Environmental Health & Safety

Handwashing and sickness

The risk of infection can be greatly reduced by proper handwashing and disinfection of surfaces using disinfecting products. 

As previously stated, the easiest way to prevent many kinds of illness is proper handwashing.  The CDC recommends the following procedure be used for handwashing.

  1. Hands should be washed using soap and warm, running water
  2. Hands should be rubbed vigorously during washing for at least 20 seconds with special attention paid to the backs of the hands, wrists, between the fingers and under the fingernails
  3. Hands should be rinse well while leaving the water running
  4. With the water running, hands should be dried with a single-use towel
  5. Turn off the water using a paper towel, covering washed hands to prevent re-contamination.

When exiting the restroom, the door should be opened using a paper towel as the doorknob may be contaminated.  If proper handwashing is unavailable, an hand sanitizer may be used.  The best option is an alcohol based solution, containing at least 70% alcohol, but solutions containing alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride or Clorhexidine both have been shown to be effective.

Hands should be washed after using restrooms, touching public surfaces, coughing, and before eating.  When coughing, one should not cough into his or her hands, but instead into the shoulder to prevent spread of illness.

Staying home when ill is important as rest can decrease recovery time.  It also prevents spread of infection to others.

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