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Washing hands; the go to guide for hand hygiene in the workplace [2021]

Hand holding soapy bubbles

This is the comprehensive go-to guide for hand hygiene in the workplace.

If you are looking for detailed information on:

  • Best practices to try and prevent work related skin disease
  • Identifying common workplace skin disorders
  • Selecting soap for industrial environments
  • Installing workplace hand-care systems
  • How Bert-BMW mechanics maintain A1 hand hygiene

Then you will love this new guide.

Let’s get started!

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BONUS: For a complete list of hygiene issues that you may encounter at work, check out our page: 59 Important COVID Workplace Hygiene Statistics where you’ll find a complete list all common workplace hygiene stats and more.

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Chapter 1: Best Practices to try and prevent work related skin disease

Work related skin diseases, if left unattended, can cause all sorts of problems, negatively affecting the productivity of staff and just be, well, painful.

In any and all cases, one of the best things we can do is to try and stop work related skin disease before they happen by introducing an effective and cost-efficient skin care programme.

5 steps to try and prevent work related skin diseases

1 – Educate staff of the risks

This is the very first task that needs to be undertaken.

Everyone needs to understand not only what the skincare programme is (eg. what creams, lotions and other skin care products are being introduced) but why this preventative programme is being put in place.

You can go ahead and provide the best skincare products for your staff, but if no one is going to use them then it’s a waste of money.

Education then, is key.

All staff need to be told the importance of their skincare and hygiene and given appropriate learning materials where necessary.

This then needs to be reinforced and upheld by management.

2 – Only use specialist products

Getting the right products in place is vital.

You will want to find appropriate, industry specific products from trustworthy brands.

These products should be extremely high quality and aimed to protect and recondition your workers skin. This is because a specialist will tailor the right type of skincare programme to match your industry and workers’ needs, making all the difference to their health over longer periods.

3 – Make seasonal adjustments

Different seasons bring the different factors to work related skin diseases, so your skincare programme has to be able to adapt.

For example, in hot weather germs and bacteria thrive and it is vitally important to have good easily accessible hand cleanser which will help stop the spread of illnesses.

On the other hand, in winter, skin can dry out and is weakened by the colder weather.

Initiating a programme that uses specialist creams or oil-extracts which contain moisturizing chemicals can help protect workers skin from getting dry.

These can also help prevent skin softening under gloves and help reduce irritation.

Of course it’s not all about the weather, and different industries can have different staple skincare products they will need to use year round.

If you work with chemicals or other hazardous products, it’s important that your skincare programme reflects this.

4 – Keep it easy and accessible

It’s vital that you employ a system that makes it easier to clean hands well.

All staff are busy and can be distracted and, let’s be honest, not all of them are going to be that motivated to maintain good techniques.

Having clear instructions on the wall helps by reinforcing that message.

Another point: If it never gets put out, it physically can’t be used.

It seems like an obvious fact, but have you ever worked in an environment where no one knows where the cleaning products of hand sanitizer
is?

I know I have.

In practicality, this might mean anything from assigning tasks to individuals – like making sure bathroom soap dispensers are full to specific individuals, to installing hand sanitizer stations at various points around the office, kitchen, warehouse etc.

5 – Keep reinforcing the message!

The final point brings us full circle.

All the products in the world will do nothing if nobody uses them.

You can’t always force your staff to wash their hands, but they shouldn’t ever be allowed to forget that it’s their responsibility to use the systems you’ve provided.

So, to ensure staff are doing their best to keep their skin healthy in the workplace and taking full advantage of the resources and products you’re supplying, think about setting aside a little time in each of your staff meetings to get feedback for the products stocked and to receive suggestions from staff.

In this way you can help generate conversation around the skincare regime that has been implemented, making sure no one forgets that the products are there or what they are for.

This has an added bonus; their feedback might even lead to better products that are more effective and cost efficient.

Summary

Implementing a good and successful skincare regime is one of the most effective way to prevent work related skin diseases.

It isn’t rocket science, but it does require a bit of effort.

And not just from management, from everyone.

Making sure staff understand the benefit if it to them will help – but this needs to be reinforced by action.

Talk to cleaning system experts for advice on what industry specific skincare products you will need and to get advice on the proper skincare regime for your workers, such as a complete hand care system.

They will also be able to advise you on the best way to implement your skincare programme to get the desired results.

They’ll also help you make sure that it’s as cost efficient as possible!

Chapter 2: Identifying common workplace skin disorders

It’s next to impossible to avoid all skin problems in the workplace. This is especially true of the hands and forearms.

The simple fact is we touch things.

Everybody’s skin is different also, which means that what might work for some may not work with other people as their skin reacts differently to other chemicals.

Other factors that need to be considered are that you can do everything right at work, but your employees are only there for around eight hours of twenty four.

Plus, another thing that is frequently overlooked are the seasonal changes which can adversely affect people’s skins.

What causes occupational skin diseases?

Occupational skin diseases are caused by direct contact with one or more hazardous substances. The skin can come into contact with substances through:

  • Immersion
  • Contact with contaminated tools or surfaces (for example a workbench, tools or clothing)
  • Splashing
  • Substances landing on the skin

However, some workers are more at risk from occupational skin disorders.

These include, but aren’t limited to, those people in construction, health care, food service, auto-repair, and cosmetology.

Essentially anyone who works with harsh cleaning chemicals is more at risk due to the fact their skin will likely come into contact with hazardous chemicals.

And whilst there are a number of measurements in place focused on preventing inhalation exposure of hazardous chemicals, standardised methods for reducing chemical-related skin exposure can be lacking.

Contact Dermatitis – Eczema

There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant dermatitis and allergic dermatitis. These have the same appearance but different causes.

Let’s look at them both.

IRRITANT DERMATITIS

This is normally caused by a chemical agent coming into contact with the skin.

There are varying degrees of severity, but as a general rule, the longer a chemical is in contact with skin the worse the case becomes.

Irritant dermatitis then makes the skin more vulnerable to other hazards such as bacteria and chemicals.

An important classification of irritant dermatitis is that the condition stops after contact with the irritant stops.

ALLERGIC DERMATITIS

This can be caused by exposure to an allergen or sensitiser, normally a hazardous substance.

It is not uncommon then for irritant dermatitis to lead to allergic dermatitis.

The cause is the sufferers’ immune system being sensitised to the hazardous material as opposed to the chemical agent itself.

Once sensitised, the problem is often a lifelong one and any further contact or exposure will have the same reaction.

Causes of irritant dermatitis include cleaning products, organic solvents, metalworking fluids, cement and other chemicals, some plants and shrubs, and water.

And although we may need to wash our hands, over-washing can itself cause irritation.

This makes workers in industries like hairdressing, the food industry and people who work with metalworking fluids highly susceptible to irritant dermatitis.

Contact Urticaria

Contact urticaria is a skin condition characterised by redness and swellings.

The swellings appear where the hazardous substance has come into contact with the skin and normally occur within an hour of exposure and disappear after 24 hours.

Latex for example, is a common cause of the condition.

Acne

Acne is caused by blockage of glands in the skin which then become inflamed.

There are many causes for this, not least of which are genetic, however it can be caused or significantly worsened by exposure to substances such as oil, halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons and coal tar.

It can also be caused by long term contact with oily clothes.

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. This condition is common in people in the metal industry who are exposed to mineral and soluble oils.

Pigmentary disorders

Pigmentary disorders include depigmentation (a loss of skin colour) and hyperpigmentation (an accumulation of skin colour).

Depigmentation can be caused by chemicals such as hydroquinone, phenol (and its derivatives), arsenic and mercury compounds.

It can also be caused by ionising and ultraviolet radiation, as well as thermal or physical trauma.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by mineral oils, halogenated hydrocarbons, arsenic and various pharmaceutical agents.

Skin Cancers

Skin cancer can be caused by ultraviolet light (either sunlight or artificial), ionising radiation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, tar, and tar products.

Jobs that require a lot of labour outside in the sun, or people working with radiation are the most susceptible to this.

Prevention

Prevention can be difficult. Precautions you take should involve but are not be limited to providing appropriate safety wear. For example, gloves, an apron, goggles, a mask.

There should also be appropriate soap – something that isn’t too harsh, but strong enough for the purposes of hygiene.

A touch free solution is advisable too.

On top of this hand cream in bathrooms can help replenish oils in the skin and keep the skin healthy and pain free.

Especially worthwhile investing in for some of the workplaces mentioned in this article, or during seasons where dry skin is common.

Investing in a good soap and a practical dispensing system for your workplace will save you money in the long run.

It will help prevent the spread of illness as well as helping prevent any more serious skin conditions in the workforce.

On top of that a well-designed industrial hand soap dispenser like One2Clean will save soap and the associated costs with its practical automated dispensers.

Chapter 3: Selecting soap for industrial environments

Is your soap killing workplace productivity?

Whether we like it or not, it is necessary to regularly clean and take care of our hands with soap.

Why?

Let’s start with the obvious.

Good hand hygiene is probably the single best and simplest way to stop the spread of illness at work.

Research shows that it’s not only sick days that cost UK workplaces, but also an increased number of people being at work when they’re ill enough to be at home.

Throughout any given workday employees have to use their hands continuously, from opening doors to shaking clients’ hands and much more.

They come into contact with a lot of surfaces and the bacteria can very quickly find its way to everyone in the workplace.

While a cold or flu going round the office isn’t going to deal any death blows to the workforce, all of these activities expose hands to harmful germs and bacteria.

Illness is linked to productivity loss, costing employers an estimated $225.8 billion annually in the U.S.

Considering that 80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hands, it’s crucial to implement an effective hand hygiene program at work.

It’s not all about avoiding illness though

Our hands go through a lot each day.

They can get damaged and exposed to harsh chemicals, which can lead to dry, irritated, and painful skin, and eventually skin diseases.
The good news is that a proper hand hygiene system can help you avoid all this.

It will help you prevent sickness spreading in the workplace which will in turn increase productivity.

However, just buying a few gallons of that pink stuff you find dribbling out of nightclub soap dispensers probably isn’t going to quite cut it. If for no other reason than the wastage costs will quickly add up.

Science Session: How does soap work?

1: SOAP LESSENS THE SURFACE TENSION OF THE WATER

Surface tension is what causes water to form droplets or beads on surfaces.

This phenomenon slows the cleaning process, according to the American Cleaning Institute.

The bond that each water molecule makes with other water molecules creates the surface tension, in which all molecules are pulled into a droplet. Soap though helps reduce that surface tension so that it can spread more evenly across a surface and speed up the cleaning process.

2: SOAP MOLECULES ARE HYDROPHILIC (WATER-ATTRACTING) ON ONE SIDE AND HYDROPHOBIC (WATER-REPELLING) ON THE OTHER

It is the structure of soap molecules that make them clean, not any antibacterial chemicals in the product.

The molecules are long and thin, one end, as we just said hydrophobic, and the other hydrophilic.

The hydrophobic ends of the molecules are attracted to dirt and oil and gather round attaching to those dirt and oil particles, while the hydrophilic ends stick outward waiting to be rinsed away by water.

Some soap contains abrasives to help scour surfaces to better remove stubborn dirt and grime; water softeners to help additionally with making the water easier to clean with; and enzymes to help with biological stains such as grass or blood by digesting proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

How do you choose a soap that boost productivity in the workplace?

At Chela we invest heavily in R&D and have developed a number of high-performance ‘intelligent chemistry’ products.

We’ve supply a compete had cleaning system designed specifically for intensive working environments.

Make sure – as a minimum – that you choose a system as comprehensive and safe as the one we supply.

Chapter 4: Installing a workplace hand-care system

This chapter is a complete guide to selecting, installing, and maintaining a fool proof skin care system in the workplace.

Often our workplaces can expose us to scenarios that are especially damaging for our skin. From over washing our hands, to coming into contact with harmful irritants.

On top of this, in the workplace we are often in close quarters with a large number of people which increases our chances of coming into contact with dangerous bacteria.

Good hand hygiene then is probably the single best and simplest way to stop the spread of illness at work.

The good news is that a proper hand hygiene system isn’t that hard to put in place and can effectively mitigate workplace risks of skin disorders and the spread of illnesses.

One2Clean – The complete hand cleaning system

One 2 Clean is a hand cleaning system designed specifically for the workplace to help them become more hygienic, and also to help look after the hand health of your staff.

BENEFITS OF ONE2CLEAN?

Automatic Dispenser
Designed with an automatic dispenser to cut down soap wastage by dispensing the same dose every time, saving an estimated 85% on consumption

Optimum Hygiene
The automatic dispensers also means using the One2clean range touch free, meaning there’s no need to cover the soap dispenser in the germs we are trying so hard to avoid

Large Capacity Cartridges
This means that the dispensers will run out less often, meaning less frequent changes and less of a need to order replacement cartridges which also reduces incoming deliveries.

Investing in a good soap and a practical dispensing system for your workplace can save you money in the long run.

It will help prevent the spread of illness as well as helping prevent any more serious skin conditions in the workforce.

On top of that, a well-designed hands free soap dispenser system like One2Clean will save soap and the associated costs with its practical automated dispensers.

Chapter 5: How BMW mechanics maintain A1 hand hygiene

Bert Story is a well-known BMW and MINI dealer.

The Story branches in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Waardenburg and Nijmegen are all part of the Pala Group which includes a total of nine BMW dealers.

Story is part of BMW’s biggest dealership in the Netherlands.

Hein Dekkers, After sales Manager at Story in ‘s-Hertogenbosch told us:

“Hand care is very important to us. We have 11 fulltime mechanics working here who I would estimate wash their hands 10x a day.
We changed to Dreumex hand soap a few years ago because for us it offers a quality that cleans dirty hands really well and it protects them too.

We have noticed that hand care is important to our mechanics, especially in winter and I have never heard any of the mechanics complain about it so it must be good.”

A couple of years ago we started using the Dreumex One2clean concept.

Consumption reduced considerably as a result and consequently so did the costs by 61%.

Furthermore, the automatic dispenser system works really well, which means there is less waste, and we are taking better care of the environment. So one hand washes the other, both literally and figuratively.”

You can see the full BMW + One2Clean Case Study here

Conclusion

So, that’s our comprehensive go-to guide for hand hygiene in the workplace.

Get in touch with us today and let us know your thoughts.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Photo by Matthew Tkocz on Unsplash