Best Practices for Handwashing and Hand Sanitizing in the Workplace
Policywire by AmTrust
Respiratory illnesses and other germs can spread very quickly within a community, and this is especially true in the workplace. Viruses are spread through coughing, sneezing, touching objects with contaminated hands, and then touching your face after coming into contact with these objects. Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Today, it is more important than ever to practice good hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.
Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer in the Time of COVID-19
Experts say the best way to avoid contracting coronavirus is through safe personal hygiene practices, including staying at least six feet away from others and washing your hands frequently.
Handwashing Best Practices for the Workplace
Handwashing should take place throughout the day, especially:
After being in a public place
After touching a surface that may have been frequently touched by others (doorknobs, elevator buttons, tables, handles, shopping carts, etc.)
Before touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth in particular)
Before leaving the restroom • Before, during and after preparing food, especially raw food
Before eating food
After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
After touching garbage or recycling
After using public computers, touching public tables and countertops, cash and coins and other people's phones
Before and after administering first aid
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, workers should be extra mindful when they wash their hands. First, apply a generous amount of soap to the inside and back of the hands as well as the fingertips, then lather by rubbing both hands together for at least 20 seconds. A popular way of doing this is internally singing “Happy Birthday” twice. Next, rinse thoroughly and completely dry your hands with a disposable towel. Avoid touching doorknobs, toilet flush handles and faucets after washing your hands whenever possible.
Proper Hand Sanitizer Use
If soap and water are not available, the next best option is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand rub with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. The alcohol in hand sanitizer breaks up the virus making it unable to reproduce. When using hand sanitizers, apply a generous drop to the palm of the hand and rub it across both hands, front and back, and the fingertips for at least 20 seconds.
Entrances and exits: Doorknobs and door handles are surfaces that can transmit viruses very quickly in the workplace. On top of frequently cleaning these types of high-touch surfaces, hand sanitizer stations should be readily available near these areas.
Cafeterias and break rooms: The kitchen or breakroom is one of the germiest spots in an office. Place hand sanitizer stations at entry/exit of the cafeteria and in places where soap and water are not readily available.
Conference and meeting rooms: Conference rooms are often full of employees, clients, and other visitors who can easily spread germs just by a handshake. Place hand sanitizer near the door as people enter or have it on the conference room table.
Employee workstations and desks: Phones, computer keyboards, computer mice, and desks are prime germ transfer areas. The coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours. On top of cleaning the surface, hand sanitizer should be at everyone's desks.
Transaction counters: Hand sanitizers should be available for use for workers and customers (where applicable) at checkout and transactional areas.
Employers should provide fact sheets and seminars about the importance of proper hand hygiene in the workplace. Encourage workers to use hand sanitizer to keep the worksite healthy. Most importantly, for the safety of everyone in the workplace, remind workers if they are not feeling well, do not come into work.
Disclaimer: WorkersCompensation.com publishes independently generated writings from a variety of workers' compensation industry stakeholders. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WorkersCompensation.com.