National Handwashing Awareness Month: December 1 – 7th

December 1st through the 7th is National Handwashing Awareness Week. As such, it is the perfect opportunity to teach your employees the importance of handwashing. Every work environment requires regular hand washing to avoid the cold or flu, remove germs, and especially when employees or handling food for their customers.

No matter what type of business you have, National Handwashing Awareness Week is a great time to educate your employees on this important preventative habit. According to theCenters for Disease Control, washing your hands is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick, which is a huge benefit it itself.

The Importance of Handwashing

Start by understanding and explaining the importance of handwashing. Children are susceptible to illness and can get sicker more easily, due to immune systems that aren’t fully developed. So if you have a business with children patients or customers, hand washing must be done regularly throughout the day. If you run a restaurant, be aware that disease can live in the foods you prepare and touch with your hands, like vegetables and meat. Germs on your hands can spread to food you serve as well.

How to Wash Your Hands Correctly

It might seem silly, but teaching your employees how to wash their hands correctly is important, and a great time to do this is during National Handwashing Awareness Week. Employees should be using soap and very warm water, though not too hot as it can burn their hands. Make sure they rub their hands together, scrubbing all of their hands and fingers, for at least 15 seconds. A good rule of thumb is to sing the entire Happy Birthday song while handwashing. After scrubbing, instruct them to rinse their hands and dry with a clean towel (usually a paper towel). It is helpful to use the paper towel for turning off the faucet.

The Rules of Hand Washing

Every workplace should have some general rules for hand washing. During National Handwashing Awareness Week, have a flyer printed and placed on all bulletin boards of your building, as well as bathrooms and break rooms, or any other common areas. Some things to include on the flyer include the following:

  • Avoid placing your fingers in your hair, eyes, mouth or nose.
  • Don’t touch work surfaces or other people with unclean hands.
  • Always wash your hands after dealing with pets, using the restroom, handling money or changing diapers.
  • Wash your hands even if they aren’t currently dirty.
  • Wash your hands before eating.
  • Wash your hands before, during and after food preparation.
  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.

Not only is frequent hand washing important when dealing with customers or patients, it helps reduce illnesses from being spread around the office, which may affect the productivity of your business. Even though your employees are likely washing their hands as they should, it helps to give them this reminder every year during National Handwashing Awareness Week. In addition to this, employers should be covered with workers’ compensation insurance as an additional protection.