Hand hygiene: The rules
07 March 2013
Maintaining hygiene standards is not just for the purpose of cleanliness, it could potentially save lives.Albany Hygiene Facilities reviews the main germs lurking in your washroom and explains how encouraging good hand hygiene can halt their spread
Swine flu dominated the headlines last year, in previous years we have had norovirus, E-coli, and MRSA, and now we have the potential risk of new 'superbug'NDM-1. In any environment where people are in close proximity to each other, such as offices and schools, they are often at risk of catching a bacterial infection or virus.
Healthy hygiene habits need to be carried out and encouraged.
Maintaining hygiene standards is not just for the purpose of cleanliness, it could potentially save lives.There is a real risk of cross infection within washrooms, therefore it is very important to make sure they are designed correctly and are also maintained regularly.
For example, the MRSA bacteria can be picked up on any surface that is infected.This is different to the influenza virus which is mainly spread by skin-to-skin interaction.According to the Office of National Statistics, between 2008 and 2009, deaths involving MRSA infection in England and Wales fell by 37% from 1,203 to 781.This shows that public hygiene awareness has improved but also highlights the importance of continuing to enforce high hygiene standards.
The norovirus spreads very rapidly through person to person transmission, or contaminated foods. Swine flu is also still a threat.
Every year we have a new strain of influenza coming along and people with lower immune systems are at risk. For example, annual statistics show 11.7 million school days were lost in the spring 2010 term alone due to child illness including flu, norovirus and E.coli.
The problem is that many people do not realise how easy it is to pick up germs. In fact by the time you have used all the necessary facilities within a washroom, the chances are you may have actually been exposed to a number of germs which will lead to your illness. It is important to clean your hands properly to reduce the spread of infection, but surprisingly many people actually get this simple strategy wrong.
"A lot of people think they are cleaning their hands properly when in fact they are just splashing their hands in water with little soap, little rubbing and limited drying," Dr Ron Cutler says."We carried out some research at Queen Mary,University of London, in partnership with Albany Hygiene Facilities, which identified that the longer you dried your hands, the fewer bacteria remained.
Getting hand washing right "The ultimate hand cleaning approach would be to wash hands in warm water, paying particular attention to finger tips and nails, followed by drying hands for 25 seconds." So how do you make sure your washroom has the right facilities to ensure a high level of hygiene standards? Washrooms should always be correctly equipped with anti-bacterial soaps and dispensers as well as an effective hand drying system.They need to be regularly cleaned by trained cleaning operatives and checked for contamination.
It is also beneficial to have hand sanitisers in your premises, especially in any kitchens, and by access doors, for people to use when they are entering and exiting the building.You need to educate people on the importance of maintaining healthy hand hygiene techniques and let them know that hand washing and drying is part of the company's policy in order to protect the safety of the people in the building.
You can arrange for a hygiene company to review your washroom.
Albany Hygiene Facilities offers a free hygiene audit for your washrooms and they will be able to give you best practice hygiene advice to suit your individual requirements.