Personal hygiene is the basic concept of cleaning, grooming, and caring for our bodies. While it is an important part of our daily lives at home, personal hygiene isn’t just about combed shiny hair and brushed teeth; it’s important for worker health and safety in the workplace. Workers who pay attention to personal hygiene can prevent the spread of germs and disease, reduce their exposures to chemicals and contaminants, and avoid developing skin allergies, skin conditions, and chemical sensitivities.
The first principle of good hygiene is to avoid an exposure by forming a barrier over the skin with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, coveralls, and boots. It is important to check the PPE often for excessive contamination, wear, tears, cuts, or pinholes. Workers should clean, decontaminate, or replace protective equipment frequently to make sure it doesn’t collect or absorb irritants. If protective equipment becomes too soiled during the job, the worker should stop and replace it with clean equipment.
Basic hand washing and skin care can prevent work exposures and disease. Good washing and scrubbing with water and soap helps to remove germs, contaminants, and chemicals. It can also prevent exposure by ingestion and cross-contamination of the surfaces and objects we touch.
Workers should periodically wash their hands during the day. In some jobs, regular hand washing is required by law. Hand washing is important before and after using the restroom and before or after certain activities. Workers should wash their hands before, during, and after preparing food and before they take breaks at work to eat, drink, or smoke. To control the spread of germs that can cause the flu or common cold, workers should wash their hands whenever they cough, sneeze, or blow their noses, and whenever they are around someone that is sick.
Hand washing involves more than a quick rinse under a faucet. To wash hands properly, workers should first wet them under the faucet and then use liquid or bar soap. Hands should be held out of the water until all skin surfaces are scrubbed and lathered for at least twenty seconds. Workers can then rinse with clean water and dry their hands with a disposable towel. To wash hands with a hand sanitizer, workers should apply the appropriate amount of sanitizer into the palm of the hand, and then rub hands together until they are dry, being careful to cover all surfaces of the hands. For some job activities, hand sanitizers are not an acceptable means of hand cleaning. Showering and face-washing after work is also a good idea. Proper personal hygiene and hand protection can help keep workers productive and on the job. Be safely clean with good hygiene.