Did you know that the simple act of handwashing can save hundreds of thousands of people from bad health or worse every year? A lack of handwashing facilities or awareness programmes puts individuals at risk of harmful diseases; but poor handwashing isn’t only a problem for developing countries.
Despite an increase in flexible working, the majority of people spend most of their time in the workplace. These large communal spaces are a potential hotbed of germs and illnesses. Our survey suggests that handwashing is rarely exercised as often as it should. Consider these three stats:
- 33% of respondents use a smartphone while in a washroom at work.
- 12% take food or drink into the washroom.
- 37% don’t wash their hands if they are in a rush.
Even though 84% of office workers claim to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom, another of our studies suggests it’s only actually half of that. Now take into account the 32% of people who sometimes or always hot-desk and those 49% who eat at their desks – the potential for germs to spread is high.
One of our survey’s respondents summed it up perfectly when she said: “The thing I hate most about office toilets is people who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. I have to try and get out without touching door handles. It defeats the point of me washing my own hands”. Her opinion is reciprocated across the survey. In fact, 42% of respondents avoid shaking hands with someone who’s just used the washroom.
Could employers do more for staff? With reasons for not washing hands ranging from a lack of provisions like soap or towels (20%) to avoiding queues for the sink or hand dryer (14%), being discouraged by a bad smell (16%) or an unclean handwashing area (15%), there’s clearly a strong case for action. 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
Germs like to get around, but there’s plenty businesses can do to prevent them from doing so.
- Encourage employees to practise good hand hygiene. Washing hands regularly and thoroughly helps to reduce and remove potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Simple initiatives like reminders near sinks and basins that encourage workers to wash, dry, and sanitise their hands, while discouraging the use of smartphones in the washroom, can make a difference. A smartphone taken into the washroom will invariably end up with germs and bacteria 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.
- In washrooms, investing in the correct air care solutions will help neutralise bad odours and intelligently fragrance the air throughout the washroom, while installing 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.
- 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.
- Hand sanitisers to combat spreading should also be available around the office. The most effective sanitisers are those that are not alcohol-based and form a gentle, long-lasting protective barrier around hands.
- Businesses should ensure regular, thorough cleaning takes place in communal office areas, such as the kitchen. Table tops and store shelves should be cleaned regularly using anti-bacterial surface wipes. It’s recommended that companies undertake a professional deep clean at least twice a year to prevent the build-up of hidden dirt.
Lastly, if an employee contracts a virus such as Norovirus – a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea – make sure they stay away from your premises for at least 48 hours after the symptoms have disappeared, to avoid wider contamination.
A clean commercial washroom equals clean hands for all
Our study showed that 61% of office workers want cleaner washroom facilities at their place of business. If cleaner, more hygienic facilities encourage better habits amongst staff, employers should think about investing in them, while staff should consider the impact good hand-hygiene can have on colleagues.
Not only is a lack of handwashing facilities or awareness programs putting individuals at risk of bad health around the world, but poor hand hygiene is also the biggest cause of office illness.
Proper investment in workplace hygiene facilities will not only benefit a business by introducing a healthier and happier working environment for staff, but it may also see businesses losing fewer days to sickness while experiencing an increase in productivity as a result.
For more information about the services and solutions we offered to improve hand hygiene practices, please feel free to contact us or call us on 0800 313 4972, and we will be more than happy to help.