The recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted what professionals in the infection prevention field have known for years – frequent and thorough hand washing can and does save lives. Now that everyone understands why practicing hand hygiene is a must, we’re here to talk about the “how”.
Routinely, a working adult comes into contact with several environments during the day, all of which hold a chance of contracting dangerous germs and viruses. These environments can be divided into three arenas: the public arena, which includes public transport, malls, grocery shops, restaurants, and so on, the private arena which includes the person’s home-life, and the professional arena, which includes the workplace.
Hand hygiene in public spaces
A lot can be said about infection prevention in public spaces. Holding a large concentration of people who touch shared surfaces, public spaces are one of the most dangerous among the three arenas. Potential carriers of diseases could infect surfaces that are commonly touched, spreading their diseases to other people. High touch surfaces in the public arena can be anything from escalator handrails, bus handles, public bathrooms, and more.
A solution that is becoming more and more common in the face of the hand hygiene problem, particularly in public spaces, is the use of hand sanitizer.
Hand washing versus hand sanitizer – which one is better?
First of all, it’s important to understand both methods can contribute to hand hygiene, which means either option is better than none. If you want the long answer, you can check it out here. The simplified answer is – hand washing is better than hand sanitizer because it can deal with a wider variety of germs and viruses.
However, in public settings such as bus stations and malls, using hand sanitizer might be more effective because more people will be inclined to use it. It’s fast, accessible, and doesn’t require too much from the user, which is why it could suit these busy settings perfectly.
What about food safety and hand hygiene?
Restaurants and food factories struggle to provide safe foods that are not contaminated by hand-borne pathogens. This isn’t the easiest task. In an interview we conducted with a quality assurance manager in the field, Seth, he told us food factories are attempting to limit human contact with the final products by employing advanced machinery, but that it’s not entirely possible. Restaurant kitchens are also known for cross-contamination when kitchen workers touch products containing certain bacteria and not washing their hands before handling different foods and tools around the kitchen.
The food industry and hand hygiene stations
It is imperative workers in the food industry maintain a high standard of hand hygiene. This can be achieved through the use of hand washing stations, such as Soapy’s CleanMachine. The unique hand hygiene station allows touch-free hand washing, dispensing the correct amount of soap and water needed for every wash cycle. The automatic hand washing station scans the hands while they are washed in order to determine whether the correct hand movements have been carried out, and provides immediate feedback to the washer. The personal hygiene station also has an employee ID identification feature, allowing managers access to individual hand hygiene data. This allows businesses to understand hand hygiene trends in their facilities, as well as having employees comply with hand hygiene regulations.
Hand hygiene in professional settings
There’s a thin line between “public spaces” and “professional spaces”. They have a lot in common – mainly the large number of strangers touching the same surfaces. The risk of infection at work isn’t as low as anyone would like it to be, and can have real financial consequences for many businesses. However, these two arenas – public and professional – have substantial differences.
One of the major differences is that employers can press hand hygiene protocols that employees have to follow. For example, some plants insist employees wash their hands before entering work facilities. However, if someone is ill they will continue on spreading germs throughout the workday, so washing only one time upon entry is not the perfect solution.
Employers can make use of the CleanMachine in a variety of settings inside their facilities, placing hand washing stations across sensitive areas in the workplace, such as meeting rooms, break rooms, and so on, in compatibility with their infection prevention program.
Hygiene at home
When you’re at home, you might be bringing in dangerous pathogens from the outside. Washing your hands and taking off your shoes upon entering the house can help diminish the number of unwanted germs entering alongside you.
Families tend to spread germs from one another in a variety of ways. On top of touching the same surfaces routinely, most families dry their hands using the same hand towel. That hand towel can contain many different bacteria that survived a hand wash that was not thorough enough, and can also grow mold if it stays damp for a long time. Disposable towels are a much more hygienic solution to drying hands at home (and everywhere else, for that matter). It’s important to educate yourself on the best hygienic practices at home. For example, is using bar soap hygienic? We discussed these issues in a previous article.
Hand washing safety – common questions and answers about hand washing to help you create a hand hygiene culture
Hand washing temp
The recommended temperature for washing hands is over 38 degrees Celsius. The warm, pleasant temperature encourages hand washing all year round, especially during the cold winter months when people tend to avoid washing their hands because it’s uncomfortable.
What reagents should you use to wash your hands?
It’s important to use reagents that are gentle enough on the skin to allow frequent hand washing. Harsh reagents which tend to be cheaper can damage the skin and create rash-like injuries when washing repeatedly.
When does hand washing turn to too much hand washing?
There is a common misconception that claims too much hand washing can create OCD – that isn’t true. One of the more commonly known symptoms of OCD is excessive hand washing, however, it is a compulsion that stems from the obsessive thoughts about germs, and not the other way around.
There is a point when too much hand washing can become damaging to the skin, and that is where the line between “normal hand washing” and “excessive hand washing” is crossed. Hand washing should not hurt you.
What are automatic hand hygiene stations?
Hand washing stations, such as the CleanMachine, are a new technological advancement in the hand hygiene field. These touch-free hand washing machines allow people to wash their hands thoroughly and quickly. The CleanMachine is versatile, and can be equipped with sanitizer instead of soap and water, depending on your needs. Through technology, hand hygiene stations take the guesswork out of hand washing, ensuring a comprehensive wash cycle every time. If you want to learn more about the CleanMachine, you can contact us here.