In last month’s article I touched on the importance of washing your hands in the prevention of the spread of germs. In this month’s article I am going to go into more detail about hand washing.
The reason I decided to spend some time on this topic is that I have noticed that as a result of your jobs, many truckers have dirty hands.
I have noticed on many occasion truck drivers here in the restaurant handling their food with hands that have not been sufficiently washed.
In this article I will talk about when and how you should wash your hands, as well as common mistakes.
Why should you wash your hands? The answer to this question is simple.
If done correctly, hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. You can spread certain germs casually by touching another person or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
Good hand washing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults.
Now that we know why we should wash our hands, let us talk about when you should wash them. Situations in which you should wash your hands include:
* When hands are visibly soiled or dirty;
* After using the washroom or changing diapers;
* After blowing your nose or sneezing in your hands;
* Before and after eating, handling food, drinking or smoking;
* After touching raw meat, poultry or fish;
* After handling garbage;
* Visiting or caring for sick people;
* Handling pets, animals or animal waste.
The most important aspect of hand washing is using proper technique. There is more to hand washing than you think. Contrary to popular belief, washing your hands with regular soap and water does not actually kill the germs. Rather they create a slippery surface that allows the germs to slip off. Here are six simple steps to proper hand washing technique:
1. Wet your hands with warm running water;
2. Add soap, and then rub your hands together, making a soapy lather. Do this away from the running water for at least 15 seconds, being careful not to wash the lather away. Be sure to wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails;
3. Rinse your hands well under warm running water;
4. Wipe and dry hands well with paper towel;
5. Turn off water using paper towel;
6. Open washroom door with paper towel.
Another question I am frequently asked is “What type of soap should I use?” Well, any plain soap will do. However, bar soap should be kept in a self draining holder that is cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. Liquid soap containers should be used until empty and then disposed of. If you are using a reusable soap dispenser, they should be washed and dried before refilling.
A popular alternative to hand soap these days are alcohol rubs and gels. These are great alternatives when soap and water are not available.
When buying an alcohol gel make sure that it contains more than 60% alcohol.
One key point to keep in mind is that alcohol gels should only be used if no visible dirt is present on your hands. Hands that are heavily contaminated with dirt, blood or other organic materials should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
A drawback of waterless hand scrubs is that they have a drying effect on the skin and may have odours which are irritating to some users.
Lastly, I want to discuss the importance of keeping the cab of your truck as clean as possible as this will minimize the transmission of harmful germs onto your hands.
For example, try sanitizing your steering wheel, shifter and interior door handles with an alcohol gel every few days.
As you can see, keeping your hands clean is simple, but important.
Try to use some of the easy tips that were outlined in this article and I guarantee that you will decrease your chances of catching common illnesses.
Until next month, drive safely!
– Dr. Christopher Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 888-252-7327, or email TCC@transcanadachiropractic.com