World Hand Hygiene Day – which falls on May 5 – has extra significance this year, as the world grapples with the continuing impacts of a global pandemic. Though offices, schools and government facilities are largely sitting empty, there are some facilities still operating, where staff and visitors will need to prioritize hand hygiene as the outbreak continues.
Since four in five common infections are spread by hands, proper hand hygiene among facility occupants is clearly crucial to slowing the spread of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. And because unclean hands can also spread microbes to surfaces, thorough and regular cleaning goes hand-in-hand with practicing hand hygiene. Together, these two measures promote effective infection prevention.
Best Practices for Hand Hygiene
Facilities should encourage all occupants to wash and dry hands the right way – after all, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says frequent handwashing is one of the most effective ways to combat germs. By displaying signage, including how-to posters or song lyrics to sing so people wash their hands long enough, facilities can show that they take hand hygiene seriously.
To maximize hand hygiene, facility managers and business service contractors should train employees on proper handwashing, which requires at least 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and water, followed by thorough drying. For hand-drying, facilities should stock paper towels – the alternative, air dryers, may spread pathogens through the air. They should also consider installing touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers in high-traffic areas of the building.
Cleaner Hands, Cleaner Surfaces
Just as unclean hands can transfer germs to surfaces, unclean surfaces can transfer germs to hands. Dirty surfaces and hands are in an endless cycle of contaminating one another. Consider the following best practices for surface cleaning to create environments where clean hands are unlikely to get re-soiled.
- Two-Step Cleaning: Clean first, then disinfect. The two-step process has proven to be the most effective method of cleaning. Look for a cleaner that effectively removes surface soils from a variety of surfaces, from metal to fabric to wood and beyond. In addition, seek out a disinfectant that is gentle on eyes and skin but tough on pathogens and is effective against 99.999% of disease-causing organisms.
- On-Site Generation: Consider an on-site generation (OSG) system that produces cleaner and disinfectant on demand, allowing facilities to scale up the volume of product in order to clean more frequently. There are OSG systems that require only water, salt and electricity to produce cleaner/degreaser and sanitizer/disinfectant right inside the facility. These are especially helpful during a pandemic, when demand for cleaning is high and supply chains experience disruption. OSG enables facilities to mitigate supply chain issues by creating cleaning solutions on site, rather than sourcing them from outside suppliers.
Helping to Slow the Spread
It’s paramount for facilities to deliver a high level of cleanliness and support hand hygiene during a pandemic. Whether operating a retail business, a warehouse or a doctor’s office, hand hygiene and effective cleaning work together to help slow the spread of infectious pathogens like coronavirus. For added assurance, OSG systems that produce effective cleaner and disinfectant on site can help meet the need for increased cleaning during the pandemic.