Hand hygiene has never been more important. Washing hands with soap and water regularly throughout the day will reduce the risk of catching or spreading viruses. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks.
These days, despite a huge shift to remote working, many employees are being encouraged to return to the office. While the willingness to return varies from country to country, one thing is clear: despite offices restricting the number of employees in an office at any one time, in such conditions, germs and illnesses can still easily spread.
Could employers do more to reassure staff that it’s safe to return to the office? While it can be argued that the responsibility for clean hands lies with the individual, satisfactory washroom conditions and educating people about efficient hand hygiene can play an important part in promoting positive action.
Hand hygiene tips for the workplace
Hand hygiene is the most important advice issued by WHO during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the day in an office environment, hands that touch contaminated surfaces can transmit germs to other surfaces or directly to colleagues. Here are seven tips to prevent the spread of germs.
1. Ensure employees practise good hand hygiene
Washing hands regularly and thoroughly helps to reduce and remove potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. Our research shows that fingertips and thumbs often get missed during hand washing, so here’s a handy guide to getting it right.
2. Introduce simple handwashing initiatives
Simple initiatives like reminders near sinks and basins that encourage workers to wash, dry and sanitise their hands, and discouraging the use of smartphones in the washroom, can make a difference. A smartphone taken into the washroom will invariably end up with germs on it. People who pick up their phone after washing their hands are immediately undoing their good work and could be placing themselves and their colleagues needlessly at risk.
3. Invest in quality washroom solutions
In washrooms, the use of kind yet effective soaps that don’t strip out natural oils will benefit people who refuse to use soap due to its skin-drying nature. Consider installing automatic no-touch soap dispensers and sanitisers, too, which help to promote hand hygiene by eliminating the need for contact and – subsequently – the spread of germs. No-touch paper and linen dispensers for hand-drying also lower the risk of recontamination by reducing the amount of moisture and microorganisms left on the hands after washing.
4. Provide your employees with hand sanitiser
Hand sanitisers to combat spreading should also be easily available around the office. It’s important to place them in and around areas such as washrooms, entrances and exits, desks, kitchens and other high traffic areas. Not only will this help to stop the spread of germs, it will also help to improve the image of your business.
5. Install antibacterial hygienic door handles
It isn’t long before clean hands come into contact with contaminated surfaces. Antibacterial hygienic door handles can provide a barrier between clean hands and dirty door handles, preventing cross-contamination.
6. Ensure communal areas are cleaned regularly
Businesses should ensure regular, thorough cleaning takes place in communal office areas, such as the kitchen and reception. Spray and surface wipes can kill pathogens and prevent cross-contamination, providing up to 24-hour protection for high-usage items such as light switches, stair rails and desks.
7. Protect your business with our disinfection services
It’s recommended that companies undertake a professional deep-clean at least twice a year to prevent the build-up of hidden dirt. Initial are also able to educate staff on correct handwashing procedures to minimise the spread of germs from hands to surfaces.
Could a clean office equal clean hands?
In a poll carried out by Rentokil Initial during the lockdown period:
- 86% of people surveyed expressed concerns about the risk of the virus spreading via door handles through their place of work;
- 87% expect their company to provide them with hand sanitiser;
- 65% of respondents expect their company to provide regular disinfection services;
- 50% believe their office should be cleaned once a day.
A lack of handwashing facilities or awareness programmes puts individuals at risk of transmission of viruses, such as COVID-19, between people. If cleaner, more hygienic facilities encourage better habits among staff, employers should think about investing in them while staff should consider the impact good hand-hygiene can have on colleagues.
Proper investment in workplace hygiene facilities will not only benefit a business by introducing a safer working environment for employees, providing reassurance that’s it’s safe to return to the office, but it may also see businesses experience an increase in productivity as a result.