Hand washing and staying healthy


Hand washing is about more than just your health; it's about your family's health. Washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Poor hand hygiene means that what happens at work doesn't always stay at work.

Learn more in WorkSafeBC's video Don't Take Your Work Home with You.

Illnesses can be spread through viruses, bacteria or other infectious agents. These germs can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Other people can then catch the illness by inhaling infected droplets or touching a surface contaminated by them (such as a desk, doorknob or keyboard) and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Infection probability, from brief exposure, is low. Exposure probability increases the longer you are exposed to an infected person.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of infection. Correct hand washing helps prevent the transfer of infectious material from the hands to other parts of the body such as the eyes, nose and mouth.

When washing hands use soap and warm running water, and wash for 20 to 30 seconds (The water does not have to be hot to do the job.)

If water is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as long as the hands are not visibly soiled.

WorkSafeBC shares the following hand washing techniques in ther publication Controlling Exposure: Protecting Workers from Infectious Disease.

  1. Press hands palm to palm
  2. Press each palm over back of opposing hand
  3. Interlace fingers palm to palm
  4. Interlock fingers
  5. Rotate each thumb to palm
  6. Rotate fingertips in palm

And remember, if you are sick, stay home until you feel better.

By Richard Doyle, RRU Environmental Safety Office on behalf of your Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC)