October 15th is Global Handwashing Day , a day that was originally created for children and schools, but can be celebrated by anyone promoting handwashing with soap. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. However, Global Handwashing has since expanded to include everyone, including all types of workplaces where hand hygiene continues to be a priority.
Germs and bacteria that cause common illnesses are invisible to the naked eye. Whether you are in a workplace, public facility, leisure environment or educational facility, germs are spread from person-to-person and by touching everyday surfaces. In fact, according to a recent presentation by Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona, “we share more common surfaces, or fomites, with more people than ever before in history.”
Enclosed environments—like the workplace—where people are working or interacting in close proximity with one another are particularly at higher risk of the spread of germs. Poor hygiene will lead to increased illness and can result in disruption cost, lost productivity, reduced employee efficiency through illness at work and lower morale.
At least 40 percent of workers do not wash their hands often, or long enough, to protect against the spread of germs.
Approximately 65 percent of maintenance and construction workers and 47 percent of office workers wash their hands less than five times a day
Since our hands are responsible for the spread of 80% of common infectious diseases, effective hand hygiene continues to be universally recognized as the smartest, most cost effective means of infection control in the workplace—helping to minimize wasted time and resources and save organizations money all year round.
The average hand washing duration is less than 10 seconds, missing vital areas where germs are commonly found (e.g. under fingernails and on the backs of hands)
Removing all dirt and contaminants from the skin is extremely important. Hands and other soiled parts of the body should be cleaned at least at the end of each work period, prior to breaks, or when visiting the bathroom.
Correct Handwashing technique
Rub palm to palm
Rub palm over back of hand, fingers interlaced
Palm to palm, fingers interlaced
Fingers interlocked into palms
Rotational rubbing of thumb clasped into palm
Rotational rubbing of clasped fingers into palm
The skin should always be properly dried to avoid risk of chapping particularly during cold weather. Clean towels should be available at all times – dirty towels mean exposing the skin to more dirt and the risk of infection. Ideally, ‘single issue’ disposable towels should be used, as the use of ‘communal’ towels can lead to contamination.
Ways to improve hand hygiene in the workplace
Prepare in advance for the ‘flu season’ to minimize the impact of seasonal illness on the workforce and in turn, prevent any loss of service or outputs to customers or service users
Encourage proper hand washing techniques by identifying commonly missed areas
Communicate the proper length of time needed to wash hands effectively, which is for at least 20 seconds, according to the CDC.
Educate employees on the ‘dirtiest’ areas of the work environment—which according to Dr. Gerba include desks and unwashed coffee cups
When a water supply is not available or when hand washing facilities are not conveniently located, hand sanitizers, such as Deb InstantFOAM®, can be used to complement normal hand washing
Use the appropriate product—avoid cleansers that are too harsh, as they can make people less likely to wash their hands or even lead to skin conditions such as occupational dermatitis
In addition to the frequency and technique of hand washing, the format for how products are used is very important in the daily challenge of implementing effective skin care practices. Wall-mounted cartridge dispensing systems have long been recognized as the overall 'best practice' solution for delivering general skin care products. With a closed, one-time-use sealed system, there is no entrance of air during use, thus minimizing any risk of extrinsic microbial contamination. As a result, 'fresh' product is dispensed every time. In hygiene sensitive environments, such as healthcare and food sectors, this is of critical importance to help prevent the spread of germs causing infectious diseases and foodborne illness.
Learn how you can get your company involved in Global Handwashing Day on October 15th by visiting Deb’s Global Handwashing Day website and downloading various tools and posters to share around your workplace!
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