Many viruses can survive on surfaces for several hours or even days; think about all of the surfaces your hands come into contact with throughout the day – unknowingly we could be transferring viruses to ourselves by touching our eyes, nose or mouth if good hand hygiene isn’t practised.

In 2015, a study was conducted on how often we touch our face. Students were filmed during a medical lecture and researchers counted the number of times the students touched their faces. On average the students touched their faces 23 times within one hour. Research suggests this could reach up to 2000 times every day. To practice good infection control we should avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth, especially with unwashed hands. According to the CDC, about 30% of diarrhoea-related sicknesses and 20% of respiratory infections (e.g. colds) could be prevented with good hand hygiene.

Clean hands are one of our best defences against sickness and infections. Ensuring your hand hygiene practices follow the latest professional advice is key to implementing a successful hand care programme in your facility. Regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water washes away viruses that may be on your hands. If you do not have access to soap and water then an alcohol-based hand rub should be used, this is intended to kill the virus.

You should wash your hands, for example; after using the toilet, before eating or handling food, after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, before and after treating a patient and after touching animals. Following recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) we should spend 20-30 seconds washing our hands if they are not visibly soiled or cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, if soap and water are not readily available, and 30-40 seconds if hands are visibly soiled.

How to wash your hands:

  • Wet hands and use enough soap to cover the whole surface of your hands, down to your wrists
  • Rub your hands together ensuring palms and backs of hands, fingers, fingertips and thumbs are all cleaned thoroughly
  • Dry with a single use, disposable towel

For full details, download our 12 step hand washing guide containing the latest advice from the WHO.

The majority of common infections are caused by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces, keeping surfaces clean will reduce the contamination you may then pick up on your hands. Regular cleaning and surface disinfection are crucial to ensure germs and bacteria are not spread, this is crucial for health care facilities and important to help stop the spread of infection in the workplace. Coming into contact with contaminated surfaces and not following good hand hygiene practices could lead to the spread of infection.

Within health care facilities, hands are the main cause of germ transmission and associated infections. The WHO’s ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ programme is a global campaign to improve hand hygiene within health care, with its core message centred on cleaning hands at the right time and in the right way. This message can clearly be seen within the “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” approach, which defines the key moments when health care workers should practice hand hygiene. For more information on the My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene campaign, click here

Hand hygiene within industry is not only important to stop the spread of infection but also to protect workers from common skin problems such as contact dermatitis, which can develop from being in frequent contact with solvents and cleaning agents. Contact dermatitis can cause skin to become inflamed (irritated), blistered, dry and cracked.

According to the WHO, skin irritation is a common barrier to good hand hygiene technique. Hand washing in industry is crucial to remove grease, dirt, grime and bacteria that build up on the skin. Given the nature of industrial tasks, frequent hand washing is necessary but can dry skin out. Preventing skin problems and implementing a hand care programme that focuses on not just the correct hand washing procedure but also protecting and moisturising the skin to repair and prevent damage is key when it comes to achieving successful hand hygiene.

Shielding and protecting hands in tough working environments can be achieved by ensuring your employees have access to a good hand care programme. By providing necessary hand wash and sanitizers to maintain good hand hygiene and skin barrier creams and moisturisers, your employees will be able to protect their hands from dryness and cracking whilst protecting against the spread of germs and bacteria.

In industries such as manufacturing, construction and engineering; it’s important to have a good hand care programme in place to ensure successful hand hygiene. Following professional advice, it is vital hands are not only cleaned thoroughly but also dried thoroughly. Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet or damp hands. It is recommended, where possible, that hands should be dried using a disposable towel before barrier creams and moisturisers are applied.

For more information on good hand hygiene download our 12 step hand washing guide containing the latest advice from the WHO.

If you would like more information on and help implementing a robust hand care programme in your facility, contact us today.