Workplace Handwashing Best Practices

Topics: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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 Sanitizing 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.  

Hand Sanitizer Placement in the Workplace

As the economy reopens and workers return to the workplace, the CDC has put into place guidelines for different industries, including restaurants, retail and offices. Businesses are encouraged to provide soap and water and hand sanitizer throughout the workplace and keep an ample supply on hand for future use. Hand sanitizers in the workplace should be easily accessible and placed near high touched surfaces and communal areas such as:
  • 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. 

Supporting Small Businesses During Reopening

AmTrust offers tips to help small businesses reopen safely and efficiently. We also have a library of coronavirus resources to help our appointed agents and small business insured stay informed, safe, and healthy throughout these difficult times. For more information about our small business insurance solutions, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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