Developing strong hygiene habits has been drilled into many of us, often as early as childhood, but as adults, sometimes we fail to observe routines as strongly as we would like.
A stark reminder of the importance of practising good hygiene habits has been during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the risk of infection and spread of viruses seemed an ever-present danger. Government guidelines stressed the importance of coughing into elbows, social distancing and other forms of hygiene etiquette that would soon become the new normal. Chief among these was a practice that in previous years has often been overlooked, however, its role in protecting health is no less important than the others mentioned. That being proper hand washing and drying.
Germs – A Hidden Danger
Protecting your health and that of your employees is an important consideration for all employers. Reducing the risk of infection spreading can be mitigated by taking appropriate steps.
For example, it has been estimated that approximately ¼ of British and Irish citizens do not wash their hands directly after using the toilet.
Why Hand Hygiene Matters
There are many reasons to take hand hygiene seriously. Did you know:
- Nearly 80% of illness-causing germs are spread by your hands
- There are more germs on a mobile phone, keyboard or cutting board than on a toilet seat
- The act of flushing a toilet can spray germs up to six feet away.
Effective hand washing and drying can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhoea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections such as cold or flu (source).
Raising Your Hand Hygiene Standards
The simplest way to promote good hygiene is learning how to effectively wash and dry properly. The application of soap and water is critical to killing germs. It has been estimated that only 30% of those who wash their hands use soap.
If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitiser will also work.
Washrooms should be fitted with the appropriate equipment to cater for all customer needs, using dispensers that are well stocked and maintained. This could include the use of heavy-duty hand wash, sanitising gels as well as hand drying options, such as paper or cotton roller towels.
Adopting the Right Mindset
Ensuring all staff are in agreement with the importance of high standards of cleanliness – especially within washrooms – is integral to the success and adoption of improved etiquette.
Employees are more likely to be invested in improving conditions if the equipment is maintained, fully stocked and cleaned daily.
A team who views their workplace bathroom as their own is one where higher standards are likely to be maintained. This, in effect, will help improve the general cleanliness of the facilities, reduce the risk of infection and ultimately help lower absenteeism and create a more harmonious and pleasant work environment.