Over the last number of months, Covid-19 has forced businesses to make vast changes to the work environment. Many employees have been working from home under the guidelines from the government. However, as restrictions begin to ease and we return to work, it will look vastly different to when we left in March. The Irish government just released a ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’ to ensure that we maintain the gains the country has made, and continue to suppress the spread of the virus. This involves providing induction training to employees but also for contractors and visitors to the workplace. It is expected that other governments around the world will implement similar guidelines as they begin to consider the opening of businesses. Ensuring everyone’s safety is the priority and this new work environment is now the new normal.
As mandated by the government, employers have to provide Covid-19 induction training for all workers. Each workplace will appoint at least one representative to ensure the effective implementation of changes to work activities and the implementation of infection prevention and control measures. This training and structured framework should be followed so that it is effective in preventing the virus, fundamentally helping to minimise the risk to workers. Training at a minimum should include the latest up to-date advice and guidance on public health: what a worker should do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19; details of how the workplace is organised to address the risk from COVID-19; an outline of the COVID-19 response plan; identification of points of contact from the employer and the workers; and any other sector specific advice that is relevant.
“The best way to prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19 is to use proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and practice physical distancing.”
– Irish Government
Hand hygiene in the workplace
Emphasis is also placed on delivering hand hygiene training in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the key preventative measures from Covid-19 is related to hygiene. They also released advice on getting your workplace ready which can be found here. The Irish government have stressed that employers must ensure that appropriate hygiene facilities are in place to accommodate workers adhering to hand hygiene measures. They also instruct that organisations must deliver advice and training on how to perform hand hygiene effectively. In addition to hand hygiene, good respiratory hygiene and etiquette is also necessary as well as the cleaning of work areas at regular intervals. The government states that while correctly using PPE can help prevent some exposures, it should not take the place of other preventative measures.
In the post Covid-19 world, hand hygiene is a key safety measure in the workplace. Although everyone is now aware of the importance of hand hygiene, they still may not be cleaning their hands correctly. If everyone knows how to wash their hands, why do nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals need to be trained to perform this skill? Fundamentally, to perform hand hygiene correctly and to ensure all surfaces are clean, we need to follow the WHO 6-step technique used in healthcare settings. This is proven to be the best method for washing our hands to ensure all surfaces are clean.
Six steps to clean hands
To help you remember the six-step technique, it must be completed in the same order every time. Therefore, it will become second nature each time you clean your hands. The following technique is suitable for using both soap and water and also hand sanitizer:
1. Rub hands palm to palm
2. Clean the back of each hand with the other hand
3. Rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced
4. Rub the back of fingers with opposite hands with fingers interlocked
5. Rub both thumbs thoroughly
6. Clean fingertips in the opposite palm with rotational rubbing
SureWash Hand Hygiene Training
A return to work plan will help ensure that businesses are not taking one step forward and two steps back. This will be key to businesses progressing and operating in the near future. SureWash can help businesses deliver hand hygiene induction training prior to employees even returning to the office. Through the SureWash Hand Hygiene APP, businesses can now engage in training that is delivered to healthcare professionals around the world. It teaches the WHO technique and make learning fun and engaging through gamification. As well as offering training, there is a lesson available on general hand hygiene. This helps to create awareness about the importance of hand hygiene, highlights when it should be performed and delivers information on coughing and sneezing etiquette. Get ahead and start your training now to ensure you are preparing a safe work environment for your workers.
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You can find the Irish government’s full document here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/22829a-return-to-work-safely-protocol/