Workplace Safety Blog
Sanitizing the Nose: A Vital Hospital Practice Now Transferring to the Workplace
Dr. Michael J. Manyak, MD, Chief Medical Advisor for Crisis Response and Sanitize Your Nose Advisory Board Member
Infection control and prevention has been THE hot topic since March 2020. With cold and flu season upon us, health officials are warning against a potential ‘twindemic.’ This makes reducing infection transmission in the workplace a continued challenge.All for good reason—a study by the American Society of Microbiology found that within 2-4 hours of a pathogen being introduced in one office, it was detected in 40-60% of other surfaces in the building. In addition to the effective strategies directed by AIHA and OSHA, there is a well-established strategy for infection prevention that hospitals have been using for years: sanitizing the nose. This practice is now being recognized as a vital safety strategy across the workplace.
The nose is often under recognized as a reservoir of infection-causing germs. On average, people touch their noses more than 100 times a day. While 90% of Americans have increased their hand washing since the COVID-19 outbreak, there are still many opportunities for germ transmission from the nose to the hands, as the nose is a vulnerable area and a hot spot where germs enter and leave. Nasal antiseptics, such as alcohol-based solutions and povidone iodine, are recommended by the CDC in clinical settings, and they are often an essential component to an effective hospital infection prevention plan.
Employers can play an important role in reducing the spread of germs by incorporating nasal sanitization—clinically known as nasal decolonization— into workplace infection prevention protocols. Effective hygiene protocols enhance safety and improve the workplace, without compromising traditional workflow.
Critical and practical steps can be taken to ensure that workers properly follow these safety procedures related to sanitizing the nose, such as:
- Provide education about infection portals and modes of infection spread, including the nose
- Develop materials that include key points about infection spread and explain why sanitizing the nose is effective
- Add nasal sanitization into current workplace safety protocols and procedures
- Follow up with employees to ensure they are observing recommended hygiene practices, including sanitizing the nose, to mitigate the spread of infection
- Keep a record of infection rates for diseases like the seasonal flu and staph infections
- Encourage personal accountability and emphasize the need for employees to be up to date on vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases
The best infection prevention strategies attack pathogens at its source. Sanitizing the nose is scientifically validated and proven to work—thousands of health care facilities sanitize patients’ noses and have seen reductions in infections year over year. Adding this cost-effective layer of protection can help reduce transmission within the workforce, contributing to better health and safety protocols among employees and customers.
It’s time to view sanitizing the nose as the other half of infection prevention, and include it in hygiene protocols along with handwashing. This important infection prevention practice should live beyond the current pandemic and become a staple of workplace safety recommendations – it is a simple, effective layer of protection that employees can easily include in their hygiene routine.
For more information on incorporating sanitizing the nose as a routine hygiene protocol in the workplace, see our Workplace Safety page.
About the Sanitize Your Nose Campaign
“Sanitize Your Nose” is a public health education campaign to raise awareness of the nose as a hot spot for infectious germs. This initiative will underscore the importance of sanitizing your nose along with routine hand hygiene to help reduce the risk of germs. To learn more about the other half of prevention, visit www.SanitizeYourNose.org.
Nozin® is the leading brand for nasal decolonization. Designed to improve care, lower infection risk and reduce health care costs, Nozin programs utilize Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic with clinically supported infection prevention solutions. Nozin follows a mission to improve the quality of life for people with innovative health technologies. Global Life Technologies Corp. is the maker of Nozin® brand products.*All figures are from YouGov Plc. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st – 26th May 2020, the survey was carried out online and the total sample size was 1301 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+). The national survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Nozin.