Don't Hand Me That


The Integrated Benefits Institute, who studies health and productivity at work, conducted a study that found illness cost the United States $227 billion annually. While absenteeism is the primary cost variable they also considered when employees reported to work sick and were not able to perform at their best. Additionally, everyone at one time or another has been victim to that sick worker who comes into work and becomes the office ‘pathogen’, infecting everyone within sneezing distance. Whether someone in your work area is sick or not, germs are ever present. 

We are well into cold and flu season and thought should be given to how to prevent, not just the cold and flu, but other illness that the change in seasons bring. We touched on flu vaccinations last month which is a great first step. The next step should be a diligent washing of your hands. 

The Center for Disease Control states that the simple act of keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Diseases such as respiratory infections (Influenza/Flu) and gastrointestinal infections (such as Salmonella among others) can all be spread by touch. Washing your hands helps prevent the spread of such illness. 

Handwashing is like administering a self-vaccination. This simple act involves five steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) that when done will reduce the spread of diarrheal, respiratory and other illness so you can stay healthy. When you make a habit of regular handwashing, before and after certain activities, it is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. It's quick, it's simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick. 

At A Minimum Wash Your Hands: 

  • Before, during, and after preparing food 

  • Before eating food 

  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick 

  • Before and after treating a cut or wound 

  • After using the toilet 

  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing 

  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste 

  • After touching garbage 

CDC recommends cleaning hands in a specific way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The guidance for effective handwashing and use of hand sanitizer was developed based on data from a number of studies. 

CDC Recommended 5 Steps to Wash Your Hands: 

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. 

• The temperature of the water in studies doesn’t appear to affect germs 

• Using a wash basin can contaminate your hands by previous cleanings 

2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 

• If soap and clean running water isn’t available use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol 

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. 

• Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 

4. Rinse your hands well under clean running water. 

5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. 

For more great safety tips, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!