Whether it is May, June or July, evidentially we will leave our houses and begin the process of getting back to life. Society will be fundamentally changed, and some aspects of quarantine-life will become part of everyday life. We all know that hand washing is vital in stopping the spread of COVID and The World Health Organization (WHO) has guidelines on hand hygiene. They constantly communicate that the virus can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets or contact – transmission of the virus can occur when contaminated hands touch the inside of the mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus can also spread from one surface to another by contaminated hands, which facilitates indirect contact transmission.
Worldwide, nations are trying to figure out the complex logistics of how – and when – to allow people to come out of quarantine without sparking a new COVID wave. Clearly, hygiene will be a part of any successful strategy and that means more than just allowing citizens to wash their hands when in a bathroom. Hand sanitizing and public hand washing stations will be a big part of efforts around the globe. In Singapore, public hand washing stations are already a part of the urban landscape and we’ll see them outside of every restaurant or other places where people gather.
It will be important for employers to follow the WHO recommendations to ensure the wellbeing of employees and everyone in society. Combating the spread of coronavirus takes more than a village, it takes a nation. As we start thinking about getting out of quarantine and back to work, the following recommendations from Boston University’s Dr. David Hamer on how to institute widespread hygiene can be one important element in figuring out the back to work puzzle:
Access to Public Hand Hygiene Stations
It is essential that employers provide their employees, as well as any public customers who access their facilities and buildings, with hand hygiene stations. These stations should include soap and water and/or hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol. Also included should be disposable paper towels and a trash receptacle.
Required Use of Station
The use of these station should be required for employees and the general public for when they enter and leave the building. This is for their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others who may come in close contact with them or objects they touched.
Stations Should Be Regularly Maintained
Employers, public health officials or delegated building managers must ensure that hand hygiene stations are properly maintained – cleaned and refilled with essential items – water, soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels and trash receptacle.
Hand Hygiene Training
Businesses should establish hand hygiene policies and training for employees to ensure everyone is aware of best practices to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19. For example, it is essential that everyone is made aware that washing your hands for no less than 20-30 seconds with soap and water will help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Communicate to Employees and Customers
With the installation of hand hygiene stations, employers must also broadly communicate about the stations and the importance of using them. Since the use of Zoom and other video conferencing services have become so widespread during the pandemic, large group video calls in advance of returning to work could be especially effective.
At the same time, businesses must communicate to customers that use of the hand hygiene stations is required before entering and when leaving a building. This communication can be accomplished through signage or an external email alert, or even a “greeter” at the entrance of the building.
And let’s not forget social media, both companies and individuals alike need to communicate that hand sanitizing is mandatory and for good reason.
Additional Information on Responding to COVID-19:
For additional information, recommendations or questions on staying safe amidst COVID-19, please visit Xenophon Strategies’ Frequently Asked Questions below.
Getting Back to Work is an ongoing series on health and safety regarding COVID-19 from Xenophon Strategies, in partnership with Dr. David Hamer, a professor at the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine with more than 30 years of experience in epidemiological diseases. Through the partnership Xenophon is working with Dr. Hamer to provide science-based recommendations and guidance on how employers, employees, and families should best respond to and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.