“I thought Covid had taught us the value of thorough hand washing, but…”
A recent report on the Warrington Guardian website is both morbidly fascinating and horrifying in equal measures. The columnist begins by recounting a personal experience with a greatly admired colleague, who nonetheless seemed to have a considerable hygiene problem, in that he apparently rarely washed his hands after going to the toilet.
All this despite the fact that “he must have known he was potentially spreading disease”.
This rather unfortunate introduction then leads to some really concerning results of a study commissioned by a collective that consists of Cheshire and Merseyside’s nine Directors of Public Health. The Champs Public Health Collaborative – who’s mission “is to improve the health and wellbeing of the 2.5 million people we serve” – tested communal workplace kitchens across the area covered by the group.
Lurking on a variety of surfaces such as coffee machines, handles of doors, cupboards and fridges and coffee machines were – wait for it – “microbes that are usually spread through faeces, as well as many different types of fungus”.
The types of kitchens swabbed and analysed, says the report, included those in a range of facilities in a cross-section of companies, from offices to construction sites.
“The results revealed how high touchpoints could be playing a major role in the spread of bacteria which could eventually lead to illnesses, especially among those with weakened immune systems.”
Results revealed, for example, the presence of Pseudomonas, E.coli and Kledsiella.
Why washing with soap and water is so important
If any of the above are ingested they can lead to infection and illness, according to one of the chief researchers within the Infection Innovation Consortium* (iiCON). Dr Adam Roberts is quoted as saying that communal kitchen areas were discovered to be “full of various types of bacteria, many of which can be found in faeces.”
The conclusion that he draws is that it is highly likely that
“…people are simply not washing their hands thoroughly – or at all – after going to the toilet and then going to make themselves a cup of tea or preparing their lunch, for example.”
All of which leads to the inevitable point of this article. Effective hand washing after toilet use in the workplace – or anywhere else for that matter – is essential. As the article points out, “Covid is very much still with us”. So good habits that were taken on board when the pandemic first hit seems to be receding now.
“So my message is: Don’t be dirty – just wash your hands when you’ve been to the toilet.”
*iiCON is described as “a world leading centre for infection innovation and R&D – working with industry, academics, and clinicians to save and improve lives around the world by supporting innovation and progressing the development of antimicrobial products and treatments.”
Effective mobile hand washing for everyone – wherever their place of work
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