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London's first pop-up swabbing station promotes hand hygiene

24 July 2014

Hygiene expert, Initial Washroom Hygiene, is today highlighting the importance of effective hand washing at London’s first pop-up swabbing station.

A team of experts, led by Dr Peter Barratt, will swab people’s hands and personal items to reveal the levels of bacteria present and provide advice on effective hand washing. The public will also have the opportunity to set a new World Record, with Initial Washroom Hygiene experts attempting to swab the most numbers of hands and personal items during the course of an hour (1pm-2pm).

The pop-up event at One New Change, near St. Paul’s, will also see the London Youth Gospel Choir perform for the first time as ‘Hygiene Angels’, singing 30 second sections from a range of popular songs to highlight the recommended time for proper hand washing.

Research of 2,000 UK adults, carried out by Initial Washroom Hygiene, reveals that 30% believe they only need to wash their hands for 15 seconds or less. Almost a quarter, (24%), of the people surveyed admitted they either rarely or never wash their hands after blowing their nose and 27% don’t after travelling on public transport.

Previous research undertaken by Initial Washroom Hygiene with CEBR shows this is a consistent trend, with over a quarter (27%) of UK employees admitting to not washing their hands every time they visit the washroom.

It is estimated that drug-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA are responsible for 5,000 deaths a year in the UK and 25,000 deaths a year in Europe. The main weapon against MRSA is improved hygiene, which cuts the opportunity for infection to spread. More common illnesses such as the Norovirus, which has affected staff at this year’s Commonwealth Games, can be reduced through frequent and proper hand washing with soap and water.

Dr Peter Barratt from Initial Washroom Hygiene said: "The Government and health organisations around the world have highlighted the risk of antibiotic resistant infections steadily increasing over the years. Our research shows a significant number of people do not wash their hands very often or properly, despite it being the simplest and cheapest way to reduce the spread of infection. Personal items, such as phones, handbags and computers come into regular contact with our hands, creating a high risk of cross-contamination and spreading germs from one surface to another.

We all need to take more responsibility to improve our hand hygiene. Employers need to ensure the right facilities are available as well as providing plenty of soap, sanitising gels and hand drying equipment.”

The UN says washing hands is the most cost-effective intervention for the worldwide control of disease. It estimates hand washing could save more than one million lives a year from diarrhoeal diseases and prevent respiratory infections, one of the biggest causes of child mortality in developing countries.

Experts from Initial Washroom Hygiene will be available during the event, to answer any questions around hygiene in the workplace and discuss the implications of not washing hands properly. They will offer quick, easy tips that everyone can follow to ensure they stay as hygienic as possible.