Hand Hygiene: Why It’s the Best Protection From the Flu



Women washing hands in white sink good suds

Flu season is here, and it’s not the best time of the year for your workplace.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself and your staff in advance.

Did you know that observing excellent hand hygiene is the best prevention mechanism against the flu?

That’s right! There’s no need to look further than soap and water to prevent your employees from getting sick. How can this be true? Viruses spread in two main ways, when:

  • You touch an infected surface
  • A sick person coughs or sneezes near you

When you touch these germs and then your face, they enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth and make you sick. To make matters worse, the flu virus lives on surfaces for up to 2 days. This means you’re at risk of catching the flu from anywhere.

You need to promote hand hygiene to protect your employees from flu-causing germs.

Most people overlook hand hygiene, but that must change if you want to prevent illness in your workplace. These four scientifically-proven reasons why hand hygiene is important will help you create a safer workspace.

1. We Use Our Hands to Touch Everything

Good hygiene can help protect Shropshire residents from flu
Source: shropshireccg.nhs.uk

Scientific experts estimate that around 1,500 bacteria live on our hands. Since we use them to touch everything, we need to maintain cleanliness.  It’s for this reason that most office environments promote hand hygiene practices. You can start your journey today!

Begin by installing top-quality automatic soap dispensers. These focus on eliminating the use of touch and reducing bacteria transmission. Without the touch of a button, the soap is dispensed onto your palms for use without the possibility for cross-contamination.  It can’t get any better than that!

As you may know, office washrooms are high-traffic areas. Without the best hygiene supplies, you may encourage the spread of illnesses. Thus, high-grade hand care products decrease the number of pathogens that cause flu.

On the plus side, automatic soap dispensers work in a matter of seconds. All you need to do is place your palms underneath the nozzle, and it releases the required amount of soap for use, preventing wastage.

‘’Many studies link the use of automatic hand wash dispensers to reducing infections.’’

-National Purity

With that, remember that water is an essential element in hand washing. Without it, it’s impossible to lather and rinse our hands. Together, soap and water work to break down germ-carrying oils and wash them away. This is why medical experts discourage the use of water alone to wash our hands.

Above all, you must guarantee that your workers know how to wash their hands the right way. Most of the time, we rush through the hand washing process and forget the correct way to do it:

  • Wet hands with water
  • Lather with soap for 20 seconds
  • Rinse hands under running water
  • Close the water faucet with your elbow
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or an air dryer

‘’Studies show that a five-second wash doesn’t kill bacteria.’’

-National Purity

Consider showing your employees this video on the best handwashing technique. It makes the process easy to remember for everyone.

2. Hand Hygiene Reduces the Spread of Viral and Bacterial Infections

It’s good manners to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. But, did you know this helps to prevent the spread of the flu? Yet, the big question remains, what to do after a big sneeze or cough? The best answer is: wash your hands.

Scientists prove that handwashing reduces respiratory illnesses by 16-20%. Imagine the positive effects this could have at your workplace? One result is a major reduction in employee absenteeism. When your employees are healthy, they show up to work and are more productive and happier.

Yet, during work hours it can be inconvenient to visit the washroom each time you need to clean your hands. Sometimes, your employees need a quick solution to save time.

This is why hand sanitiser is the best go-to hygiene product for workspaces. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser contains powerful germ-eliminating ingredients that kill microbes within seconds. It cleanses the hands of bacteria that gather on the fingertips and palms throughout the day.

Increase product availability by installing sanitiser dispensers in open areas. This includes the lunchroom and nearby main office entry points. These are areas where your employees are at a high risk of coming into contact with flu-virus germs.

Before installation, ask yourself, how much do you know about hand sanitiser? Have a look at these tips for effective use. Use hand sanitiser:

  • Before visiting a family member or friend in the hospital
  • After using cell phones and touching money
  • After touching elevator buttons and door handles

Providing sanitiser also reduces the contraction of eye infections and stomach illnesses, keeping your staff healthy.

The presence of hand sanitiser compels your employees to practise better hygiene. To reap these benefits, it’s vital to let your employees know how to sanitise their hands:

  • Apply a pea-size amount of sanitiser on the palm of your hand.
  • Rub hands together for about 20 seconds until they feel dry.

Scientists have proven that work desks house over 10 million germs. This is why other hand hygiene options, like anti-bacterial wipes, are important too. They are a great substitute for sanitiser and cut bacterial presence in workspaces. Provide a pack at every workers’ desk to use when necessary. This helps them kill microbes found within the keyboards, computer crevices and office phones.

3. Hand Hygiene Lowers the Chances of Contracting Respiratory Illnesses

‘’Washing your hands with soap and water reduces incidences of pneumonia by half.’’

-Lancet

The flu manifests itself in the following symptoms:

  • Mild headaches
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pains
  • Blocked nose
free influenza immunisation poster
Source: influenza.org.nz

Any employee with these symptoms may unknowingly spread the flu. Surface sanitation is the most powerful method of combating flu germs. The bacteria rests on surfaces before our hands touch them, leading to infection.

Wipe common touchpoints using an anti-bacterial cleaner to end bacterial presence. Spray some of the cleaning liquid on a cloth and wipe target areas, such as door handles. There’s no need to rinse it off. This helps the product can work its magic and battle any bacteria that are present.

So, if you notice any employee suffering from flu symptoms, it’s prudent to give them a day off to rest. Coming down the flu has an unstoppable domino effect on company employees. One person falls sick and later infects the others.

In this respect, it’s wise to think two steps ahead. One innovative way to stay ahead of flu virus is to provide on-site vaccination clinics. When it’s flu season, you can’t help but feel vulnerable because everyone around you is sick. Instead, give your employees a sense of safety and protection. Through vaccination, their immune systems remain healthy until flu season ends.

4. Improve the Immune System With Hand Hygiene

Constant attacks on the immune systems make you vulnerable to other illnesses. At the end of the day, one thing is for sure: prevention is better than the cure.

Did you know that excellent hand hygiene practices make the body self-sufficient? Washing your hands makes your immune system stronger. You reduce the need for antibiotics and your body stays alert instead of focusing all its energy on fighting a disease.

Remember, don’t overwash your hands. It’s more suitable to wash your hands at the appropriate times, which are:

  • Before and after eating or handling food
  • After visiting the washroom
  • After touching animals and pets
  • Before and after caring for a sick person

Bonus Flu Prevention Tips

In summation, you need to get your employees’ attention if you want them to remember these hand hygiene practices.

Consider conducting training sessions with hygiene experts to give practical experience. Couple this up with subtle hand hygiene reminders in the washrooms and workspaces. As a result, all your employees will make great hand hygiene a daily habit.

‘’Washing your hands with soap and water is critical in the fight against Coronavirus.’’

-United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

immune system during cold flu season infographic
Source: floridacitrus

During flu season, remember to eat healthy food and to stay away from cold drinks. Above all, hand hygiene is the key to protecting yourself and others from viruses.

Observing a high-standard of hygiene goes a long way in creating a happy society. It’s the first step in reducing global virus infections. Incorporate these hygiene practices into your workplace culture today to protect your community.

Contact Alsco NZ and make your workplace safer for everyone.

Photo: Arlington County



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.