By Clifton Melvin, Chairman, EcoHydra
Before the pandemic, ensuring that health and safety rules were upheld was crucial to business as usual. Now, it is critical. While it is now up to employers to decide whether their staff can work safely back at the office, employees retain the discretion to stay at home if they don’t feel their office is up to scratch. This means that maintaining vigilance and impeccable hygiene standards in the office is essential to ensuring employees feel comfortable coming back to work. Put simply, if your business is not deemed ‘safe’ by your staff, they will not return to the office.
Firstly, proper disinfection of the workplace spaces is crucial. Desks, door handles, or elevator buttons are touched constantly and need to be cleaned more often than usual, as hands are the biggest transmitters of pathogens. Alongside cleaning every surface, encouraging staff to maintain proper hand hygiene will help minimise risk for your employees.
Since it’s not always possible to wash hands after every interaction with a surface, or even practise social distancing at work, using hand sanitiser is essential. According to EcoHydra’s research, it’s also something that employees now expect to be available throughout their workspace (nearly 90%).
It’s crucial that employers and management staff choose the right product for their employees. Unfortunately, due to this increased demand, we’ve seen a flood of new, often sub-par hand sanitiser products sweep across the market. To be a viable product, all sanitisers must be effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, (the cause of the COVID-19). Indeed, while many employer’s ‘go-to’ product is alcohol-based, this may not be the best solution for their employees.
The first consideration is the long-term effectiveness of alcohol-based products. While alcohol does kill germs upon application, the effectiveness is short-lived because after the alcohol evaporates, there is nothing else to protect the hands. EcoHydra’s research shows that almost 50% of consumers expect their hand sanitiser to stay active for at least an hour, even though many products on the market have stopped being effective after a matter of seconds. While alcohol-based products are arguably more widely available, buying the more readily available product over the better one is clearly not the best course of action. There are products on the market, such as EcoHydra, that protect users for over an hour, and these may be a far more prudent purchase for employers who are putting staff welfare first.
Secondly, the product should also be safe to use, especially when applied multiple times a day. While the most popular hand sanitisers on the market are alcohol-based, these products can cause severe skin irritation and dryness. Studies with medical personnel have shown that alcohol-based products’ efficacy will reduce over time as skin irritation leaves the skin more susceptible to invasion by germs. 17% of adults in the UK suffer from skin conditions like eczema, which can be exacerbated by using alcohol-based hand sanitiser multiple times a day. Employers need to consider other alternatives, such as approved, alcohol-free hand sanitisers, like EcoHydra, to cater for these.
Moreover, storing large amounts of alcohol-based sanitisers poses a serious fire risk at the facilities, as alcohol is highly flammable. It should only be stored in suitable, fireproof cabinets, which are not always available on the site. Using alcohol-free alternatives removes this risk entirely as they are not flammable.
As companies look to navigate the ‘new normal’ ahead of us, it’s essential that hand hygiene for staff is viewed as ‘ground zero’ for protection against the virus. Containing alcohol isn’t the only the important ingredient in hand sanitiser. In fact, in many cases it is not even necessary and can be harmful for staff. Proper research is required when picking a product for your employees and shouldn’t be discounted in the wake of re-openings.