A public restroom is typically a place where people keep their eyes to themselves, especially at work. But sometimes you just can’t help but notice something… especially when that something is a co-worker leaving the bathroom without washing his hands.
This happens more often than you may imagine: According to the latest Healthy Hand Washing Survey from Bradley Corporation, 56% of workers say they frequently or occasionally see their colleagues leave the restroom without washing up. And men are more likely than women to overlook this tidy task: 63% of men frequently or occasionally observe non-washing behavior compared to 49% of women.
Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial washroom, emergency safety and industrial solutions, has conducted its annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey since 2009.
Considering how frequently coworkers shake hands and touch public surfaces throughout the workday, knowing how many germs these unwashed colleagues could be spreading is alarming. (Just in case your coworkers need a reminder: In order to wash away bacteria, germs, and dirt that accumulate on hands, a good, thorough hand washing includes soap, vigorous scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, and running water.)
In addition to hand washing—or lack thereof—the survey explored workplace restrooms and what might be done to improve them. It found that air freshener is the #1 amenity workers would like to have added, followed by touchless fixtures and hand sanitizer.
Makes sense, since 42% say they’ve had unpleasant experiences in their workplace restroom. Workers most often cite clogged and unflushed toilets, unpleasant smells, paper towels on the floor, and restrooms that are old, dirty, and unkempt.
As the cold and flu season approaches, hand washing continues to be Americans’ first defense against illness: 61% say they wash their hands more frequently to remove germs they may have come in contact with or to avoid passing them along to others. More than half (56%) stay home when they’re sick, and 50% sneeze into the crook of their elbow. A majority of workers (81%) take conscious steps to prevent getting sick by avoiding a coworker who’s ill, washing their hands more frequently, and refraining from shaking that person’s hand.
“For employees – and the general public – the condition of restrooms is a litmus test for businesses and establishments,” said Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development at Bradley Corp. “Over the years, our survey has consistently shown that the vast majority of Americans believe the condition of workplace restrooms is one indicator of how a company values its workforce. What’s more, 84% expect a business that provides high quality products or services to also have restrooms that provide a high quality experience.”
The annual hand washing survey queried 1,035 American adults about their hand washing habits in public restrooms and the workplace as well as their concerns about germs, colds, and the flu.