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    by Vickie Holland | Dec 11, 2019


    Guest Blogger: John Thomas, Director of Health & Wellness, Philip Rosenau Co., Inc


    We all know that we are supposed to wash our hands.  Study after study shows that proper hand hygiene is the single most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of infection whether you are in education, healthcare, or any other field serving the public.  This is especially in the case of viral diseases, such as influenza and other respiratory maladies. The stakes are high as the cold and flu season results in millions of lost school, working days and costs the economy tens of billions of dollars.

    Unfortunately, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that poor compliance to proper hand hygiene continues to be a major obstacle to controlling these illnesses, even in the highly regulated healthcare field.  In schools, while over 50%of students wash their hands, less than 20% actually use soap.  Men are also less likely to wash their hands properly – come on guys we need to get into the game.

    Poor compliance can be attributed to a number of different factors we can control.  The condition of the restroom and the supplies provided throughout the facility can and does encourage people to help keep their hands in a more hygienic condition.  These key actions can be summarized by the following four considerations.

    1. Hand care products that encourage use

      Get rid of the bulk soap dispensers.  There has been significant development in hand soap formulations that improve performance and reduce skin irritation, such as Gojo’s Clean Release Technology.  The CRT products, as well as hand soaps from other manufacturers, come in hygienically sealed cartridges which eliminates the possibility of contamination.  These are the types of products people are looking for when washing their hands away from home.  Remember, the idea is to encourage hand hygiene and not look at the expenditure only as a cost.

    2. Convenient dispenser locations

      There should be sufficient dispensers in the restroom to facilitate the hand washing process.  In addition, alcohol hand sanitizer dispensers should also be available throughout the building.  Hand sanitizer is effective against cold and flu viruses and is a viable option for when hand washing isn’t an option.  However, as with hand soap in the restroom, empty dispensers are a common complaint.  Dispensers need to be routinely checked and filled.  Ecolab’s Nexa Concentrate approach provides an economical and sustainable solution for ensuring availability of hand soap and sanitizer and is an approach worth considering.

    3. Access to paper towel and facial tissues

      Simply put, most people like to dry their hands with paper towels and most people don’t actually like hand dryers.  Paper towels provide for higher compliance and the mere wiping of wet hands can remove bacteria and viruses just through mechanical action.  But, just as with soap and sanitizer, empty dispensers discourage compliance.  To help in the area, the paper manufacturer Essity has introduced a revolutionary system, PeakServe, which provides for easy and continuous reloading of towels which helps facilities avoid this situation.  Lastly, where practical, providing facial tissues is a great way to control cross-contamination from sneezes and runny noses.  Kimberly Clark’s Kleenex brand is known and trusted and is available in options that will fit any need or situation.

    4. Establish educational programs

      As with any behavior change, education is key, and we’ll talk more about that later next month.  In the meantime, the webinar recording, Has Your Building Had Its Flu Shot, can provide additional info on the topics discussed.

    5. Oh, and what’s the 1st best way to beat the flu?
      Isn’t it obvious – GET VACCINATED!!!