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Can improving safety actually make things worse? Can good hand washing training actually be bad?

In my previous blogs I discussed Volvos, 4 wheel drives and temperature loggers. Now the question is turned to hand washing.

Let me say up front that this blog is based on the fact that hand washing decreases the spread of disease. I’m not disputing that. What I am asking is, “if a person feels safe because they have washed their hands, then what bad consequences can occur?” The question relates to the feeling of safety, not the actual washing of hands.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Ineffective hand washing means that you are still a high risk, but you now handle things assuming you are safe. That makes you a higher risk. So make sure that your hand washing training is actually effective. Glitterbug is ideal for hand washing training because it shows the person where they have missed.
  2. Objects like rings can be almost impossible to clean. So once again the risk remains but the assumption is that it has been removed.
  3. Contamination can happen very quickly. Within the medical profession they are highlighting the “5 moments of hand hygiene” because clean hands don’t last forever.
  4. Hands aren’t the only source of germs. One decent sneeze or cough can be much more effective in spreading germs. See my blog on the world’s dumbest hand washing sign.
  5. There are some things that just don’t get washed away.
  6. Beware the soap bar.

Though I would have to say my biggest issue is actually with gloves. How many times have you been to a café or delicatessen and see the staff handling food, money and everything else while wearing a pair of gloves. To make it worse, the gloves are even visibly dirty from being worn for a couple of hours. Here we have the perception of hygiene despite the fact that common sense (and smear marks) are just screaming out “who do you think you are kidding?”.

By my online research today, I would have to say that the biggest issue out there is with people not washing their hands. In fact, I really didn’t find much out there are all about the risk of perceived safety. Anyone who has an issue with hand washing tends to focus on the medical issues (dry skin etc).

I’m just saying, just because you think they are clean doesn’t mean you can treat them like they are.