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It has come to my attention, that quite a lot of people in my office don't wash their hands after using the restrooms. I'd estimate approximately 30% of people have this habit.

Apart for being utterly disgusting, this is a potentially serious health risk for all other employees, who have to share the same facilities as these people. Poor hand hygiene helps to spread serious illnesses like gastroenteritis, and even hepatitis.

I don't know specifically who these people are. I have just very often heard, when I'm in one of the cubicles, others come in, use the toilets, and walk straight out without going anywhere near the hand washing facilities.

This is really starting to make me very uncomfortable at work. It just seems very unfair that I have to use the same shared facilities as people who I know haven't washed their hands after wiping their backsides.

How do I communicate this to others in the company?

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    The answer might depend of the country. Can you edit to include a country tag? – Ælis Aug 28 '18 at 4:10
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    @Noon I'm not exactly sure why this makes a difference. Good hygiene is a universal concept. I'm in a western country, and work at a high-tech company, where the vast majority of people are university educated, and should know better. – user1751825 Aug 28 '18 at 4:15
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    Related question – Flo Aug 28 '18 at 5:27
  • Have you already tried ways to communicate your concerns? If you haven't tried anything yet, what have you considered, but refrained from doing so far? What part of efficiently communicating this are you struggling with? – Tinkeringbell Aug 28 '18 at 10:36
  • @Andrew My end goal is mostly to have people not spreading particles of fecal matter around the office, even if the person isn't sick. – user1751825 Aug 28 '18 at 19:55
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I think your best shot is to wait for a "special occasion" when the risk of getting a disease because people don't wash their hands are at the highest (like when there is the flu running around).

First, choose a sign you would like to be put in the toilet. Signs are good, they are impersonal and a constant reminder. People won't get defensive over a sign but they might over a human. And if they feel accused, they probably won't see your point (that not washing your hands is dangerous).

When you choose the sign, be careful to choose one who explains why it is important to wash your hands. People don't neglect to wash their hands because they don't care, they think it is a stupid and useless rule which is only there to waste their time. I used to think that too. But if you put a sign that explains why washing their hands is important, they might change their mind.

So, for the sign, I will suggest something like that: Stop the spread of the flu, wash your hands.

When you have your sign, go to HR, explain that there is a flu running around and that you are concerned that some people forget to wash their hands (this is important, you don't want to say that people do it in purpose, your HR might be one of the people who don't wash their hands) and are spreading the disease.

If HR answer with a categorical no, drop it. You don't want to be on bad terms with HR.

If HR agrees with you, then you can offer to take care of it. This way, you will be sure that the sign will be put in place within a short period of time.

If HR agrees and says they will take care of it but don't, you can try a slight followup. But don't be too insistent, you don't want to be on bad terms with HR.


A completely different approach would be to ask no one for anything and just put the sign in place (without anyone knowing that it's your doing). But be preprared for it to be removed (and maybe an angry sign/email from HR asking people to not put signs in the toilet).

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I was part of the First Responders team at my place of employment which included a First Aid and CPR training day every year. My recent training incorporated hygiene practices, obvious since we would potentially be dealing with open wounds and we don't want to be a source of infection. To illustrate the teacher had us apply a special gel (I think it was this stuff found here*) and wash our hands with soap. She then held a black light over our hands and showed spots we missed.

People who usually skip washing or only use water had a lot of glowing hands despite making an extra effort this time. My friend, who claims to wash his hands 10+ times a day, had almost no glow (and won a prize for it). Since this was right before flu season my HR rep wanted to get the kit and try to drive the point home.

If it's within the budget and you or your boss have the authority, incorporating a kit like this can help drive the point across more so than posted signs and typical training sessions.

(As an aside: One point the teacher made was that hand lotion is a must especially if one uses hand sanitizer a lot because bacteria likes to clings to dry patches of skin and sanitizer dries out our skin. This was made evident when the ladies in the class had less glowing skin versus the men and that was the commonality: lotion usage.)


*Obligatory disclaimer that I am not affiliated with Glo Germ

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