Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University have found that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) six-step hand washing technique is the best way to keep hands clean and prevent the spread of infection.
The study involved a randomised control trial that tracked 42 physicians and 78 nurses at an acute-care teaching hospital as they washed their hands with an alcohol-based solution.
Half of the participants washed their hands using the WHO six-step method and the other half used the Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC) three-step method.
The results found that the six-step technique, which takes about 7.5 seconds longer than the three-step technique, was more effective to reduce bacterial count.
“The study provides the first evidence in a randomised controlled trial that the six-step technique is superior,” conclude the authors in the paper published at Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
“Healthcare organisations using the three-step technique in practice should consider this evidence,” they added.
However, only 65 per cent of the study participants washed their hands correctly using either protocol.
This comes as no surprise; even we use our hands every day they are often overlooked when it comes to employee health and safety.
Poor hand hygiene can result in illnesses such as dermatitis and other infections which in turn can have a negative impact on a company’s overall employee health and productivity.
Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure they provide a safe working environment for their employees and addressing hand hygiene is an important part of this.
Some best practices for healthy hands around the workplace include:
- Opting for solvent-free cleansers: Many industrial cleansers contain dangerous ingredients that can irritate hands and be absorbed through the skin which over time, can lead to harmful levels of toxins in the body.
- Making cleansers accessible: Having hand cleansing products in locations where they are easy to find and see can help increase hand washing compliance throughout the day.
- Washing hands properly: Encourage employees to wash their hands properly by washing all hand surfaces, including the backs of hands, wrists, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Rinse well and dry hands with a clean towel.