Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Gina Radford said last week that the majority of people do not wash their hands for long enough and many do not use soap. She warns that this is causing an increase in common infections as well as contributing to problem of antibiotic resistance and recommends that people wash their hands with soap and water for the length of one verse of the National Anthem or two renditions of Happy Birthday.
Dr Martin Strudley is Medical Director for the ELAS Group. He says: “The importance of proper hand washing cannot be overstated. In a healthcare setting it is literally a matter of life or death. Cross infection in hospitals is very high and is a common cause of hospital acquired infection.
“In the food manufacturing industry where contamination of a batch of product can potentially affect thousands, food manufacturers have stringent rules in place to avoid such a catastrophe. As a GP I recall having to suspend a waiter from work who was suffering from salmonella gastroenteritis, which is a common cause of food poisoning in the restaurant world
“When it comes to Occupational Health, washing hands is important for other reasons. In industries where employees are exposed to lead dust, this substance can accumulate under the fingernails. Unless the individual washes their hands carefully then this can be easily ingested, not only by themselves but also their children who are much more susceptible to the effects of lead contamination.”