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Protecting Your Employees: 3 Components of a Healthy Hygiene Program

For many people, maintaining a healthy hand hygiene regime is easier said than done. If employees are exposing themselves to dangerous pathogens and not participating in proper hand hygiene, they are putting themselves and those around them, at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (i.e. the flu) costs U.S. companies approximately $10.4 billion and causes 31.4 million outpatient visits every year.1 Workers need to have access to effective hand care products to prevent exposure to illnesses. In this blog, Diversey explores three critical components of an effective hand hygiene programskin health, product efficacy and product deliveryand provides guidance on how to protect workers effectively.

1. Skin Health2024.03_Diversey_Blog Featured Image_Hand Hygiene Program

According to the CDC, conducting hand hygiene is the single most important step people can take to prevent illness and the spread of germs to others. An important step in maintaining healthy skin is proper and frequent handwashing. To contain the spread of germs and limit the spread of infections, workers should wash their hands:

  • After using the restroom or handling money
  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after food preparation
  • After coughing or sneezing

While frequent handwashing can protect workers from pathogens, it can create problems if the hand soap is too harsh, damaging the employee’s skin. Because handwashing removes oil from the skin, it can cause the skin to lose flexibility and crack, which creates more opportunities for transient pathogens to enter the skin. Hand soaps are often harsher on the skin than alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which generally contain moisturizers to protect the skin. Therefore, it is important for organizations to use hand soaps that contain moisturizers to replace water thus preventing dryness in the skin. To ensure a product is mild on the skin, organizations should select products that have been classified as mild through patch, Repeated Open Application Test (ROAT) and/or Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) testing.

2. Product Efficacy

Hand sanitizers should have a minimum of 70 percent alcohol to be considered effective against viruses, but alcohol level alone is no guarantee of efficacy. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t allow hand sanitizer manufacturers to make viral claims at all, including against norovirus. This makes it difficult for facilities to select an appropriate hand sanitizer.

Organizations should look for manufacturers that have passed the EN 14476 Quantitative Suspension Test for the Evaluation of Virucidal Activity of Chemical Disinfectants and Antiseptics in Human Medicine. The purpose of the test is to determine how effective chemical disinfectants or antiseptic products can fight against viruses on surfaces, hands, and medical instruments, according to EN test methods established by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).2

2. Product Delivery

Hand sanitizers are available as a gel, liquid and foam. Gel alcohol hand sanitizers contain thickening agents. While these thickeners help prevent dripping on the floor, they can also make it harder to spread the gel on the hands, may leave a sticky/tacky residue on hands and can interfere with the efficacy of the hand sanitizer. For these reasons, use of foam alcohol hand sanitizers has steadily increased. Foam sanitizers make it easier to spread the product across one’s hands, encouraging compliance.

Another consideration is pack size and format. Three main formats exist: a wall mounted dispenser, portable sizes such as countertop bottles with a pump on the top, and pocket sizes of 50 to 100 mL bottles.

It is important to choose a format and size that works best for your working environment and based on how employees use the product. Do you need more dispensers or different pack sizes to enable more frequent hand hygiene? Are dispensers placed in the optimal locations? Understanding where product is needed and how much sanitizer to provide is key to creating a safe and healthy working environment.

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Optimize Your Facility's Hygiene Plan with Diversey & OMNIA Partners

Investing the time and effort to establish an effective hand hygiene program is imperative to protecting an organization’s staff, customers, students and guests. When developing a hand hygiene program, companies should choose products that effectively kill bacteria but are gentle on the skin. Diversey offers quality cleaning, disinfecting and hand hygiene solutions on your preferred distributor's cooperative contract through OMNIA Partners. Public agencies, including K-12 schools, higher education institutions and state & local governments, can access national pricing on a competitively bid program to help purchasing teams secure hand care and hygiene products, optimizing facility cleanliness, safety and operational efficiencies. To browse Diversey's solutions and your favorite distributor's readily available contract documents, click the button below.


About Diversey & OMNIA Partners

Diversey's comprehensive sustainable range of products, services, and technologies combine industry-leading expertise and 100 years of experience with passion and the latest innovations to deliver the most effective, seamless, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions. In partnership with OMNIA Partners, we work alongside our distributors and customers to maximize impact and care for their assets, environments, and people. From full scale cleaning systems to simple high quality accessories, Diversey offers a wide range of cleaning tools to suit your needs. We offer solutions that save time and increase profits while creating greater value for participating public agencies of OMNIA Partners. Not a participating member? Become one today!

1. “Business Pulse - How CDC protects the health of your business,”