Did you know more than 80 percent of illnesses can be transmitted by the hands? Did you also know that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand hygiene is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others?
Hand Hygiene in the Workplace
GOJO Industries, manufacturer of hand hygiene and skin care products, took a closer look at this past winter-germ season and found some interesting, icky, and fun facts in a survey that was commissioned with Wakefield Research. While the survey pointed out that 69 percent of working Americans don’t take sick days because they don’t want to miss a day of work, even if they are actually sick, it also showed that of those who haven’t gotten sick this season, the majority of them said hand hygiene is the reason why.
These results demonstrate the important role hand hygiene plays in preventing the spread of illness-causing germs and reducing the risk of illness—anytime of the year, not just during cold and flu season.
An Important Step in Flu Prevention
According to Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease (NFID), in addition to an annual flu vaccine, daily hand hygiene is an important step to reducing the spread of infections that can cause illness.
Ensuring the occupants in your facility practice good hand hygiene, which includes either handwashing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, is important in keeping individuals and the workplace healthy. These practices should be used during key moments, such as before and after preparing food; before eating; before and after caring for someone that is ill; after sneezing or coughing; after using the bathroom; and after touching anything that has been touched by many people, like a grocery cart handle, a subway handrail, or an elevator button.
Winter-Germ Season Tips
To help make sure practicing good hand hygiene is easy as possible this winter-germ season, consider the following recommendations for your facility:
- Schools and businesses can make sure all hand soap dispensers are in good working order with sealed refills available.
- Businesses can establish norms and etiquette for good hand hygiene. Make alcohol-based hand sanitizers easily accessible and available in areas where people are together so hands can be sanitized after sneezing, coughing, and during mealtimes.
- According to a 2007 study sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association, one-in-four people don’t wash their hands after using the restroom. Businesses can place hand sanitizer dispensers near restroom exits to help prompt those who don’t typically wash their hands. Touch-free dispensers, in fact, have been shown to increase use by nearly 20 percent, according to another study published by the American Journal of Critical Care in 2005.
- Individuals can carry portable hand sanitizing wipes or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for use when soap and water are not available or practical.
Remember that good hand hygiene is simple, yet one of the most important steps we can take to reduce our risk of getting ill.