The reasons for non-compliance to hand hygiene habits – and how to tackle them in your business

We list the top reasons for hand hygiene non-compliance in your business and what you can do to overcome them.

During the pandemic’s peak, hand hygiene was pushed as one of the best precautions people could take to protect themselves. Even before coronavirus, hand hygiene compliance was encouraged across healthcare settings to minimise infection – but there are plenty of benefits that can be reaped in every kind of business.

However, with coronavirus restrictions easing back and a false sense of security seeping in across the world, hand hygiene compliance rates have reportedly fallen.

Person washing hands

While attitudes may be lax, hand hygiene still matters. COVID-19 cases continue to exist and are even rising in the UK, leading to fears of further lockdowns. Seasonal illnesses, like cold and flu, are also increasing this year, bringing potential disruption to workplaces through unexpected sick leave.

Hand hygiene has the power to limit the risk of infection to the benefit of your staff and customers. This means you must encourage your team to continue to wash their hands appropriately.

Of course, it may be hard to ensure compliance across your workforce with pre-pandemic habits that have crept back in. Below, we have listed the main reasons for non-compliance and what you can do to tackle them in your business.

  1. A lack of understanding
  2. A lack of time
  3. Limited access to facilities
  4. Skin irritation
  5. Forgetfulness

The problem: a lack of understanding

Although most of us should know that we need to wash our hands, many people simply don’t know the implications of poor hand hygiene. Around 80% of infections are spread by hands, including colds, flu and other respiratory illnesses. It’s also a leading cause of food poisoning, such as salmonella.

By maintaining better hygiene, we can therefore protect our health and those around us. In a workplace setting, this culminates as reduced sick leave and improved productivity. Data has shown that those trained in good hand hygiene take 20% fewer sick days.

Even those who wash their hands regularly may not know the appropriate technique, leading to missed germs and a continued risk of infection.

The solution

You must highlight the risks of poor hand hygiene to your workforce. This is particularly integral in settings like close contact services, food businesses or healthcare where non-compliance can have dramatic consequences for your customers.

Use signage and communications to alert workers to the implications, including issues stemming from incorrect habits. This could include posters in washrooms that carefully demonstrate the process to be followed, such as this free version from the government.

It may also be worth conducting hand hygiene training or even regular refreshers, so people know exactly what they need to do and when.

The problem: a lack of time

At work, people are often in a rush. It’s easy for what should be a 20-second hand wash to end up as a 5-second job. However, this isn’t effective enough and will likely leave germs lingering. As part of your compliance, you need to ensure that staff members set aside an appropriate amount of time.

The solution

Part of your communication and training to staff should be to demonstrate the time required for hand hygiene. This should encourage them to take the necessary time out of their day to do the job correctly.

Busy businessman multi-tasking

If you continue to have complaints about time, it may be worth considering other solutions that enable hygiene without requiring 20-second hand washes. The most apparent option is utilising hand sanitiser, which can effectively kill germs in a shorter space of time.

The problem: access to facilities

In order to facilitate excellent hand hygiene, you need to ensure your employees have access to the resources they need. If you do not have the appropriate facilities, such as sufficient washbasins in bathrooms for your workforce, it’s likely to lower compliance rates.

The solution

Firstly, you need to provide adequate facilities for your workers. The amount you need will vary depending on how many you employ, so it’s vital to get the ratio right. Alongside basins, you will also need to provide effective soap and warm water as per recommended guidelines.

Once again, hand sanitiser can provide an alternative solution here, offering an inexpensive way to introduce more resources for handwashing into your workplace. This could include wall-mounted units at entry points to be used by staff and visitors.

If you have employees who work outside of the office, such as drivers, you will need to identify portable solutions, such as personal sanitisers. The Orbel hand sanitiser, for example, has a wearable design, making it easy to carry your sanitiser wherever. This means that workers can disinfect their hands on the go or when going to the bathroom is inconvenient.

The problem: skin irritation

Another common complaint against maintaining good hand hygiene habits is skin irritation. While this is more complicated to solve, it’s important to work with any staff affected by issues to find the balance between hygiene and comfort.

The solution

Communicate with any employees who report skin issues to find a solution. Typically, this might include identifying soap and sanitiser products that suit sensitive skin or encouraging staff members to bring their own products from home. It’s also advised that sufferers moisturise after washing to protect their skin.

Hand with dry skin

Another helpful step may be to identify products that dispense only minimal amounts of soap or sanitiser while still efficiently killing germs. This will control the amount dispersed per use, helping to avoid excess that might cause unnecessary skin issues while also lowering costs.

The problem: forgetfulness

During the workday, people can get distracted. This means certain tasks, like frequently washing or sanitising hands, can fall by the wayside. While occasionally forgetting hand hygiene protocol may have little impact, this can amount to an environment of non-compliance.

The solution

Many of the tips we have already given here, such as finding quick and easy solutions and educating your staff through signage, should help make hand hygiene precautions easier to adhere to and refresh memories.

However, it’s also possible to find solutions that actively create habits and ingrain them into your employees. The Orbel hand sanitiser utilises innovative technology that reinforces neural pathways through stimulation from rollerballs and cooling gel. Over time, this adapts behaviour, so the user remembers to sanitise through the day as second nature. This will drive your compliance rates.

What are the benefits of better hand hygiene compliance?

Poor hand hygiene compromises the safety of your staff, customers and visitors. By implementing an effective strategy that encourages compliance, you will reduce the risk and protect your workforce. You can also limit the transmission of infection, including COVID-19, leading to reduced sick leave and happier colleagues.

Although restrictions have eased in the UK, many people still feel anxious about returning to public places, including businesses and offices. By maintaining good hygiene, in conjunction with your other precautions, you can reassure customers and staff alike that your business is a safe place to be.

Happy, smiling workforce

This will help you focus on your post-pandemic recovery and fuel productivity while fulfilling your duty as a responsible employer.

If you are looking for an effective hand sanitiser to complement your hand hygiene strategy and improve compliance, look no further than Orbel. With habit-forming technology, a wearable design and superior bacteria-killing power, it is an excellent solution for workers of all kinds – including those on the move or with limited time.

Get in touch today to find out more.