

Mobile hand-washing stations help reduce risksStep-by-step photos of the construction of the mobile stations are available on the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Portal website at http://tinyurl.com/hand-washers. The faucets are gravity-fed to help keep the design as simple and inexpensive as possible.

The university is encouraging growers to consult with their local Cooperative Extension Centers for questions about structural integrity when they build their hand-washing stations.