Public spaces like gyms are usually rife with germs. Germs line door handles, desks, workout machines, bathroom surfaces and beyond. Clients and employees bring germs to the facility at an especially high frequency during the winter months but summer is no exception. Some bring in germs from their sick children at home. Others pick up germs from flights, the supermarket or other public spaces and carry them in to the gym. Unfortunately, exposure to germs disrupts work schedules. One of the best ways to mitigate employee sickness and subsequent absenteeism is the use of hand sanitizer.
A Word About Viruses and Bacteria
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, certain bacteria and viruses can survive upwards of two hours on doorknobs, tables and desks. The failure to properly wash one's hands plays a major role in the spread of these germs. The bulk of infectious diseases are transmitted by way of contact with the hands. Employees share work spaces in which they touch a myriad of objects with their hands. They also share break rooms, the kitchen, bathrooms and other common spaces.
The Role of Hand Sanitizer
Unfortunately, plenty of people are unwilling to wash their hands in a thorough manner. Some will run water over their hands after using the bathroom and fail to use soap. Others will simply wipe their hands with a paper towel. Few spend the full 20 seconds advised by the CDC for a comprehensive hand washing with hot water and anti-bacterial soap.
Enter hand sanitizer. Place hand sanitizer on your front desk, by machines and throughout your facility. Plenty of people are willing to take the few seconds necessary to use hand sanitizer. It is much easier to squirt some of this solution on your hands than it is to subject your hands to hot water and scrub them down with soap. There is even proof for the efficacy of hand sanitizers. Studies show using hand sanitizer can decrease absenteeism by upwards of 50 percent.
A study detailed online in BMC Infections Diseases shows the use of hand sanitizers in the workplace is a low-cost means of decreasing illness and employee absenteeism. Study participants who used hand sanitizer had a massive reduction in fever, coughs and the common cold. These individuals missed fewer days of work as a result of illness than those in the group that did not use hand sanitizer.
Another study was conducted at FedEx's Custom Critical headquarters located in Green, Ohio. This 34-week study was undertaken to determine if using hand sanitizer could help decrease workplace absences stemming from sickness. The results show a considerable difference between the group that used hand sanitizer and the group that did not use it. Absenteeism decreases by a whopping 21% in the group that used hand sanitizer. Absenteeism did not change for the group that was not involved in the hand sanitizer program.
The Type of Hand Sanitizer Matters a Great Deal
Don't select any old hand sanitizer. Opt for the anti-bacterial variety to combat the spread of nasty bacteria. The ideal type of hand sanitizer is instant hand sanitizer that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria. It even kills those uber-nasty organisms like MRSA that can cause horrible infections that are difficult to combat. It is also worth mentioning that alcohol-free sanitizers are available. This type of sanitizer is less likely to crack the hands and lead to an infection. They are non-flammable and non-drying to the skin.
Encourage a “Foam In and Foam Out” Approach
Install wall-mounted hand sanitizers by the entrances and exits of your facility. Place them near common areas as well. Make it clear that employees are encouraged to abide by the “foam in and foam out” approach that is common for health care settings. Whenever a medical professional enters a patient's space, he uses hand sanitizer foam. It is used once again when leaving the patient's room. Encourage employees at your facility to adopt a similar approach to stop the spread of germs. If enough employees make use of hand sanitizer at such a frequency, your staff's sick days will likely decrease.
A Tiny Squirt Won't Suffice
Make sure employees know a diminutive dab of hand sanitizer will not prove adequate in the fight against germs. Employees should be encouraged to use a sizable dollop of hand sanitizer and rub it along the top, bottom and sides of the hands. Instruct them to continue rubbing their hands until they are dry. This should take at least 20 seconds or longer. If one's hands are dry in 10 seconds or less, he/she has not used enough hand sanitizer.