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Practical tips for staying safe at work

14 August 2020

As the lockdown eases and many businesses resume, Chris Wakefield, vice president, European marketing and product development, GOJO Industries-Europe, offers advice to stay safe once employees get back to work.

Lockdown may have been eased, but the pandemic is far from over. Businesses need to ensure that the highest standard of cleanliness is maintained as they re-open their doors to staff, visitors, and customers. 

Never before have so many understood that the simple act of washing and sanitising hands can break the chain of infection, and improve health outcomes. Responsible employers will already have installed hand hygiene systems, but to be effective, all staff must use them. Moreover, even  workers diligent about their hand hygiene may not realise how many common objects can harbour high levels of harmful microbes.  

Danger points
Communal kitchens, for example, are places where everyone should wash hands, because they are about to eat or drink. But did you know that you should wash hands immediately upon entering the kitchen – before you even flick the switch to boil the water for a cup of tea? Research has shown that kettles can harbour all sorts of harmful bacteria, transferred to them by unclean hands. One study even found faecal matter on the handle! 

Other examples of germ hot spots include door handles, entry keypads, and lift buttons. Also beware handrails, as more people eschew the confined space of elevators and opt to take the stairs instead.

Surface hygiene is also incredibly important to preventing the spread of germs through a building. In addition to the tasks performed by regular cleaning staff, all employees should be encouraged to wipe down any surfaces after they have used them, so that they are hygienically clean for the next person. 

Ensure that staff have easy access to sanitising sprays or wipes, and choose ones that are fast acting, bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal. Highly effective and quick to use, PURELL® sanitising sprays and wipes are suitable for a range of surfaces, and can be used with complete confidence.

Clean hands are healthy hands
Hands should be washed or sanitised upon entry and exit from buildings, after using the washroom facilities, and at the above-mentioned danger points. As important as when and where to wash hands, is how? It is incredible how many people do not wash their hands properly, or for long enough for it to be effective. 

Visual aids, such as posters and notices, can work well to not only demonstrate the best technique, but to also prompt hygienic behaviour. During the pandemic, we have seen a rise in people over-using soap or sanitiser, in the false belief that a double dose offers twice the protection. In fact, one single measure will suffice and result in an effective clean. Promoting this at hand washing and sanitising stations will not only reduce wastage, and protect skin health, but also save businesses money.

Finally, to encourage compliance, organisations should choose a formulation that is both effective, and kind to skin, and also consider supplying hand cream to use afterwards. This is especially important given the high percentage of people that report having sensitive skin. 

By helping staff recognise hidden germ spots and offering them the tools and products to practise effective hand and surface hygiene, businesses can help ensure their premises remain safe and healthy places to work.