Handwashing with SHEilds Free Lesson

Restroom Cleanliness

Reducing the Spread of Germs

There are few things that really frustrate me, but one is the lack of restroom cleanliness. I am fortunate enough to work in an environment where health is a primary focus, however when using public restrooms I cannot think of anything that annoys me more than someone who doesn’t wash their hands.

There have been a number of times I have been washing my hands, interlocking my fingers and letting the soap lather as one person who has not only polluted the air, walks out of a nearby cubicle and straight out of the door. What is just as bad is when someone simply splashes their hands under running water before exiting.

I did the usual before writing this blog and looked up some statistics, I will admit that after my observations, they are better than I expected but still incredibly worrying. A study in 2013 by the Journal of Environmental Health stated that 10% of people skip the sink, 33% of people don’t use soap and as for the remainder, most didn’t wash for long enough. The concerning part is that this is one of the key ways we can prevent others from contracting illnesses.

Whilst consideration for strangers may not always be in the forefront of someone’s mind, reducing the spread of germs could in theory prevent that same bug coming back around to yourself in the future.

A Free Lesson in Hygiene

Unfortunately this said free lesson in hygiene isn’t a free NEBOSH qualification but it serves a meaningful lesson. Health and Safety as a career generally focuses on protecting a workforce or public environment, but the spread of disease can go much further afield on a much greater scale with a lack of restroom cleanliness being a key contributor.

Most people are under the belief that a quick rinse with soap lasting 10 seconds is sufficient for washing your hands, the reality is that this is not long enough. According to the centres for disease control and prevention you should sing the song happy birthday twice during every cleanse. Now it’s your own preference should you wish to sing it out loud but for me in my head is fine. You can even get inventive with the words; “Wash my hands of number one and two, this is how you prevent flu… etc.” Any lyrics will suffice.

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Pushing Open Doors

The problem I have is that many doors have handles and trying to open doors with the back of my hand isn’t always socially acceptable. When pushing open doors or pulling cords to turn on lights, I try to make contact wherever I expect the fewest people have touched. Being quite tall I can usually pull the top of a cord and I regularly push doors towards the middle instead of the metal plate often seen on push doors. I saw once the most genius invention on a pull door.

Hygienic Door Handle

Image credit www.morehandles.co.uk

This hygienic door handle allows you to pull open a door with your wrist. I saw this in a run-down local pub once and it is probably the last place I expected to see such a thing. I would love to see these in every water closet, but in all of my travels I have only ever seen this once.

The problem I have is that after spending the time to clean my hands, touching the door handle after people who don’t clean, renders much of my sanitising routine useless.

Hand-Washing Rules

I am rarely ill and I think a lot of young adults that benefit from strong immune systems don’t understand the greater effect it can have on younger people. A scary statistic is that 1.8 million children under 5 die each year from diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia; this could be greatly reduced with a little restroom consideration.

A lot of illnesses resulting from not washing hands can be mild and people end up being prescribed antibiotics, however many of these germs are immune to their effects and as a result of taking the medication, the bacteria’s antibiotic resistance increases, making antibiotics even less effective in the future – for more information on this topic you can read our blog on antibiotic awareness.

Whilst I don’t think we can ask anyone we see disregarding these hand-washing rules, it would be great to question the reasons behind the lack of hand washing. If you have a skin condition then I understand that it can be painful and irritating however, there are many hand wash brands for sensitive skin. A small container to carry a little in is definitely worth considering if this applies to you.


Are there any other ways cleanliness could be tackled or simple yet genius inventions you have seen that could assist with preventing the spread of disease? Let us know in the comments below.

Stephen Conlan

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