Health benefit of hand sanitizer
Throughout any given workday, employees use their hands to write up a report, shake hands with a new client, open doors and much more. All of these activities expose hands to harmful germs and bacteria. Illness is linked to productivity loss, costing employers $225.8 billion annually in the U.S. Considering that 80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hands, it’s crucial to implement an effective hand hygiene program at work.
Americans spend more time Monday through Friday at the workplace than anywhere else, including their home. Additionally, 90 percent of office workers will come to work even when they are sick, in part due to an ever-growing workload. This makes the workplace a hotbed for germs and bacteria. Every year, the flu costs businesses $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults, according to the CDC. And this year’s flu season could be worse than normal as experts are warning that this year’s flu vaccine may only be 10 percent effective.
The good news? Proper hand hygiene compliance can reduce absenteeism and associated costs by 40 percent. While washing hands with soap and water is the best way to ensure hands are properly washed and rid of germs, it isn’t always a viable option. However, there is a simple solution: hand sanitizer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC, hand sanitizer is one of the best tools available to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. By placing hand sanitizer in strategic locations throughout the office, and other high traffic areas, you can encourage employees to improve their hand hygiene and make the office a healthier working environment.
Key Locations for Hand Sanitizer
Organizations that encourage regular use of hand sanitizer tend to have healthier workers. A study featured in BMC Infectious Diseases found that office workers who were encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at least five times each workday were about two-thirds less likely to get sick than those who continued to just wash their hands.
A 2015 survey found that while 92 percent of Americans believe it’s important to wash their hands after using a public restroom, only 66 percent of them follow through. Over a third of survey respondents admitted to skipping soap and rinsing with water. This makes it extra important to provide hand sanitizer in the restroom. If employees are in a rush and don’t think to stop and rinse with soap and water, providing a backup option near sinks and at the doors ensures germs don’t escape the restroom.
The best way to remind employees to use hand sanitizer is by making it easily accessible and always within sight. It’s important to place hand sanitizer near and around high-touch surfaces and communal areas, including:
Entrances and exits. A single doorknob could potentially be the cause of a widespread illness in the workplace. In fact, new research showed that a within two to four hours, a virus placed on a doorknob was picked up by 40 to 60 percent of workers and visitors within the facility. In addition to frequently disinfecting doorknobs, light switches and other high-touch surfaces within the workplace, make sure to also provide a hand sanitizing station nearby to limit the spread of infection.
Cafeterias, food courts and break rooms, and if food is consumed with germ-ridden hands, it’s easy to digest the germs and become infected with several diseases. One of the germiest hotspots in an office is the breakroom and kitchen, according to an NSF International study. Although hand sanitizer is not a replacement for anyone who prepares food, it can help eliminate certain germs.
Meeting rooms. Meeting rooms are often packed with employees, clients and other visitors who exchange handshakes, thus swapping germs. By providing guests and employees with an easy-to-access hand sanitizing station, either near the door or at the table, allows them to safeguard their hands against germs before and after the meeting takes place.
Employee desks. Desks, phones, computer keyboards and computer mice are key germ transfer points because people touch them so often. Considering that employees spend the majority of their day at their desks where they also eat, drink and even cough and sneeze, desks become “a minefield of viruses” which can live on a surface for up to three days. Placing individual hand sanitizers at desks keeps hand hygiene within reach.
High traffic areas. Providing hand sanitizer outside of the office is also important. High-traffic areas like airport terminals, mall hallways and recreational centers should offer hand hygiene stations to ensure visitors stay as healthy as possible. Not only does this keep high-traffic areas clean, it helps improve the image of the airport, mall or rec center.