Hand sanitizers kill germs but do not require the use of a sink or water. However, if an employee’s hands are visibly soiled, they need to wash their hands with soap and water.
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Explore This IssueFebruary/March 2006
For example, if an employee is working with a cash register and then switches to working with food, he or she can thoroughly rub hand sanitizer on his or her hands to clean them as long as his or her hands are not visibly soiled.
Most sanitizers are alcohol-based, but there are some alcohol-free formulas available. The two active ingredients that replace alcohol are benzalkonium chloride and benzethonium chloride. Like the alcohol-based formulas, these sanitizers do not need to be rinsed off. However, the non-alcohol sanitizers contain more water so it may take longer for your hands to dry after use.
Often cross-contamination occurs by touching the soap or sanitizer dispensers.
No-touch dispensers are available to dispense soap or alcohol-based sanitizers and are less likely to allow for cross-contamination because the person using the dispenser does not need to touch anything to get soap or sanitizer. Many touch-free dispensers are equipped with an infrared beam that is emitted from the dispenser. When a hand appears, breaking the beam between the dispenser and the countertop, soap or sanitizer comes out of the dispenser into the hand placed underneath. With no-touch dispensers, it is important to make sure batteries are checked and replaced often. It is also important to make sure the dispenser does not run out of soap.
Train and Re-train
When should employees be trained on proper handwashing techniques and frequency?
New employees should learn about handwashing during orientation. Show new workers where the sinks and sanitizing stations are and remind them when to wash their hands. Put up wall charts as reminders in work areas and employee lounges.
It is good idea to conduct a refresher course annually for all employees to correct bad habits and remind workers of when they should be washing their hands. Take this opportunity to share CDC statistics with workers and explain the connection between clean hands and public health.
Kirk Spiegel is product manager, skin care, for JohnsonDiversey Inc.(Sturtevant, Wis.). Reach him at 262-631-2685 or email@example.com.