2021 Employee Safety Regulations in the United States

2021 Employee Safety Regulations in the United States

State of the Industry: 2021 Employee Safety Regulations in the United States

Current and Upcoming Employee Safety Regulations in the United States

Note: This blog post was last updated on February 11th 2020. Regulations and guidelines continue to evolve and we will continue to update this post as they come out. 

A Call for Stringent Employee Safety Regulations

Adjusting to new guidelines and regulations is challenging. At the start of the pandemic, individuals didn’t know how to protect themselves, nonetheless their own staff and customers. However, as we learn more and more about COVID-19, protection measures become clearer. With the onset of 2021 and the new administration, employee protection under COVID-19 is top of mind. In fact, in one of his first days of office, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) that called on OSHA to release clear guidance for employers on how to keep their employees safe from COVID-19 exposure. Our goal with this blog post is to centralize all information, regulations and guidelines around employee safety in the foodservice workplace. 


Following Biden’s EO, OSHA released a new set of guidelines on January 29, 2021, called “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.” This set of guidelines calls for implementing a coronavirus prevention program which includes elements such as adopting non-punitive policies for employee absences, ensuring policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-english speaking workers, and implementing protections for workers who raise COVID-19 related concerns. 

Among the guidelines, OSHA advises employers to provide the supplies necessary for good hygiene including providing workers with time for handwashing and posting visual cues within the workplace to promote hand hygiene. 

Provide workers with time to wash their hands often with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) or to use hand sanitizer. Inform workers that if their hands are visibly dirty, soap and water is preferable to hand sanitizer. Key times for workers to clean their hands include:

  • Before and after work shifts
  • Before and after work breaks
  • After blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After using the restroom
  • Before and after eating or preparing food
  • After putting on, touching, or removing PPE or face coverings
  • After coming into contact with surfaces touched by other people

There are also restaurant and food specific guidelines which encourage social distancing, contactless ordering, and more. 

However, these guidelines are recommendations and do not have any enforceable legal obligations. In fact, these guidelines are considered a first step and could be followed by an emergency temporary standard which could be enforceable.


Prior to national legislation, state-specific legislation has set the precedent to include stricter guidelines around employee safety and handwashing. 

New Jersey: Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed an Executive Order establishing new health and safety requirements for employers with employees who are physically present in the workplace, which includes a callout around handwashing. 

  • “Employers must ensure that employees regularly wash their hands, which may include providing additional break time or rearranging the workplace to facilitate better access to handwashing facilities.”

California: California passed Assembly Bill No. 1867 with mandatory handwashing requirements for food sector workers, mandating that employees, “shall be permitted to wash their hands every 30 minutes and additionally as needed.”

Your State’s Regulations and Requirements

For your state plan, use this free tool by OSHA to help you understand what regulations you must comply with. Keep in mind that this resource may be updated in March. For COVID-19 specific requirements, leverage this free guide from our partners at Opus Training. 

Moving Forward in Safety Regulation Compliance

As we become more knowledgeable of the implications of COVID-19, and more aware of the ways we can protect ourselves and our community from its exposure, adhering to new regulations becomes of utmost importance. Even if current guidelines don’t impact your business, it will be less disruptive and possibly less costly to prepare for any future regulation rollouts that can affect how you regulate the safety of your workplace. As more regulations come out, we will continue our efforts to update you here. In the meantime, consider leveraging technology to enhance your business’ SOPs and to comply with safety standards. Integrations worth looking into include packaging, delivery, and sanitation technology.

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A Smarter Approach to Food Safety

A Smarter Approach to Food Safety

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the food industry was evolving. However, the pandemic has demonstrated the need for a more real-time, data-driven approach to food safety, so everyone can stay safe during a crisis. To address the many challenges that the food industry is currently facing, the FDA released the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, which represents a new approach to food safety that leverages technology for more effective and modern processes.

The blueprint is founded on four core principles.

  1. Tech-enabled Traceability: Work towards leveraging new technology that can identify outbreaks and trace the origin of contaminated food quickly.

  2. Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response: Use tools to identify when and where contamination might occur and prevent contaminated products from entering the food supply.

  3. New Business Models and Retail Modernization: Prepare for emerging business models that support new ways to produce and distribute food.

  4. Food Safety Culture: Improve the way businesses address food safety.

Of course, as a food safety tool that can detect contamination and provide data about hand hygiene, we’re excited by the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety. It emphasizes the need for new, technology-driven tools that prioritize public health and safety. If you’d like to explore how PathSpot can help you track and measure your handwashing, just click the button below.

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Five Ways to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

Five Ways to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

As restaurants and bars resume operations across the United States, it’s essential that their operators implement strategies to mitigate risk and keep their employees and customers safe. Though this can evolve into a layered approach, start by encouraging behavior that reduces the spread of COVID-19 in addition to complying with any state or local regulations.

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 by following the below steps:
  1. Stay Home When Feeling SickTrain your team on when they should stay home and when they can return to work. This includes encouraging those who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with another person who has the virus to stay home and monitor their health.
  2. Hand Hygiene: Our favorite of the list! Require your team to wash their hands for a full 20 seconds with soap and water. This is also a good time to make sure your handwashing sinks are accessible and fully functional. Proper hand hygiene is going to be crucial in gaining the trust of your customers. Make sure you’re meeting their demands by tracking and measuring your team’s handwashing habits.

  3. Supplies: Support healthy hygiene behaviors by ensuring you have all necessary supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, and no touch trash cans.

  4. Face Coverings & Social Distancing: Require your staff to wear necessary face coverings and consider using physical markers, such as tape or partitions, to encourage a 6-foot distance between people at all times. Face coverings are most important when physical distancing is difficult.

  5. Signage: Post signs in visible locations to remind your team and customers of protective measures that stop the spread of germs. Download this sign to remind your customers and team of handwashing instructions, commonly missed hotspots while also signaling a safe and inclusive workplace.

For more suggestions on how to handle this uncharted territory, check out these CDC guidelines and this FDA checklist. By implementing practices that minimize risk, you’re not only protecting your customers, but also your employees. If you’re interested in learning about how you can increase the frequency and effectiveness of your team’s handwashing, just click the button below.

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Downloadable Sign: Hands Work Together to Fight Illness

Downloadable Sign: Hands Work Together to Fight Illness

PathSpot stands in solidarity with the Black community against racism and injustice. To quote the National Restaurant Association, “much of our nation’s history has played out against the backdrop of restaurants, including the ongoing pursuit of equality.”

Over the last few weeks we’ve reflected on how businesses can remind their teams of hygiene practices while also signaling a safe and accepting workplace. To help, we created a free, downloadable sign that combines handwashing instructions and frequently missed hot spots with inclusive messaging. To download it, just click this link.Though this sign is intended to be hung up around handwashing stations, you can also place it in customer bathrooms as well as share it digitally.

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COVID-19 Changes to Handwashing

COVID-19 Changes to Handwashing

The Spread of COVID-19 Has Changed the Way the World Thinks About Handwashing. 

The rapid spread of coronavirus and the quick sellout of hand sanitizer at many retailers has put hand hygiene front and center on the global stage. From viral social media posts to regular announcements from public health officials, the focus on handwashing proves that the oldest hygiene solution in the world is still the most effective.

Sanitizer is not a substitute for soap.

Hand sanitizer was first to fly off the shelves, but hand soap is now one of the most sold out items in stores. Hygiene education surrounding COVID-19 is teaching people everywhere that sanitizer is a convenient secondary option when on-the-go, but handwashing is still the gold standard. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this teacher’s “bread experiment” that shows the difference between washing with soap and sanitizer and the effects of cross-contamination.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 12.08.39 PM.png

If it wasn’t 20 seconds, you didn’t wash your hands.

From Kristin Bell’s viral black light image to Dr. Oz’s tutorials or Kristin Chenoweth’s musical TikTok videos, pop culture icons are joining in the effort to educate the public on proper hand hygiene. Thanks to regular reminders from the CDC, the WHO, and a few key visuals, the public is gaining a much deeper understanding of the importance of a full 20-second handwash.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 12.11.00 PM.png

Action Items to Meet the New Standard

With a heightened focus and education on hand hygiene, consumers will have a higher expectation for handwashing in the food industry. PathSpot has compiled aggregate data from scanning millions of hands. We recently released a graphic showing the most frequent contamination “hot spots” that are missed during handwashing.

With this knowledge comes power! Here are some actionable steps you can take at home or with your food handling team to level up your hand hygiene practices.

handwashing+commonly+missed+hot+spots+and +tips+tools

Clean & clip nails

According to PathSpot data, fingertips were the most common source of contamination. Regular nail grooming to avoid accumulating bacteria under long fingernails and using a nail brush like this one with every handwash are great ways to tackle this problem.

Avoid nail polish and fake nails

Food handling teams may prohibit the use of nail polish or fake nails as bacteria and contamination love to cling to the ridges of nail polish or in the microscopic cracks in the paint. For consumers that love their acrylic nails, it’s important to adopt a regular cleaning habit to remove contamination the collects under the nails.

Remove jewelry or sanitize daily

Jewelry is another great place for bacteria to accumulate and even with regular handwashing, bacteria is more difficult to remove when wearing rings. For food handlers, removal of all hand jewelry is important. For the consumer, it will help to take off and sanitize jewelry with an anti-bacterial wipe every day.

Don’t forget your wrists

The most commonly overlooked area in handwashing isn’t even on your hands – it’s your wrists! While they may seem safe, most experts recommend that handwashing should go up to 2 inches past the edge of your palms.

If you are interested in learning more about how the PathSpot hand scanner can detect contamination and ensure handwashing frequency & effectiveness on your team, let us know how we can help!

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Help Your Local Restaurants Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

Help Your Local Restaurants Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

What’s Happening to the Food Industry

While every industry is feeling the economic strain created by COVID-19, the restaurant industry is particularly vulnerable to this swift economic downturn. As one of the few Industries where small independent operators account for the majority of jobs (70%), there are few institutional protections to fall back on. Experts estimate that up to half of the 15 million American restaurant workers will lose their jobs and seek unemployment within the next three months, a loss of employment that will have ripple effects far beyond the food industry.

Dine-in Closures Mandated by State in Reaction to COVID-19.png

So far 49 of 50 states have imposed formal restrictions on dine-in services, forcing these groups to subsist on take-out and delivery. However, take-out and delivery are not enough to keep them afloat. Bo Peabody, restaurant owner and Seated co-founder, explains: “During normal times, delivery and pickup is a nice supplement … It could be 5, or 10, or 15 percent of revenue, but when dine-in goes away, it’s probably better to let everybody go on unemployment.” And that’s exactly what the hardest hit restaurants are doing as owners find it increasingly hard to justify the health risks for such low returns.

Larger and larger numbers of chefs like Jose Andres or David Chang are speaking out publicly about the existential threat the food industry faces and are calling for support from all corners.  That means you.

What You Need to Know

Is it safe to order food?

The short answer is yes. The CDC, FDA and WHO emphasize that there is no evidence to support that there is any meaningful spread of coronavirus through food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is primarily spread through inhaling respiratory droplets, the vast majority of receptors of the virus are found in your lungs and not your digestive tract. In fact, you are probably safer ordering food that has been cooked following food code standards and delivered to you than you are going to the supermarket. If you need to be further convinced on the value of social distancing, check out these helpful graphic from the Washington Post

Safety steps you can take:

Just because it’s safe, doesn’t mean there aren’t precautionary steps you should take to avoid the risk of transmission from the delivery person or from a contaminated surface on your food packaging. When ordering food:

  • Use contactless delivery

  • Leave the outermost packaging (bag) outside of your house to be recycled or discarded later

  • Wash your hands before opening containers of food

  • Transfer all your food to your own plates and use your own utensils

  • Recycle or discard packaging

  • Wash your hands again before eating

How Else Can You Help?

It is important to support restaurants in their time of need and continuing to order takeout and delivery is an important step to take. Participate in events like #theGreatAmericanTakeout and try and order more if you can. Several restaurants are offering cheaper deals during this time, so take advantage. As we mentioned earlier though, it is very unlikely that your favorite independent operators can survive on delivery alone. In order to further support the restaurants you love:

  • Tip generously. As cookbook author, Genevieve Ko, puts it: “give whatever you can above the standard 20%.”

  • Donate to these relief funds that have been set up to support food workers in their time of need.

  • Call for government action by calling your representative and signing this petition. Tell them to support the food industry and that the big chains represent only a third of that industry.

If you need a reminder of why you’re doing this, just order from your favorite restaurant and read this article about restaurant workers feeding hospital workers in this time of need and see how it makes you feel.

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COVID-19 Food Safety Updates for Restaurants

COVID-19 Food Safety Updates for Restaurants

To Our Foodservice Friends, We’re Here For You.

We know these are uncertain times as many teams (big and small) are forced to make heartwrenching decisions in order to weather this storm. During this time, we want to emphasize our unwavering support for you and your teams. We will be sharing this list of restaurant relief funds with our network, encouraging everyone who can to donate. We are proud to work in this industry where, even in tough times, restaurants continue to go above and beyond to support their communities.

Sharing Insights – Food Safety is Still in Our Hands

We know to limit the spread of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to handwash effectively. We’ve collected data from scanning millions of hands, and the data shows common “hot spots” or areas that are frequently missed. Remind your employees to scrub under their fingernails, remove jewelry before working, and be mindful of these commonly missed spots! Want a free version of the below sign? Download a copy here.

Restaurant Dine-in Closures: The Transition to Delivery & Take-out

As of March 19th, most states have mandated the closure of all restaurant dine-in options. Our map below shows the most recent updates from each state. Nation’s Restaurant News reported that visits to QSR are up 11% nationally since the coronavirus outbreak. The closures are calling for dine-in restaurants to pivot to a similar model, employing delivery, curbside pickup, and take-out to drive business until dine-in options can resume.

Toast: How to Manage Your Restaurant During the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Combating Customer Fear

Restaurant customers are more conscious of food safety practices than ever and have an increased level of fear surrounding food options. It’s critical to get the word out to customers that food safety is a top priority, especially during this time. Whether it be including messaging in your take-out packaging or publicizing your food safey technology on social media, communicating with customers will help build trust.

QSR Magazine: Coronavirus Crisis Communications for Restaurants: A Checklist

We Want to Help

  • For any PathSpot partners that must close all operations, we will pause billing during this time.

  • We’re working with our partners to communicate their commitment to hand hygiene to their customers, including sending “My Hands Are Clean” pins for delivery employees and window decals to highlight handwashing verified with PathSpot.

  • We want to share what we’ve learned from analyzing millions of handwashes with real-time detection – download the Hot Spots sign for your location(s).

Please let us know what else we can do to support you!

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Coronavirus Updates from NRN to QSR Magazine

Coronavirus Updates from NRN to QSR Magazine

*Please note the numbers in this post were updated March 13th, 2020. The state of COVID-19 in the US has and will continue to dramatically evolve each day. We hope you find this snapshot in time helpful, and for the latest details, please check out more resources at pathspottech.com/resources/coronavirus.

Taking Action During a Pandemic

Operators throughout the food industry are looking for ways to protect their customers and team from COVID-19 and demonstrate their ongoing commitment to food safety and handwashing best practices. This week, PathSpot had the opportunity to help educate the industry on how to prepare for an outbreak— read more below.

Maintain Handwashing as Priority #1

QSR Magazine: Here’s How Your Brand Should Prepare for COVID-19

“‘We’ve analyzed millions of hand washes at restaurants across the country, and from that data, we’ve gone a little deeper.’ Contamination, Schindler says, can get stuck underneath jewelry, under fingernails, in the crevices of hands, and around nail polish.”

Use Tools to Monitor Critical Safety Practices

Nation’s Restaurant News: These 4 Tools Can Help Restaurants Combat Coronavirus

“New smart technologies and apps could bring your sanitation protocols to the next level during this epidemic.”

Align Motivation for Sick Workers to Stay Home

CNBC: Restaurants rethink paid sick-leave policies as coronavirus outbreak spreads

“As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States rises, companies are reevaluating their sick-leave policies for hourly workers or implementing paid leave for quarantined employees.”

Communicate Efforts to Customers

Restaurant Business: What Should Restaurants Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

“Many operators are communicating calming messages to their customers, ensuring they understand that the restaurant is undertaking proper cleaning and hygiene procedures.” Many PathSpot partners, for example, are wearing “My Hands Are Clean” pins to show guests that they’re going above and beyond to prioritize handwashing.

Ensure Handwashing Compliance

We know handwashing is the most impactful way to prevent the spread of illness, but it’s hard to know for sure if it’s happening well (if at all). PathSpot verifies and monitors handwashing so you can assure your team and customers that you’re taking measures to verify food is handled with clean, contaminant-free hands.

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The PathSpot hand scanner detects fecal contamination that transmits illness. Employees scan hands to check for contamination with a result in 2 seconds. Real-time alerts and a live data dashboard give managers the visibility they need to ensure frequent, effective handwashing and prevent the spread of illness.

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Coronavirus / COVID-19 Facts for Food Service

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Facts for Food Service

*Please note the numbers in this post were updated March 4th, 2020. The state of COVID-19 in the US has and will continue to dramatically evolve each day. We hope you find this snapshot in time helpful, and for the latest details, please check out more resources at pathspottech.com/resources/coronavirus/

Nearly 100,000 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed since December 2019 across 97 countries and six continents resulting in over 3,000 deaths . This informational sheet summarizes facts and best practices for the food service industry in preparation for the spreading virus. As a leader in hand hygiene verification, PathSpot strongly encourages thorough handwashing for disease prevention.

How Does Coronavirus Spread?

Coronavirus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes, as well as from contact with contaminated surfaces.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the virus can also be transmitted through the fecal-oral route. This means that stool may contaminate hands, food, or water.

What Can the Food Industry Do?

Infected food workers could introduce the virus to food by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow the recommended personal hygiene practices.

“To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels.”

— World Health Organization

Government agencies recommend food businesses:

  • Ensure staff and contractors report any physical signs or symptoms, before starting work

  • Provide the correct facilities to enable staff to practice good hygiene

  • Ensure effective supervision of staff to reinforce hygienic practices

“Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.”

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How PathSpot Can Help

Ineffective handwashing is a major contributor to the spread of illness.

In an FDA study on handwashing in restaurants, it was found that 73% of handwashes fail to meet the quality standards required to be effective— when using gloves, compliance falls to just 16%.

PathSpot detects contamination and verifies effective handwashing.

After washing and drying their hands, team members place their hands under the PathSpot hand scanner to check for fecal contamination that transmits Norovirus, E.coli, Salmonella, other foodborne illnesses, and Coronavirus.

Instant Feedback

The 2-second scan gives an instant result. When contamination is detected, team members are directed to rewash and rescan before returning to work.

Data-Driven Insights

On the PathSpot Dashboard, managers can see the frequency and efficacy of handwashing at the team and individual level. Operators will have real-time visibility into handwashing and safety so they can ensure staff are following good personal hygiene practices that reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Learning From Data

PathSpot has generated individualized handwashing data for hundreds of restaurants across the US and beyond. This data provides specific, actionable improvements for managers and team leaders to improve sanitation and reduce the spread of illness.

In an aggregated and anonymous form, this data helps any food provider learn from common trends and food safety mistakes. In this summary, PathSpot shares lessons learned from data on millions of handwashes.

When is Contamination Most Likely?

PathSpot most frequently detects contamination in the early morning and during shift changes— it’s important to ensure team members wash their hands at the start of each shift!

Contamination is regularly detected at a higher rate during the initial period after PathSpot has been installed. Providing real-time feedback on handwashing quality empowers team members with the knowledge to reduce contamination rates in the future.

Another major factor in handwashing effectiveness is manager turnover. When team leaders change, handwashing rates change dramatically (sometimes for the better!).

How Can Handwashing Be Improved?

Remove Rings & Jewelry

PathSpot commonly detects contamination on or near rings. Recent studies involving healthcare workers also found that ring wearing is associated with an increased risk of hand contamination.

Scrub Between Fingers & Under Fingernails

The CDC recommends scrubbing the underside of fingernails with soap and water (or a nail brush) during every handwash. PathSpot also detects contamination on the webs between fingers, which merit additional focus during handwashing.

Avoid Recontamination

After completing a full, 20-second handwash with warm water and a generous amount of soap, it is important to prevent recontamination before returning to work. Dry hands with single-use paper towels, and turn off the faucet with paper towels to prevent recontamination.

See here for a PDF fact sheet of this post.

Find more resources on COVID-19 at pathspottech.com/resources/coronavirus/.

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Coronavirus in the United States

Coronavirus in the United States

*Please note the numbers in this post were updated February 19th, 2020. The state of COVID-19 in the US has and will continue to dramatically evolve each day. 

Public Health Officials Agree: Handwashing is the Best Way to Prevent the Spread of Illness.

Two weeks ago, the first transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed in the United States. Details are still emerging as authorities respond to the rapidly evolving situation, but researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have cited handwashing as a key tool in slowing epidemics, such as COVID-19.

What Are We Up Against?

COVID-19 in the US


Primarily respiratory

Fecal to oral possible

Confirmed Cases:

15 to date


0 to date


UC Riverside Bioengineering; WHO; CDC as of 2020.02.183

Foodborne Illness in the US


Primarily fecal to oral



~128,000 / year


~3,000 / year


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Is Coronavirus an Urgent Problem in the United States?

While it is is fortunate that the U.S. has not yet reported any deaths, coronavirus has had tragic ramifications playing out near the epicenter of the disease in China. More than 70,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, and nearly 2,000 people have sadly passed. Additionally, the global supply chain disruption will cost the world economy billions.

Thankfully in the US, Awareness and Technology Are Saving Lives.

We’re pushing for this same awareness in the foodservice industry.

“Fecal to Oral route…? I didn’t need that visual”

-You, we guess

We agree. It’s gross.

Yet, on average, PathSpot partners are uncovering that 1 in 5 food-handlers are working with a potentially harmful amount of fecal matter on their hands. PathSpot detects trace amounts of feces, empowering your employees to take real-time corrective action. We couple this with an Analytics Suite to create an unprecedented risk management tool for food safety.

You Have the Power to Prevent Disease.

And PathSpot can help.

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