Chris Wakefield, Managing Director UK & Ireland, GOJO Industries-Europe Ltd, explains how making some smart hygiene choices can help protect staff and customers this winter.
Winter is the prime season for germs. Colds, flu, norovirus, and other seasonal viruses rear their heads in the colder months, and, of course, this year we still have Coronavirus in circulation too.
Good hygiene has always been key to preventing the spread of seasonal infection. Numerous winter wellness campaigns in the past have aimed to encourage better hand (and surface) hygiene, but it wasn’t until the outbreak of the pandemic that it started being taken seriously.
However, two years on, coronavirus lethargy is setting in. Despite market research stating that eight in 10 people now expect to see hand sanitiser in public facilities, how many people are actually stopping to use them? Within the industry, there is a feeling that people are neglecting the importance of hand hygiene: recent US reports have indicated that handwashing has fallen to pre-COVID levels, and even within the NHS, compliance levels have started to fall.
Surface hygiene is just as important as clean hands too. Preliminary studies indicate that the Omicron variant can survive much longer on plastic and skin than earlier COVID variants – and you might be surprised at just how long other germs can remain infectious. For example, norovirus, (aka the winter vomiting bug) can live on surfaces for up to 12 days, and other pathogens much longer.
The fact is, we can’t afford to become complacent. The wake of the COVID crisis, combined with the germ season, means the need for effective hygiene solutions to reduce the risk of infection has never been greater. The hygiene of hands and high touch surfaces is especially important in many working environments, so it’s vital that healthy practices are encouraged to protect both staff and customers alike.
Make smart purchases
The first step to driving positive behaviour is to ensure there is easy access to good quality products. But there is a plethora of solutions on the market today: disinfectants, detergents, soaps, sanitising gels. Some suitable for hands, others only for surfaces, but all claiming to have superior germ killing power.
It can be a minefield knowing which is the most suitable to purchase, and a weighty responsibility too. Making the wrong choice can result in low effectiveness (and therefore increased rates of transmission), and / or poor user experiences, which in turn can reduce levels of compliance.
Knowing exactly what to look for will help buyers sort the wheat from the chaff, ensuring the impact of seasonal bugs on businesses is minimised. Product selection is made easy when you know how to spot an effective formulation.
Firstly, when it comes to hand hygiene, solutions should be dermatologically tested to ensure they won’t irritate. Opt for those that are enriched with moisturising agents to maintain skin health.
Proven antimicrobial efficacy is essential for both skin and surface hygiene. Check that the product meets key EN standards to ensure it is fit for purpose. It must deliver against norms EN1276, EN14476, and EN13727. Hand gels must conform to EN1500 too, whilst surface sanitisers that may be used in food-contact areas should state that they have passed a ‘food taint’ test, so as not to affect the taste or smell of food.
A smart choice for many businesses these days are the new Hand and Surface Antimicrobial wipes from PURELL®. Ideal for use in healthcare, leisure, education, health and fitness facilities, hotels, and office buildings, these versatile multi-use wipes are suitable for sanitising hands, general surfaces, and food-contact surfaces. They meet all key EN norms, including EN16615, the gold standard for wipes. Eliminating the need for different types of wipes and surface sanitisers, they are an essential part of the cleaning toolkit and make the purchasing decision process much simpler.
According to the scientific study of habit formation, if you want to cultivate good habits, you have to reduce friction and make it easy for people to comply. So, supplying smart, effective, and versatile solutions, that can be used everywhere in a facility to quickly sanitise hands and surfaces, will go a long way in influencing hygienic behaviour.
At a time when germs are prevalent and people are slipping back into old habits, taking steps to encourage good hand and surface hygiene practice will help employees, visitors and customers to stay well this winter.