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Simple actions, big impacts: the steps for good handwashing that can protect you and your business

How many times do you use your hands in a day? Eating, touching, holding, cleaning, greeting: the possibilities are endless. In fact, it's estimated that people touch hundreds of different surfaces every hour. 

As they’re used so frequently, our hands are part of the body most exposed to germs and substances in the environment. In areas shared with other people, poor hand hygiene can mean that germs spread quickly via common touchpoints, such as door handles, shopping trolleys, stair rails, buttons – the list goes on. If we do pick up germs from these surfaces, our contaminated hands can transfer viruses to up to 5 more surfaces or 14 other subjects, increasing the risk of further cross-contamination with others. Thankfully, handwashing with soap can reduce the likelihood of germ transmission and prevent the spread of illnesses those germs may cause.

During recent years and events, we’ve all seen just how vital hand hygiene is to protect yourself and those around you, and its significance in our everyday lives won’t change any time soon. To support your efforts to maintain good hand hygiene and celebrate Global Handwashing Day 2023, we’re exploring the simple steps you and your business can take to promote good handwashing.    

Effective handwashing in 8 simple steps

Despite its proven benefits, most people don't wash their hands effectively with soap and water, some skip handwashing entirely, and right-handed people tend to wash their left hand more thoroughly than their right hand and vice versa. What's more, even when they do use soap, people often don't wash their hands for long enough – Michigan State University found that average washing times for men and women were a mere 6.27 and 7.07 seconds respectively.

By following the steps below, you can ensure that you’re washing your hands effectively:

 
  1. Wet hands and apply soap
  2. Rub palm to palm
  3. Fingers interlaced, rub palm to palm and then right palm to the back of the left hand and vice versa
  4. Cusp the back of fingers into opposing palm and rub side to side
  5. Clasp right hand around left thumb and rub in a rotational manner and vice versa
  6. Place fingertips of the right hand on left palm and rub in a rotational manner and vice versa
  7. Rinse hands under running water
  8. Dry hands thoroughly

What can your business do to support good hand hygiene?

From the kettle’s handle to the printer’s buttons, a typical office worker’s hands can come into contact with 10 million bacteria every day.[1] As with any shared space with countless common touchpoints, improving hand hygiene in your office can protect your employees from cross-contamination risks, reducing the potential for illnesses and subsequent absenteeism.

84% of those who work in a shared workplace/building believe it’s important that their employer prioritises creating a safe and hygienic workplace[2], so improving handwashing compliance can also be a way to show your staff how valued they are.

So, how can you support good hand hygiene in your workplace? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Create a positive hand hygiene culture – simple initiatives like reminders near sinks that encourage workers to wash, dry and sanitise their hands or show the most effective handwashing methods can make a difference. As a first step, why not download our free poster on how to wash your hands?
  • Provide appropriate hygiene solutions – for good handwashing, your employees need effective hygiene solutions. You can support their hygiene efforts by maintaining a consistent supply of soap and hand-drying options in washrooms (eg paper towels or hand dryers). No-touch dispensers can also add an additional level of protection by removing a risk touchpoint from the washroom entirely.   
  • Show your support for Global Handwashing Day – every year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day highlights the importance of handwashing with soap for the health, safety and protection of people all over the world. The day aims to spread the word about good hand hygiene to communities, advocates and leaders to help build awareness and promote the need for better hygiene habits and facilities globally.

This year, they’re encouraging everyone to play their role in ensuring ‘clean hands are within reach’ and outlining the need to increase current efforts to achieve global hygiene targets. To learn more about Global Handwashing Day and its mission to achieve hand hygiene for all, click here.

  • Think beyond the washroom – 61% of people working in shared spaces state they’re now likely* to sanitise their hands regularly to manage hygiene risks,2 so the provision of hand sanitising solutions outside the washroom can also support hygiene efforts.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic

As you’ve seen in this blog, there are simple actions we can all take to ensure hand hygiene standards continue to improve. To learn about the solutions that can improve hand hygiene in your business, speak to our experts today.

[1] Dr Charles Gerba, University of Arizona, 2004

[2] Initial, The Global Hygiene Reset, 2021

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