The healthy hand hygiene culture must continue

22nd of April 2020 Article by Chris Wakefield
The healthy hand hygiene culture must continue

Chris Wakefield, vice president, European marketing & product development at GOJO Industries-Europe, says we must ensure that the newfound focus on hand hygiene continues going forwards, not only to safeguard against coronavirus but also the many other harmful germs and viruses that can pose a threat to our health.

Healthy hand hygiene practice has increased enormously since the beginning of 2020. The main reason behind this major shift in behaviour is the outbreak of COVID-19, the highly dangerous and contagious infection that is sweeping the globe, and which still remains a threat against public health.

Whilst awareness of good hand hygiene is at all-time high, we must work hard to ensure people don't become complacent about hand washing or sanitising, once the pandemic eventually eases and the lockdown is lifted. It's all too easy to slip back into old habits, yet hand hygiene is essential for good health, having been proven to break the chain of infection and help prevent the spread of harmful germs.

Not only does this ensure greater wellbeing, but it also has numerous knock-on effects that benefit businesses, from enhancing reputation to increased productivity (and profit) thanks to lower levels of staff absenteeism.

Now is therefore a good time for businesses to think about the systems their facilities have in place, and how well they work in influencing hygienic behaviour. This will be incredibly important when ‘life goes back to normal', in order to help maintain high standards of hand hygiene.

Here at GOJO, we believe that there are three pillars required to do this effectively. Firstly, facilities must be accessible. As well as dispensers in washrooms and commercial kitchens, consider placing systems in other high traffic areas.

We are already accustomed to seeing hand sanitising stations in hospitals and additional areas of healthcare, but given the potential impacts on our health, it makes sense they should become a more commonplace sight in other spaces too. The main entrance/exit to buildings, reception and point of sale areas are all ideal spots for this, offering far more people a visual prompt than when dispensers are in washrooms only

It is also worthwhile positioning hand sanitising dispensers next to washroom exits, to offer an additional opportunity for hand hygiene. If people have not washed their hands properly, they can spread germs onto the door handle and the other surfaces they touch when they leave the washroom.

Research has revealed one single contaminated door handle can infect up to 60 per cent of the occupants of a building within just four hours! In office settings, consider placing hand sanitiser bottles on desks and work-stations and installing discreet dispensing systems for common areas such as meeting rooms or shared kitchens.

The second pillar is efficacy. Dispensers should be easy-to-use and formulations and filled with effective products, to reduce resistance to use and make the most of each opportunity to wash. The formulation is incredibly important, as it must have a powerful germ-killing action, yet be kind to skin. After all, if people perceive that frequent handwashing is causing irritation, they are less likely to comply. Where hands are not visibly soiled, hand sanitiser is a good alternative to soap and water.

Last but by no means least, eye-catching notices and posters located around work-stations and at key germ hotspots, such as washrooms, can make a valuable difference when it comes to increasing compliance. They work by not only prompting hygienic behaviour, but also reminding the best techniques for an effective clean.

Good hand hygiene is the first line of defence against the coronavirus, and indeed the many other harmful germs and viruses that exist. By taking proactive steps to help this infection control measure become second nature to everybody, businesses can help forge a healthier future for themselves, their staff and customers, and ultimately their profits.

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