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In light of Global Handwashing Day, which occurred on Oct. 15, 2012, perhaps it's time to keep an eye on whether or not our coworkers are respecting the sanitation of work sites as much as they should be.


According to research provided by Swedish bath tissue company SCA, nearly 60 percent of survey respondents confessed that they can remember seeing people leave a public bathroom without so much as running their hands underneath bathroom faucets. In addition, more than one-third said they've seen coworkers neglect to wash their hands after using the restroom at their place of business, and one-fifth reported noticing food-service workers declining to wash their hands after a trip to the loo. The problem, these findings show, was much more consist among men than women.


"The average human hand has millions of bacteria, many good, but also sometimes some that can harm health. In addition, we can also carry viruses from touching surfaces that are contaminated," said Allison Aiello, a University of Michigan associate professor of epidemiology and an associate of SCA. "While over half of SCA's survey respondents believe that handwashing is important, there are still clear gaps in the relationship between beliefs and practices."


The pulp and paper manufacturer also released other statistics that may not be quite as troubling, although they're certainly still worth noting. According to SCA, only 40 percent of study participants attested to washing their hands after a sneeze or a cough, and more than half said they don't bother washing their hands after they use public transportation, handle gym equipment or pick up money.


For the best hand-washing results, the company recommends using warm water, enough soap lather to last 20 seconds and a thorough rinse. Especially at public restroom, it's advised that a paper towel be used to turn off the potentially bacteria-infested faucet handle.


In this way, by SCA's estimates, people may lessen their chances of becoming infected by one of the 840,000 germs most people encounter by touching 300 publicly used surfaces every half hour.


The Mayo Clinic echos these warning from SCA. The nonprofit healthcare organization states that washing hands takes little time, but does individuals a great service in disease protection. When soap and water aren't around, Mayo recommends the use of an alcohol-based sanitizer, as long as it contains more than 60 percent alcohol, and moist towelettes to wash away possible bacteria.

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