Why we need to fear hand germs
We might think that witches, zombies and werewolves are the scariest things we’ll have to deal with this Halloween, when actually something a little closer to home and work should be making us all run for cover.
Workplace germs are truly terrible things that are haunting our daily lives whether we realise it or not. Passed on mostly through our hands, these horrors can bring us colds and flu and potentially norovirus, campylobacter, E.Coli and other debilitating illnesses.
Handwashing was discovered as the answer to preventing these nasties from spreading around 150 years ago, when a Hungarian physician found that the use of soap and water to thoroughly clean hands could stop bugs from being passed on.
More recent research has shown that effective handwashing can reduce colds and respiratory illnesses by 16-21% and diarrhoea by 31%.
Unfortunately the message doesn’t seem to have hit home. A study of 100,000 people, earlier in 2015, found that 62% of men and 40% of women are not washing their hands after using the toilet.
The very unpleasant truth is that when we don’t wash our hands after the toilet we are effectively transporting faecal matter from our hands onto our food, to other people, to door handles and work equipment. A single gram of human faeces contains one trillion germs which means a jaw dropping number of bacteria can make their way from one person to another, in these ways, extremely quickly.
It is claimed that a virus can spread through an office in two to four hours, infecting 40-60% of people in that time.
There are a few things we can all do to help encourage a culture of clean hands at work. These include putting posters in washrooms reminding everyone to wash their hands, or even simple diagrams explaining how to do this properly. Experts advise that we wash our hands with soap and water for around 15 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, before drying them.
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