Having access to proper hand washing stations is crucial for maintaining hygiene and preventing the spread of illness and disease. Hand washing removes germs, chemicals, and dirt from the hands. Washing hands at key times with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of pathogens. So what are the essential components of a good hand washing station?
Soap and Running Water
The most basic necessities for a hand washing station are soap and running water. The CDC recommends using clean running water, either warm or cold, to wet hands and apply soap. Bar or liquid soap should be used to create friction to lift dirt, grease and microbes from the skin. Antibacterial soaps are generally no more effective than regular soap and water. Simply scrubbing hands vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds removes germs effectively.
Soap helps lift microbes from skin so they can be rinsed off by water. Soap containers should be kept clean and regularly refilled to encourage frequent hand washing. Provide enough sinks so employees do not have to wait to use soap and water.
Paper Towels or Air Dryers
After washing hands, they need to be dried off. Wet hands can spread microbes more easily than dry hands. Paper towels or air dryers can be provided for drying hands. The friction from rubbing hands dry also helps remove germs.
Many studies have found paper towels more sanitary for drying hands than air dryers. Paper towels remove germs through friction while drying, whereas bacteria blown off the hands by air dryers can spread around the room. Provide enough paper towel dispensers near sinks so paper towels are always available
Waste Bins and Signage
Clearly marked waste bins should be placed near sinks to discard used paper towels. Signs near sinks can promote proper hand washing techniques and remind employees of key times to wash hands. Posters with visual guides for the 20 second scrub can help reinforce proper technique. Multilingual signage ensures hand washing information is accessible to all employees.
Accessibility and Placement
Hand washing stations should be easily accessible throughout the facility. Place stations at all entrances, exits, breakrooms, food prep areas, manufacturing areas, restrooms, and other high traffic areas. Make sure the sinks are accessible for wheelchair users if applicable. There should be no barriers to accessing a sink and soap when needed.
Frequently check hand washing stations and restock supplies as needed. Having inconsistent supplies like running out of soap or paper towels discourages employees from washing hands properly. Managers should monitor supplies and fill soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, and waste bins regularly. Automated soap and towel dispensers can be useful for monitoring usage and ensuring consistent stocking.
Running Water Temperature
Provide warm water for hand washing when possible for comfort, but cool water is also acceptable. Avoid setting tap water to extremely hot temperatures, as this can irritate skin. As long as soap is used, clean running water at any temperature between 60-100°F removes microbes and irritation effectively.
Hand Sanitizers as Backup
While hand sanitizers do not replace proper hand washing, they can be a useful backup when sinks are not accessible. Look for sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol. Set up sanitizer dispensers at doors, in vehicles, break rooms, manufacturing areas, and other areas without sinks. Use sanitizers to supplement hand washing, not replace it entirely.
Hand Care Products
Providing moisturizing hand cream or lotion near sinks can help maintain skin health. Frequent hand washing and sanitizer use can dry out skin, causing cracks and irritation. Supplying gentle hand cream improves hand hygiene by preventing damaged skin. It also encourages employees to wash hands properly without fear of skin drying.
Provide regular training to employees on proper hand hygiene. Demonstrate proper hand washing techniques directly at sinks. Refresh information on critical times to wash hands like before eating, after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling chemicals or raw foods. Ongoing training ensures employees make hand hygiene part of their regular routines.
Managers should do periodic walkthroughs to check hand washing stations. Make sure soap dispensers are stocked and operational. Look for empty paper towel dispensers and overflowing waste bins. Ensure sink basins are clean and supplies like hand cream are stocked. Regular compliance checks ensure hand hygiene standards are maintained.
Having properly equipped and maintained hand washing stations is essential for every facility. Providing warm water, soap, towels and sanitizers encourages employees to practice good hand hygiene. Proper hand washing facilities combined with training onhand washing technique helps ensure a healthier, more productive workplace. Maintaining accessible and fully stocked hand washing stations is a simple way every business can reduce illness and support public health.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hand Washing Stations
How many hand washing stations should a facility have?
The number of required hand washing stations depends on the size of the facility and number of employees. More sinks are needed for larger facilities. A good rule of thumb is to have one sink for every 15-20 employees. Hand washing sinks should also be located within 25 feet of toilet facilities.
Where should hand washing stations be located in a facility?
Refill soap, paper towels, and hand cream regularly. Empty trash cans when full. Clean sink basins, taps, counters and dispensers frequently. Check for leaks and clogs. Repair or replace damaged equipment like leaking sinks. Post reminder signage to wash hands.
Should businesses use antibacterial hand soaps?
Regular soap effectively removes germs – antibacterial ingredients provide no added benefit in consumer settings according to the FDA. Warm or cool running water combined with vigorous scrubbing with regular soap removes germs from hands effectively.
How long should employees wash their hands at sinks?
CDC guidelines say hands should be scrubbed with soap for at least 20 seconds to remove germs. Employees can time the 20 seconds by singing “Happy Birthday” twice through while lathering hands. Businesses can post signs with visual guides demonstrating the 20 second rule.
How often should employees wash their hands throughout the day?
The CDC recommends hand washing at key times including before and after work shifts, before eating food, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, after touching commonly used items, before and after handling raw foods, after touching garbage, after handling chemicals/contaminants, and whenever hands are visibly dirty.Hand washing is a simple routine that goes a long way in reducing illness. Providing proper hand washing facilities and encouraging frequent hand hygiene protects employee health. Maintaining clean and well-stocked hand washing stations enables businesses to prevent illness and support public health.