Employees of any organization or workplace are using their hands for various reasons throughout the day. It could be shaking hands with a new client, feeding data into the system, opening and closing doors, touching several objects, writing a report, etc.; your hands are thus exposed to dust and bacteria. This makes the employee susceptible to falling sick. Illness of an employee means loss of productivity for the organization. Hands transmit 80% of the infections, and thus you must follow a hand hygiene program at your workplace to ensure safety and good health.
We spend a significant time in the workplace. Most office workers report to work even when they are ill, considering the ever-increasing workload. This makes the workplace a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Every year, employees who catch the flu are hospitalized or at home, which means a massive loss.
However, the good news is that proper hand hygiene can protect one’s health at the workplace and reduce absenteeism. Washing hands with soap and water are the easiest solution to get rid of germs and dirt. However, not at all times can you get access to soap and water. So we have another simple solution, and that is a hand sanitizer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hand sanitizer is one of the best tools to prevent from falling sick spreading germs. Keeping hand sanitizer in easily accessible places throughout the office and other high traffic areas will encourage employees to follow hand hygiene and a healthy office environment.
Prime Locations for Hand Sanitizer
Organizations that encourage their employees to use hand sanitizers regularly have healthier workers. A study found that office employees who were encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at least five times in their working day were less likely to fall sick by a considerable measure than those who continued to wash their hands with soap and water.
A survey found that while a significant part of the population believes it is essential to wash their hands after using a public washroom, very few followed. Many employees rinse their hands with water instead of using soap as well. This makes it even more essential to equip a restroom with hand sanitizer. If employees are in a hurry and mind to stop and rinse with soap and water, providing a backup of hand sanitizer near sinks and at the doors prevents germs from escaping the restroom.
The easiest way to remind employees to use hand sanitizer is by placing it in places that are easily accessible and always within sight. It is pivotal to keep hand sanitizer near and around surfaces and areas that are prone to maximum contact or touch, including:
Entry and exit. One little doorknob could potentially be the reason for a widespread sickness in the workplace. Recent find outs showed that a virus resting on a doorknob was picked up by 40 to 60 percent of employees and visitors within the workplace within two to four hours. You must regularly disinfect doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch surfaces within the work area. Also, make sure to have a hand sanitizing station close to restrict the spread of infection.
Cafeterias, food joints, and break rooms- When food is eaten with germ-ridden hands, you are at a high risk of catching an infection. The breakroom and kitchen in the office is a hotspot for catching germs. Although hand sanitizer is not a replacement for the cook, it can surely help get rid of certain germs.
Meeting rooms: Meeting rooms are where employees, clients, and other visitors shake hands, thus swapping germs. You must provide visitors and employees with an easily accessible hand sanitizing station near the entrance or table. This protects their hands against germs before and after the meeting.
Employee desks: Desks, telephones, computer keyboards, and mice are high germ transfer places because people touch them often. Employees spend most of their day at their desks, dining and wine, cough, and sneeze. Therefore, this place becomes a high zone of viruses, thriving on a surface for up to three days. There must be one hand sanitizer at every desk to ensure the hand hygiene of each employee.
In high traffic, areas-It is also essential to have hand sanitizers outside the office.
High-footfall places like airport terminals, malls, and recreational centres should have hand hygiene stations to ensure visitors stay safe and healthy. This offers two benefits. Firstly, it keeps high-traffic areas clean, and secondly, it helps enhance the airport, mall, etc.
Transaction counters- a study revealed that banks and ATMs pose a significant risk of germ transmission. Microorganisms thrive on paper notes and bills. All of these could lead to severe illnesses. It is essential to clean your hands after cash handling, especially if you have to eat soon. Keeping hand sanitizers in banks and ATM counters reminds people to follow hand hygiene.
Choosing the right-Hand Sanitizer: It is not just enough to provide a sanitizer at the workplace to ensure employee health, but it is also essential to provide the correct type of hand sanitizer. A good hand sanitizer must be alcohol-based, containing at least 70 percent alcohol. The higher the alcohol percentage, the more effective it will be.
You can also consider using foam hand sanitizers. As many as 84 percent of adults prefer using foam sanitizer over the sticky gel. It’s also good to use sanitizers that contain moisturizing agents to prevent skin dryness and are fragrance and dye-free to cause no allergic reactions and skin irritations.
Encouraging Hand Hygiene
Providing right-hand sanitizers at the workplace is very important to encourage hand hygiene. Wall-mounted hand sanitizing dispensers and bottles in the hotspot areas is essential to improve your workers’ health but only beneficial if workers frequently use them.
Put up posters and leaflets stating the importance of washing/sanitizing hands frequently at the workplace. Put up reminders and benefits of following hand hygiene. The newsletters and information materials must also include relevant details about using an immunity booster to hand sanitize and cover both hands adequately.
Moreover, employers should conduct educational seminars and meetings within the workspace to teach and remind employees of the importance of hand hygiene, its practices, and how it improves their health.
As an employer, it’s essential to bring about a change by leading from the front and being an example. Encourage workers to sanitize their hands often by doing it yourself. Don’t forget to keep a good stock of hand hygiene refills during the cold and flu season. Lastly, it’s important to let workers take sick days to keep germs away from the office and other healthy employees and visitors.
Thus, we see that using alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills many harmful germs that could make the workers sick. To keep the work environment healthy, employers must provide hand sanitizer to each employee.