Hand hygiene has never been more critical. 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), providing safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks.
Despite a huge shift to remote work, 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 time, germs and illnesses can still easily spread in such conditions.
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 solutions can play an essential part in promoting positive action.
Hand hygiene is the most critical 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.
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.
Simple initiatives like reminders near sinks and basins that encourage workers to wash, dry, and sanitize their hands, and discourage using smartphones in the washroom, can make a difference. A smartphone taken into the bathroom will invariably end up with germs. People who pick up their phones after washing their hands immediately undo their excellent work and could place themselves and their colleagues needlessly at risk.
Using kind yet effective soaps that don't strip out natural oils in washrooms will benefit people who refuse to use soap due to its skin-drying nature. Washing your hands using a soap dispenser and water, too, 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.
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.
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.
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.
It's recommended that companies undertake a professional deep-clean service at least twice a year to prevent the build-up of hidden dirt. Initial is also able to educate staff on correct handwashing procedures to minimize the spread of germs from hands to surfaces.
In a poll carried out by Rentokil Initial during the lockdown period:
A lack of handwashing facilities or awareness programmes puts individuals at risk of transmission of viruses, such as COVID-19, between people. Suppose cleaner, more hygienic facilities encourage better habits among staff. In that case, employers should consider investing in them while the team should consider the impact of good hand hygiene 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 it's safe to return to the office, but it may also see businesses experience an increase in productivity as a result.
Initial’s holistic approach to hygiene solutions ensures businesses are covered in all key risk areas.