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Hand Sanitizer Signs: Frequently Asked Questions and Usage Guidelines

Q. Do hand sanitizers actually work?

A.

In most cases, they do and are, therefore, recommended by the CDC when washing hands is not an option. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content offer effective protection against various germs and quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in many situations. These sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes provided these are correctly used. It is important to use a substantial enough amount and not wipe off the sanitizer before it has dried. That being said, sanitizers should be viewed as an alternative when washing hands with soap and water is not possible.

Q. Why is it recommended that hand rubs should contain at least 60% alcohol?

A.

According to CDC, sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% work better at killing germs than those with a lower/zero alcohol concentration. Sanitizers with lower alcohol levels may not be very effective against many types of germs. They may curb some germ growth but not eliminate them. You may refer to this FDA resource to get answers to some common questions about hand sanitizers.

Q. When should hand sanitizers be used?

A.

Hand sanitizers should be used as a substitute when washing hands with soap and water may not be possible. These provide good enough protection and are portable to be used on the go. However, you should wash your hands when they are soiled or visibly dirty, when you plan to eat and after eating, and before and after using a washroom. Additionally, hand rubs may not be very effective against harmful chemicals like pesticides, and one should opt for soap and water after exposure to these. 

This OSHA resource throws more light on when to use sanitizers. It includes CDC’s hand hygiene recommendations as well. 

Q. How should hand sanitizers be used?

A.

As per CDC, when using a hand sanitizer, you should ensure to take enough amount and rub it all over your hands, including the palms, fingers, and the area between fingers. You should not rinse or wipe off the sanitizer but rub it until it dries. You should also keep the alcohol-based sanitizer out of your eyes and mouth. Ensure there’s adequate adult supervision when children are using sanitizers.

Please refer to this CDC resource for information about sanitizer usage dos and don’ts.

Q. Is it mandatory for employers to provide hand sanitizers to employees?

A.

According to OSHA regulation on Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, 29 CFR 1910.1030, employers are required to provide readily accessible handwashing facilities. Antiseptic towelettes/antiseptic hand cleaner with clean cloth/paper towels when providing handwashing facilities may not be feasible. Other than this, the OSHA COVID-19 specific guidelines also recommend that employers make appropriate provisions for soap and water and/or alcohol-based hand rubs that contain at least 60% alcohol. 

Other OSHA standards specific to general industry, construction, and the like may also prescribe certain requirements related to hand hygiene. Please check the standards relevant to your situation for more accurate information. 

Q. Where should hand sanitizing stations be placed in workplaces?

A.

Hand sanitizing stations should be strategically placed to ensure ready accessibility at the most crucial touchpoints. These include entrances and exits, restrooms, cafeterias and break rooms, meeting rooms, receptions, elevator areas, transaction counters, and similar places. These stations should be properly marked with the help of signs and labels to facilitate easy identifiability. Additionally, employee desks should also be equipped with alcohol-based hand rubs for better safety. 

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