Course 138 Workplace Hygiene and Illness Prevention

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Hygiene and Housekeeping

CDC Handwashing Image
Click to enlarge.

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is a way of cleaning one’s hands that substantially reduces potential pathogens (harmful microorganisms) on the hands. Hand hygiene is considered a primary measure for reducing the risk of transmitting infections from person-to-person.

Follow these five steps every time:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. Hands could become re-contaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use. Therefore, clean running water should be used.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin so they can then be rinsed off hands.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Germs can be transferred easier to and from wet hands.
  6. Use a paper towel or tissue to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door.

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1. What is the recommended time limit to properly wash your hands?

a. 10 seconds
b. 20 seconds
c. 30 seconds
d. 45 seconds

Next Section

Hand Sanitizer

hand sanitizer
If soap and water is not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which contains at least 60% alcohol. Click to enlarge.

As mentioned earlier, washing hands with soap and water is the best defense against germs, but if it is not available to you, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which contains at least 60% alcohol.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, there are some things to be aware of. Here are some examples:

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs. Soap and water is more effective to remove certain kinds of germs, such as Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

How to Use Hand Sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

2. When using hand sanitizer, it should contain _____ alcohol.

a. 60%
b. 50%
c. 30%
d. 10%

Next Section


Cleaning and Disinfecting

cleaning with disenfectant
When cleaning and disinfecting, focus on surfaces that frequently contact people’s bare skin.

When cleaning and disinfecting, focus on surfaces that frequently contact people’s bare skin like desks, chairs, benches, faucets, light switches and remote controls. Also, make sure to clean any surfaces that could encounter uncovered wounds or cuts.

Here are some other important things to know when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces throughout your work area:

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces germs and should not be used for other purposes. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, you can use:
    • most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective
    • alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol
    • a bleach solution by mixing:
      • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water; or
      • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Important note: Do not mix bleach with other chemical, such as alcohol or vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction could release toxic gases that are harmful to people.

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces.

3. When disinfecting, alcohol solutions with at least _____ alcohol should be effective.

a. 30%
b. 50%
c. 70%
d. 10%

Next Section

Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Sickness

We will go more in-depth later in this course about prevention techniques, but here are a few ways to protect yourself and your co-workers and help stop the spread of germs while at work:

  • Find out about your employer’s plans if an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
  • Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.
  • If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.

4. Sarah felt fine when she came to work; however, she started feeling sick at work. When should she head home?

a. As soon as you get permission
b. As soon as possible
c. End of the day
d. Within 30 minutes

Check your Work

Click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and recheck your answers.


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