Life in the 21st Century
Promoting hygiene in the workplace has never been so important. Did you know that 80% of common infections are spread by our hands? According to research, the average human touches their face around 23 times per hour. When we touch our faces (particularly our noses and mouths) with unwashed hands, it can lead to an infection. (1) In consideration of the number of germ-laden surfaces (fomites) that we touch on a daily basis, germs can spread easily. We now have multiple electronic devices, we travel a lot more for work and share common surfaces more than ever before. These objects or materials that we share are classified as ‘fomites’ and can spread infections and diseases within an office environment.
How do Infections Spread through Fomites?
The process is simple yet scary. A pathogen is picked up through a contaminated surface. We then touch our faces throughout the day without even realising it. At some point we may cough or sneeze and the pathogen can fall onto a surface e.g. phone or computer. This process keeps continuing in a loop and we generally go about or daily lives without even thinking about it.
The Dreaded Truth
Generating awareness and promoting best practice about the importance of hygiene in the workplace is essential to help prevent the spread of infections. As identified in a study by microbiologist Charles Gerba, office telephones have more than 25,000 germs per square inch and the average desk harbours about 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Keyboards and computer-mice are also two of the most germ-laden surfaces in the office. Despite these horrifying figures, only 64% of us clean our desktops once a month or less according to Gerba. Poor hygiene in the workplace is dangerous and not only spreads in the work environment, but also to the home. We commonly share the same surfaces in the office meaning we are also spreading germs from person to person.
The Most Dangerous Person is the one who thinks their Hands are Clean
Hand Hygiene is one of the most important practices to help prevent the spread of illnesses. However, despite its importance, many of us tend to do a quick splash and dash when washing our hands. In light of the importance of hand hygiene during the COVID-19 outbreak, we need to make a more conscious effort when cleaning our hands throughout the day. The WHO guidelines follow a 6-step technique that ensures all surfaces of our hands are clean. Primarily used in healthcare, this is one of the best defences against respiratory illnesses.
Fail to Prepare and Prepare to Fail
Prevention is key, so being prepared for an outbreak situation or for cold and flu season is imperative within your organisation to prevent the spread of infections. Promoting good hygiene within the workplace is a fundamental action any organisation can take. Ensuring the surfaces (fomites) in the office are cleaned thoroughly and regularly is a good first step. Providing hand hygiene training is also effective. If all staff know the correct way to wash their hands and the impact it can have, they will be more conscious to practice proper hand hygiene at key moments. Educating on respiratory hygiene in terms of coughing and sneezing etiquette should also be implemented.
SureWash Hand Hygiene App
To promote hand hygiene and to teach the WHO technique, corporations can distribute the SureWash Hand Hygiene App to employees. Included is a lesson on hand hygiene and 5 levels to test user’s technique and build muscle memory. When an individual cleans their hands following the WHO technique, they ensure all surfaces of their hands are clean. Therefore, the risk of getting infected and becoming sick is reduced significantly.
If you are an organisation looking to implement hand hygiene training, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01 677 8894.
Try out the SureWash Hand Hygiene App below:
- APIC. Available at: https://apic.org/monthly_alerts/dont-touch-your-face/