Have you ever thought about how much work your hands actually do during the day, what they touch or even what they pick up along the way?
"Cover your mouth when you cough"! "Wash your hands before you eat"! No one would argue that hand hygiene is important. Keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs, such as norovirus onto others. The glove is a protective barrier between pathogens on the hands of glove wearers and the patient. But is a medical grade disposable glove enough?
Medical safety demands a dual approach that includes both proper hand hygiene and correct disposable glove use. Hand Hygiene plays one of the most important roles in Infection Prevention. Infection Prevention and Control measures aim to ensure the protection of those who might be vulnerable to acquiring an infection both in the general community and while receiving care due to health problems, in a range of settings.1
Eagle Protect has partnered with the “Guru of Hand Hygiene,” Barry Michaels, who brings over 50 years’ experience in the field of infectious disease investigation to push the research of disposable gloves farther than anyone ever has. What he has discovered is:
To oversimplify a complex topic, hand hygiene is essential because of the environment created within the disposable glove. Hands contain over 400 sweat glands per square centimetre. The nail region, the most difficult to get pristinely clean, contains the richest microbial flora. Any medical grade glove, whether it is nitrile or latex, will create an environment where oxygen levels decrease and skin maceration creates high microbial counts. Read Barry’s article from the Deb Group’s Hand Hygiene, Infection Prevention Blog, Protective Gloves Get Used and Abused, for a detailed breakdown.
As explained by Barry Michaels in the Glove Hazard Analysis & Mitigation Strategies Research Study, the real problem occurs when, due to poor skin health and poor hand hygiene, organisms become resident on the hands. When this occurs, combined with a glove puncture what has been described as a “liquid bridge” of microbial contamination can flow to contact surfaces (Cole & Bernard 1964, Fox 1971). Studies have shown that up to 18,000 Staphylococci can pass through a single glove hole during a 20-minute period, even though the hands had been scrubbed for 10 minutes prior to gloving (Guzewich & Ross 1999).
The hazards outlined above are just a few of the reasons why hand hygiene plays an essential role in infection prevention. The microbe promoting environment created inside gloves is inevitable, but there are ways to prevent the spread of disease. A combination of these interventions can be effective in the prevention of the transmission of viruses and bacteria in patients.
Since a lot of infections are spread by touch, washing your hands & then using an alcohol-based hand rub before touching another person is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of these infections. For procedures, PPE equipment should be worn once the following Hand Hygiene steps have been completed.
Wash your hands with a liquid soap at the following times:
Did you know that hand washing alone can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds)? 3 4
When your hands are visibly and clinically clean use an Anti-Bacterial Hand Rub (ABHR) at the following times:
Apply the volume of ABHR specified by the manufacturer. Leave your hands to dry naturally; do not dry them with linen or paper towels.
Follow the measures below to prevent transmission of infection. Damaged skin harbours higher numbers of micro-organisms than intact skin, consequently the risk of skin infection and transmission of infection to others increases:
Wear appropriate PPE for any procedure or activity associated with a risk of contamination. When gloves are required for procedures, they should:
By following all these steps above you will help prevent the spread of infection. Do your bit to control what you spread via your hands.
Choose only disposable gloves that are medical grade, with an AQL 2.5 or less (2.5 glove failures per 100 gloves). Read more about AQL and how it affects food safety here.
Contact our food safety experts to answer all your questions about improving your hand hygiene procedures through the correct use of disposable gloves and clothing. Eagle supplies medical grade disposable gloves and clothing to protect your business, your staff and your customers.