Throughout the workday, people use their hands to open doors, write reports, shake hands with clients, etc. All these activities expose you to harmful germs and bacteria, and now in the midst of a worldwide Covid-19 epidemic, proper hygiene and disinfection have become more important than ever. About 80% of all infections are transmitted by hands, so implementing effective hand hygiene at work is important. Most Australians spend more time Monday through Friday at work than anywhere else. Plus, a fair amount of workers go to work even when they’re ill, making workplaces a hotbed for bacteria and germs.
Luckily, for most, proper hand hygiene routines, implementing hand sanitiser stations and other hygiene medical supplies can help reduce absenteeism and associated costs by as much as 40%. While washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to make sure your hands are clean of germs, doing so isn’t always a viable option. According to the World Health Organisation, hand sanitisers are the second-best thing. By placing hand sanitising stations in high traffic areas and strategic locations around the workplace, you can encourage your employees to improve hygiene and make the workplace a healthier work environment. By using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser at least a few times a day, the chances of getting sick are reduced by 30%.
The best way to “enforce” the use of hand sanitisers is by keeping them within sight and easily accessible. It’s important to put hand sanitiser stations around and near communal areas and high-touch surfaces, such as the following.
- Exits and Entrances – The doorknob can be a cause of widespread sickness in the workplace. Within two hours, a virus on the doorknob can be picked up by several people within the facility. Besides frequently disinfecting doorknobs and other high-touch surfaces, make sure there’s a hand sanitising station nearby to reduce the spread of infection.
- Break Room, Food Courts and Cafeterias – When food is consumed with germ-ridden hands, getting infected with a couple of diseases is almost certain. One of the germiest spots in office settings is the breakroom and kitchen. Using a hand sanitiser before preparing food can help eliminate some germs.
- Meeting Rooms – These rooms are packed with employees, clients and visitors who probably exchange a lot of handshakes. By providing all meeting rooms with a hand sanitising station, either at the table or near the door, chances of exchanging germs before and after the meeting can be significantly reduced.
- High Traffic Areas – Providing hand sanitisers in high-traffic areas like hallways, recreational centres, airport terminals, etc., will ensure present people stay as healthy as possible. Not only does will this help keep the area clean, but it can also help improve the image of your business.
- Employee Desks – Computer keyboards, desks, phones and mice are high-risk germ transfer points, simply because people touch them constantly. Many employees spend the majority of their workday at their desk where they drink, eat, sneeze and cough, making them a minefield of germs and viruses that can live on the surface for up to three days.
And while providing hand sanitiser stations at key locations is essential to keeping germs and viruses down to a minimum, it’s also important to have the right type of sanitiser. For starters, make sure the product contains at least 70% alcohol. The higher the alcohol content, the more efficient the sanitiser will be at killing germs. Further, look for a 5-log minimum kill rate sanitiser (99.999%), which is a hundred times more effective than a 3-log sanitiser (99.9%). Additionally, consider using foam hand sanitisers, as most people prefer them over sticky gel sanitisers. Consider using sanitisers that contain moisturisers that prevent skin dryness, are dye- and perfume-free in order to reduce skin irritations and allergic reactions.
Lastly, a complete hand hygiene program relies on the employees and visitors actually using the medical supplies provided. Leaflets, newsletters, posters near dispensers with reminders to use the sanitisers and proper washing techniques are essential. Learning how to properly use the sanitiser, how much you should use and how to cover all surfaces on both your hands is essential to its effectiveness. Furthermore, employers should offer educational meetings and seminars to teach and remind employees on how to improve their health and hand hygiene. As an employer, it’s important to lead by example – encourage employees to use the sanitiser by doing it yourself. Don’t forget to stock up on refills during the flu and cold season. Lastly, encourage workers to take sick days when necessary in order to keep viruses and germs away from the office and your healthy employees. All of this will lead to less absenteeism and reduced costs related to productivity loss and hospitalisation.