Hand washing is considered to be the most important single measure in preventing the spread of disease. This guide explains how to wash and sanitise your hands in a way that protects you from disease and viruses. It also covers why hand hygiene is so important and how to encourage better hand hygiene practices in your workplace.
1. Hand hygiene saves lives.
We all know that frequent hand washing is a vital step in keeping ourselves and our belongings germ-free and healthy, but hand hygiene goes beyond just the basics of personal grooming; it can and does, save lives.
We know that…
• bugs and germs are on our hands right now
• bugs and germs can be washed off easily
• hand washing reduces illness and saves lives
The problem is…
most of us don’t wash or sanitise our hands often enough.
Hand washing is most effective at washing away germs, not necessarily killing them, even when anti-bacterial properties are incorporated into the formula. Remember that regular hand washing is the best way to minimise your risk of catching and spreading illnesses.
Each day, as many as 500,000 patients at hospital facilities around the world acquire nosocomial infections - also known as hospital-acquired infections (HAI) - resulting in a startling 20,000 to 50,000 deaths. That's more deaths than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
The most common of these infections are urinary tract infections, respiratory pneumonia, surgical site wound infections, and bacteremia, gastrointestinal and bloodstream skin infections. Because antibiotics are used frequently within hospital settings, these types of bacteria often develop a different resistance to antibiotics than they would outside of a hospital, making them especially difficult to treat. In the USA alone, approximately 99,000 people per year die as a result of infections acquired within hospitals, leading to an estimated $20 billion in healthcare costs.
It was found that the use of alcohol-based solutions in hospitals reduces the number of nosocomial infections and deaths by 50%, and “hand washing with soap can reduce death rates from pneumonia and diarrhoea by up to 65%” in children under 5 years old.
On a more personal, everyday level, increased hand hygiene in your home often leads to less sick days and time taken off of work for a preventable illness. If you and your family are often sick, consider instituting new hand washing practices for everyone, which could make a real difference in your overall health.
2. Why don’t people wash their hands?
• Not enough time (too busy).
• Other tasks take priority.
• Hand washing facilities are not close enough or inconveniently located.
• Poor standard of washroom cleanliness means people are reluctant to touch taps or fittings.
• People prefer ‘touch free’ hand washing facilities.
• Some hand soaps cause skin irritation and dryness.
• Hands don’t appear dirty (Bugs can’t be there if can’t see them right?)
• Just a bad habit.
Are there any other reasons people don’t wash their hands?
3. What are the benefits of good hand hygiene?
There’s lots of good reasons to wash your hands. Here’s some of them.
• Better health (less illness, colds and flu).
• Reduced absenteeism (less sick days).
• Better productivity.
• Safer work environment.
• Saves money and reduces costs because of the above points.
• Saves lives (hand hygiene is especially critical in the healthcare industry for the reduction of hospital and healthcare acquired infections).
4. How to encourage better hand washing practices?
What ways can you encourage better hand washing practices and habits in your facility?
Here’s some ideas...
• Make hand washing and hand sanitising fast and easy.
• Give users a ‘Touch Free’ hand hygiene experience.
• Ensure easy access to hand hygiene.
• Provide hand hygiene in all areas that it’s practical to do so.
• Ensure all hand soap dispensers are full, in working order and checked regularly.
• Ensure all hand hygiene stocks are counted, re-ordered regularly and within used by dates.
• Encourage the use of hand sanitiser as it reduces the frequency of hand washing required.
• Promote good hand hygiene practices within your organisation on a regular basis.
5. How to wash your hands.
a. Wet your hands with warm running water
b. Apply the hand soap to the palm of one of your hands.
c. Rub hands together vigorously for 45-60 seconds.
d. Make sure you wash your palms, back of hands, wrists, fingers and under fingernails.
e. Rinse your hands well with warm running water.
f. Dry hands completely with a clean, fresh paper towel. Wet hands are more likely to carry germs than dirty hands so dry them well.
g. Use the paper towel to turn off the tap. This prevents re-infection of your hands.
• Bulk fill liquid hand soap dispensers should be cleaned and disinfected regularly with warm to hot water. Bulk fill dispensers are not recommended if hygiene is a priority.
• Ensure the dispenser instructions are followed when re-filling a dispenser.
• Cold water is better than nothing but most liquid hand soaps lather up and performs better with warm water. The active ingredients in most soap formulations are released more easily, making the soap even more effective for cleaning your hands of dirt, grease, oils and germs without stripping away the natural oils in your skin.
6. Why are touch free soap dispensing systems better for everyone?
Touch free hand soap dispensers drastically reduces the chance of contamination.
Get the right amount every time.
Automatic touch free soap dispensers give you the right amount every time. More is not always better and over usage is costly for the facility.
Touch free hand soap dispensers are quick and easy to use for visitors.
Save water and product. The best automatic touch free liquid soap dispensers control usage so wastage is eliminated. XO2's touch free hand soap dispenser also has a reserve tank so you never waste a drop or run out of hand soap.
Very little cleaning of the washroom is required after use.
Brilliant user experience encourages usage.
Touch free hand soap dispensers encourage people to wash their hands and shows that a facility cares about hygiene and their washroom experience.
Are you washing your hands when you should be?
7. When should you wash and sanitise your hands?
Getting into a habit of regular hand washing through your day improves hygiene and health.
Here’s some of those times that hand washing is especially important.
• When your hands are dirty.
• Before and after eating.
• Before preparing food.
• Before and after attending to patients.
• After handling animals.
• Before and after using gloves.
• After handling rubbish.
• After smoking.
• After going to the toilet.
• After working in the garden.
• After handling chemicals.
• After changing nappies.
• After playing outside.
• After cleaning a toilet or urinal.
• After attending to sick children or adults.
• After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing.
• Before you attend to any cuts, wounds or rashes.
• Between handling raw and cooked (already prepared) foods.
Washing and sanitising your hands is required regardless of whether you are using gloves. Gloves should always be disposed of after use and never washed or reused.
Is hand sanitising something you should do regularly during your work day?
8. Why is the regular use of a hand sanitiser important?
Hand sanitising is a quick and easy way to keep your hands clean and hygienic. It’s convenience makes it a popular hand hygiene solution in busy areas where hygiene is important like hospitals, schools, office, supermarkets, hotels, commercial kitchens and cruise ships.
Here’s some of the benefits of regularly using a hand sanitiser.
• Reduces the bacteria count on hands.
• Helps protect you and others from bacteria and viruses.
• Makes regular hand washing more effective.
• Reduces the need for hand washing when hands are visibly clean.
• Quick and easy to use.
• No water is required.
• Less irritating than a full hand wash.
• Can be portable and more convenient for regular hand hygiene efforts.
It was recently reported that only 1 in 20 people wash their hands properly after going to the toilet. The introduction of proper hand washing education within communities can lead to a reduction of the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 31%, and respiratory illnesses such as colds by 16-21%.
Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to handrails, tables, toys, office supplies, money, and food and drinks, among other things, and is frequently transferred to individuals when they touch their eyes, nose and mouth. This can be avoided by washing your hands with antibacterial soap for 45 to 60 seconds or hand sanitising for 30 to 45 seconds after using the toilet, before and after eating, after handling animals, after handling rubbish, after smoking, and after attending to sick children or adults.
The XO2's hand soap and dispenser range is an excellent choice for your hand hygiene program - and combined with our touch free paper hand towel dispenser, they make for a great start to top-notch hand hygiene in your business.
For more information about hand hygiene and the proper products to reduce your risk of the spread of germs, please contact us on 1300 123 499 to learn how we can help.