Today begins National Handwashing Awareness Week and members of the jan/san industry are advised to work with customers and building occupants to promote the benefits of proper hand hygiene. To help, ITW Dymon has outlined tips for cleaners to follow.

"By knowing how to properly wash hands, people can ensure they maintain the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease," said Director of Sales and Marketing Rich Bucher.

According to a report from the Commonwealth Fund, an estimated 55 million U.S. workers annually experience reduced productivity due to illness or the inability to concentrate on the job due to a family member's illness. The study concluded that these workers were performing at half capacity, equalling a $260 billion economic value annually.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says proper handwashing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs that cause infection and illness. Eighty percent of diseases are spread by touch. These germs can be transmitted to others through contact with hands, surfaces, uncooked meat and vegetables when touched by unclean hands.

To contain the spread of germs, hands should be washed:
• After using the restroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after pets or handling money
• Before and after eating
• After coughing or sneezing
• After touching eyes, nose, mouth, ears or hair

To prevent epidemics or pandemics through handwashing, remember to:
• Wet hands with warm water (not hot) and use antiseptic soap
• Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas including under the fingernails
• Rub for a minimum of 15-20 seconds
• Rinse thoroughly
• Dry hands on a clean towel
• Turn faucet off with towel, not hands, to prevent recontamination

When a sink, soap and water are not readily available, be sure to protect yourself using hand sanitizer.

Employees can help maintain a healthy and productive work environment by frequently washing hands and keeping workplace surfaces clean. Employers are also encouraged to promote handwashing, especially during cold and flu seasons, to maintain a healthy workforce and further ensure against lost productivity.