With the Covid 19 pandemic changing our world as we know it, we need to make new choices regarding how we work and how best to keep ourselves, our staff and our customers as safe as possible. The new UK Government advice is clear insofar as it expect every business have hand sanitiser easily available to everyone. This advice stems from the fact that hand hygiene is widely supported as the most important strategy in reducing the occurrence of infections (Cardo et al., 2010; Shojania et al., 2001). This doesn’t just mean a bottle on each desk – it goes far further than that. A study by Mason (2007) found that the most common reason given for failing to wash hands was that the hand washing station was“too far away”.
Further evidence supporting the need for easily accessible hand washing stations comes from Bischoff et al. (2000) who found that compliance increased in accordance with ease of access. Outside all entrances, inside all entrances, by the reception desk, outside every washroom, kitchenette, food store and office entranceway. Perhaps one or two by each lift and stairwell entrance? Hand sanitiser in the traditional place of washing with soap and water is key to improving hand hygiene as it requires less time, is less irritating to the skin and is microbiologically more effective (Trampus and Widmer, 2004). With sanitiser widely accepted due to its effectiveness and practicality, (Thomas et al., 2009) we must now look at how to ensure easy access to this disease fighting tool.
Which is best? A wall mounted dispenser or a free standing one? Well, that depends on if you need portability and if you are prepared to drill fixings into the walls of your offices and reception areas. Wall mounted is by far and away the cheaper option, whilst having your dispenser on a stand offers you so much more in terms of flexibility and, they can look so much nicer too. So, what do we need to consider when making our choice?
- Security – is someone going to try and steal it? Perhaps it needs to be screwed to the wall or bolted to the floor? Does the sanitiser liquid compartment have a lock? How secure does it need to be?
- What are the risks to people using your sanitiser station? Mount it too high and smaller people or small children run the risk of soap or alcohol in their eyes. If it’s free standing, can it fall over?
- What sanitising liquid are you going to use? A gel can get messy and clog the spout if not used regularly whereas a purer liquid tends to spill and splash more. Can alcohol sanitisers be used in schools safely or even legally?
- Damage to property – alcohol will remove most paints and dyes. Will the liquid drip on shoes or handbags?
- Slip Hazard – will any dripped gel or soap make the floor slippery and become hazardous? Is this an acceptable risk or do you need to put up signage and warn people?
- Is the unit touch free? This is very important as the last thing you want is dirty hands all pushing the same button or, with a free standing unit, having to use one hand to support the unit whilst the other presses the button.
You can see, it’s not quite as straight forwards as buying the first thing that you see on the internet. Do your research, only buy from reputable sources that you know you can trust. As a rule of thumb, when buying online, always make sure there is a phone number displayed on the website, knowledgeable people there to support you and help you make the right decisions.
Cardo D, Dennehy P , Halverson P , Fishman N, Kohn M, Murphy C, Whitley R, FIDSA, HAI Elimination White Paper Writing Group (2010) Moving toward elimination of healthcare-associated infections: a call to action. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 31:1101–1105
Shojania K, Duncan B, McDonald K, Wachter R, Markowitz A (2001) Making health care safer: a critical analysis of patient safety practices/technology assessment no. 43 (Prepared by the University of California at San Francisco stanford evidence-based practice center under contract no. 290-97-0013). AHRQ publica- tion no. 01-e058. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Bischoff W, Reynolds T, Sessler C, Edmond M, Wenzel R (2000) Handwashing compliance by health care workers: the impact of introducing an accessible, alcohol-based hand antiseptic. Arch Intern Med 160(7):1017
Thomas BW, Berg-Copas GM, Vasquez DG, Jackson BL, Wetta- Hall R (2009) Conspicuous vs customary location of hand hygiene agent dispensers on alcohol-based hand hygiene product usage in an intensive care unit. J Am Osteopath Assoc 109(5):263– 267