Proper and thorough hand washing is just one step of the hand hygiene process; the potential to be touching contaminated surfaces after hands are washed is also of concern.

For this reason, offering hand sanitizers after users have left the restroom is often recommended and commonly found. The facilities that do provide hand sanitizer are creating awareness and sending the message they care about the health of building occupants, say distributors.

Although sanitizer is far more available now than in years past, not all facility executives understand its importance and timeliness. According to Josephs, some custodial managers don’t prioritize stocking up on hand sanitizer until it’s too late and a bad cold or flu is making the rounds in a facility.

“During the H1N1 health scare, hand sanitizer sales exploded. Everyone in the industry thought it would be the new standard, that people had learned that using hand sanitizer can really reduce the risk of cross-contamination and prevent the spread of germs,” he says. “But within a year, sales were back to pre-H1N1 levels. Custodial managers are still being reactionary with sanitizers.”

Cleaning departments are encouraged to provide hand sanitizer in strategic areas, such as just inside the entrance, outside of elevator doors, outside of the restroom and outside of the break room or cafeteria. Attractive hand sanitizer stands for class-A office buildings and higher-end facilities should help to encourage use.

Foam hand sanitizer dispensers may also be preferable to liquid or gel dispensers in some facilities, especially those with hard floor surfaces that may be damaged by errant gel sanitizer that drips or leaks off of hands, Farmer says.

“Because of an added labor cost to repair floors, it’s a cost-savings to use foam hand sanitizer in certain situations,” Farmer says.

Distributors agree that there are a number of factors to consider as custodial managers outline soap and sanitizer purchases. These products will impact hand washing and the facilities overall infection control program. 

LISA RIDGELY is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee. She is the former Deputy Editor of Contracting Profits magazine, a sister publication to Facility Cleaning Decisions.

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