Effective Handwashing and Other Germ-Preventing Practices in the Workplace

By Anne Baley

Effective Handwashing and Other Germ-Preventing Practices in the Workplace

Fear that others aren't using effective handwashing techniques in the workplace is a nearly universal concern. In a survey of office workers across England, two in five of the more than 300 polled reported that they typically open workplace restroom doors with their elbows or other body parts to avoid touching door handles and knobs. The study, which was conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional and published in the European Cleaning Journal, revealed that 56 percent of those surveyed feared their coworkers weren't washing their hands properly after using the restroom.


Clearly, this study illustrates the need for addressing your employees' concerns by insisting on effective handwashing in the workplace. Proper washing includes rubbing soap between the fingers and on the fronts and backs of the hands for 20 seconds (which can be timed by singing the song "Happy Birthday" twice), and then rinsing hands, as well as drying them with a paper towel or an air hand dryer.


Other Preventative Measures to Avoid Germs

Opening a restroom door with an elbow or shoulder is actually a smart habit for any employee and adds to the general health of the entire workforce. Some of the ways employees can avoid passing germs in workplace restrooms include the following:


  • Opening the restroom door with a paper towel instead of bare hands.
  • Using a paper towel to turn off the faucet. (No one has clean hands when they turn the water on, so it's usually one of the germiest places in the room.)
  • Avoiding laying purses, backpacks, or bags on a restroom floor, which is a known spot for bacterial transmission.

Custodial Team Best Practices

While good hygiene certainly contributes to a clean office environment, your custodial staff plays the biggest role. After all, the fewer germs that exist in the building to begin with, the less often they're transmitted to employees. Keeping the restroom free of bacteria and viruses is actually the biggest step any company can take in battling workplace illness. The more diligence, the better.


The best way to thoroughly clean office restrooms is by using a spray-and-vac. Custodial staff use these systems to apply a cleaning solution to every surface in the room: the walls (if they are tiled), the floor, and all the fixtures. After allowing the solution to work for a few minutes, a crew member can then use a brush to loosen soil in grout lines and then finish the job with a high-powered sprayer. This rinses the cleaning solution, soil, and germs onto the floor, where they can be picked up by the system's powerful vacuum.


For more information on the importance of restroom cleanliness in preventing the spread of germs, click here.

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