The Importance of Hand Hygiene in the Workplace
Hand hygiene is important at all times. We’ve all listened to the news, watched the COVID briefings, read the posters. A good hand-washing technique is vital. Singing ‘happy birthday’ was trending to help ensure you were washing for long enough! And while we encourage good hand hygiene at all times, from a Health & Safety point of view, we focus on the workplace.
Hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of viruses. It’s in-built in us from early childhood. As an employer, it’s important to keep the same routine of reminding and encouraging your team to regularly wash their hands. At busy times, it can be something that slips from anyone’s routine. Ensure you have adequate signage to remind your team – around the office, in the canteen, staff room and bathrooms.
Decreasing the risk of spreading viruses will help decrease employee sick days and keep your team and their wider communities less at risk of infection. Combine with encouraging good respitory etiquette, social distancing and use of PPE where required.
Encourage the following in your workplace:
- Wash hands regularly, especially before and after going to the bathroom, eating, smoking
- Wash hands on arrival and before departure
- Ensure any cuts or grazes are covered with a plaster/bandage or use gloves
- Avoid touching surfaces where possible
- Avoid hand / mouth / eye contact
Using hand sanitizer reduces microbial counts and kills most harmful germs that could infect your workforce with COVID-19, the flu and other viruses. It is vital to instil good handwashing techniques in your employees, as well as continued use of hand sanitizer. As the employer, you must take responsibility for the health of your employees. It is critical to provide the necessary tools to do so.
The HSA website states:
“Regular and thorough handwashing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses and bacteria. It should be carried out in line with public health advice. Hand sanitisers with an alcohol content of 60% or above can also be used if your hands have no visible dirt on them.”
One thing we recommend, is a hand sanitiser refill audit:
- A great way to make sure that good hand hygiene habits are being maintained by all members of your team
- If you have visitors or deliveries, it’s vital to ensure the safety of your team
- Keeps you on top of monitoring how often the dispensers need refilling
- If you notice a drop in sanitiser usage or refill requirements, it’s probably time to remind staff and customers to up their use of sanitiser
- Take action and remind everyone about the importance of using sanitiser regularly
- Rotate the responsibility of the refill audit to keep sanitizer use fresh in everyone’s minds
Hand sanitizer placement in the office environment
- Entrances and exits: Door handles play a major part in the spread of viruses. Ensure there is sanitizer available anywhere there is an entrance or exit. Extra vigilance is needed in cleaning these areas too
- Employee workstations and desks: The coronavirus alone can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Desks, phones, computers and mice are prime spots for viruses to hang around! Staff should be cleaning their full work station at the beginning and end of the day. Also during, particularly if visited by a team member. Each employee should have their own hand sanitizer at their desk
- Staff rooms & canteens: These can be a breeding ground for all sorts of germs if not kept on top of! Place hand sanitizer near the entrance/exit, on any communal counter tops and also on each separate dining table/ area
- Conference rooms: Place hand sanitizer near the door as people enter or have it on the conference room table. These rooms (can) see a lot of traffic or visitors, it’s essential they are cleaned frequently. A hand sanitizer dispenser should be available on one or more points of a boardroom table
At Salutem Advisory & Training, we can assist you with any queries you may have on workplace safety. Contact us to discuss your queries if you are re-opening a business in the coming weeks or even if you have been open throughout the latest restrictions. We’re here to help – whether it’s a listening ear or a small piece of advice, or you need a COVID Business Response Plan – we’ve got you covered.