Sunday, October 16, 2011

Global Handwashing Day.

Yesterday was Global Handwashing Day a campaign to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. It takes place on October 15 of each year. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention. Hygiene is a big issue to a lot of people here in the UK.One in ten people have admitted avoiding public transport and trips to the cinema because of worries over cleanliness and general hygiene levels. And one in six mobile phones contains traces of E. coli because people are too lax about washing their hands, a study has found. More than nine in ten mobile phones are coated with some kind of bacteria, including E.coli, which was responsible for a number of deaths in Germany in June, and Staphylococcus aureus, one strain of which is better known as MRSA. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine took 390 samples of bacteria from the hands and phones of people in 12 cities across Britain. Although 95 per cent of participants claimed to wash their hands with soap whenever they could, some 16 per cent of hands and phones contained E.coli, which is transmitted in faeces and causes gut complaints. From the phone surface the bacteria can be transported back to our hands even after washing, to our ears and faces where they can infect any scratches or open wounds, or even to other people who borrow the handset. Some 31 per cent of hands and 25 per cent of phones harboured Staphylococcus aureus, which is naturally present in our skin but can become dangerous if transferred between people, particularly to those with weakened immune systems. Dr Ron Cutler, who led the study, released ahead of Global Handwashing Day on Saturday, said some devices were "crawling" with germs. In total 92 per cent of mobile phones and 82 per cent of hands tested had some traces of bacteria.

So what about hazards in the workplace? Many passengers travelling on my coach have their ticket on their mobile telephone. I have to handle a great many stranger's mobile phones every day to read their travel tickets. Does this put me at a greater risk than the general working population? I do not suffer from colds or stomach upsets, so either my immune system is super-charged by this constant contact with the passengers or my end of shift handwashing flushes the germs away. I think it is my enhanced immune system because I do not suffer from colds that make the passengers cough and splutter throughout their journey.

What about the hand hazards when I return to the farm? Every day I have to fill up with AdBlue and fuel oil. I also have to drain the toilet waste by pulling a lever that lets the waste gush down in a torrent onto an open drain. That is plenty of scope for infection! Since we transferred down the farm in May, the drivers have been using disposable latex gloves. These are the type you see on television worn by doctors, nurses, scene of crime officers and forensic scientists. They are great for filling up with diesel and dropping toilets. I did wonder how long my employer would stand the cost of these disposable latex gloves and opt for gloves that can be used more than once. The other day I went up to Andy and asked for some latex gloves. That day has come and he gave me 2 pairs of Polyco Matrix P Grip 403 - MAT size 9 Seamless Knitted Gloves with Polyurethane Palm Coating. I have worn these new gloves for 3 days now and they are the business. They are easy to put on and take off. Your hands do not sweat because of the textile back. The polyurethane palms keep the fuel oil from soiling your skin. I think these gloves are the right ones for the job and they should pass the test of time. Another problem with the disposable later gloves apart from the cost, was that quite often they would tear. They could rip as you put them on or tear as you opened the fuel cap. These Polyco gloves should not rip or tear as you get down dirty back at the farm. Thanks Andy!
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