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It's in your hands

05 November 2014

We’ve entered that time of year when businesses, educational establishments and health organisations are gearing up for the cold and flu season.

The UN’s Global Handwashing Day, which took place on 15th October, provided a timely reminder that a little extra care in hand hygiene can go a long way to preventing ill health and controlling the spread of infections.

It takes 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap to effectively kill germs – yet this practice is far from commonplace, as some stomach-turning statistics illustrate. For example, one study found that faecal matter is present on 26% of hands in the UK (Queen Mary, University of London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) and in another, one in four office workers admitted they don’t wash their hands after using the washroom (Initial Washroom Hygiene). 

Even more shocking, an infographic provided by Chemex on page 48 of our October/November magazine issue explains that, if everyone washed their hands properly, there would be a 50% reduction in deaths from diarrhoea disease, a 20% reduction in days lost to sickness, and a 16% reduction in respiratory infections.

While most people need to catch a cold or require a horrific epidemic like Ebola to remind them to wash their hands properly, those working in the cleaning industry are aware of the importance of carrying out proper cleaning and hygiene practices in all seasons.

With this in mind, Keith Baker, ISSA’s director of EMEA Services, believes it should be the responsibility of the cleaning industry to promote better infection control procedures and support businesses in implementing them.

In the October/November issue he writes: "For a contractor or end customer to view a distributor as a valued partner, they need to be more than a mere ‘box shifter’.” This, he says, requires the organisation to advise customers on when and how to clean, inform them of the latest industry innovations, and "anticipate and offer the best solutions to any issues that may arise, such as an increased risk of infection.”

With winter no doubt bringing extra enquiries for infection prevention methods and products, cleaning companies can use this as an opportunity to offer advice and solutions for implementing good cleaning and hygiene practices all year round.