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Workplace Wellness: Learn What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

Posted by Briana Smith on Apr 25, 2013 12:30:00 PM
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This is part 1-of-2 blog posts with WAXIE Sanitary Supply’s interview with Peter Leahy from Kimberly-Clark Professional*

The second half of the interview is Workplace Wellness: How You Can Take Action


Typically everyone spends at least 8 hours a day at work, which is sometimes more than you spend with your family during the week. So you’re at work a lot. It’s your home away from home for all intents and purposes. As such, Workplace Wellness is a very important topic no matter where you work, especially when colds and the flu start making the rounds, not to mention allergy season.
If there were easy things that you could do to reduce the chance of catching something you’d do it, right? Well what if everyone at your work practiced the same preventative measures? Stands to reason that everyone would be less likely to catch an illness at work and you’d be more productive at your job.

Workplace Wellness has been a particular focus of Kimberly-Clark Professional* and they’ve worked diligently in developing a solution to help employers and employees educate, promote and practice good habits at work, including but not limited to the importance of having a hand hygiene routine. They’ve come up with a program called The Healthy Workplace Project*, to combat illnesses in the workplace and to improve the general health of everyone.
WAXIE Sanitary Supply recently had the opportunity to talk with Peter Leahy, who works in Marketing for Kimberly-Clark Professional*; we discussed germ hot spots, how cross-contamination can be reduced, and the results from a 2012 study they conducted on the subject of Workplace Wellness that led to the creation of several effective programs specifically for offices, schools & universities, industrial workplaces and other types of work environments. We also talked about what people can do to take action in their own workplaces, as well as some fun facts and tidbits about Kimberly-Clark Professional* that you may not have known before.

WAXIE Clean Touch Foam Soap Systems

About Kimberly-Clark Professional*

  1. For someone who is not familiar with Kimberly-Clark Professional*, can you describe who you are in three words or phrases?

    • We create Exceptional Workplaces*
    • We help make workplaces safer, healthier and more productive
    • We provide innovative solutions from trusted, well-known brands

  2. What values does Kimberly-Clark Professional*, as a business sector, embody?

    Kimberly-Clark Professional* partners with businesses to create Exceptional Workplaces*, helping to make them safer, healthier, and more productive. We deliver leading-edge health, hygiene and productivity solutions that provide tangible benefits and value every day, everywhere. Our parent company, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, provides people with essentials for a better life by adding conveniences to daily routines with some of the world’s most recognized products.

Georgia-Pacific enMotion Towel Dispensers

Workplace Wellness

  1. Why is Workplace Wellness so important, and why do you think it’s been such a hot topic lately?

    I believe the primary reason is that it’s good business sense. Companies want to provide their employees with a healthier and more productive office environment. In addition, happier and healthier employees are generally more productive. As fewer employers provide sick days and convert to Paid Time Off (PTO), employees want to use their time off for vacations and other needs – not sick days. So it’s important to keep workers who are on the job healthy. Finally, having a robust worker wellness program can differentiate a company from its competitors, by demonstrating that the company cares about its employees enough to take extra steps to protect their health and well-being.

  2. People always talk about germs and cross-contamination in the same sentence; how does cross-contamination happen?

    Many people believe that cross-contamination occurs a) in the air, and b) only in places like restrooms. The reality is that in most offices, frequently touched surfaces are the primary sources of cross-contamination. These germs can be transferred by human touch up to six times. And often it’s the places you least suspect that are most likely to be contaminated.

    For instance, break room sinks and microwave door handles were found to be the dirtiest surfaces touched by office workers on a daily basis, according to a 2012 Kimberly-Clark Professional* study. Other germ hot spots include refrigerator door handles, keyboards, water fountains and vending machine buttons. If these surfaces aren’t sanitized, or if workers touch them and don’t wash or sanitize their hands afterwards, they could be exposed to illness-causing bacteria right in their own lunchrooms, as well as elsewhere around the office.

  3. What can we do to reduce occurrences of germ cross-contamination?

    There’s a simple way to help reduce the spread of germs on hands and surfaces. We call it the HYGIENIFY!* wash, wipe, sanitize protocol. This easy, three-step process enables people to take hygiene into their own hands by washing hands, sanitizing hands when soap and water aren’t readily available, and wiping and disinfecting surfaces – especially germ hot spots. This helps break the chain of germ transmission. It’s a common-sense approach to hand and surface hygiene.

    For instance, if you eat lunch at your desk, try to sanitize your hands and wipe down your desk before placing your sandwich down and eating it. The same goes for your computer keyboard and mouse – two other germ hot spots. The good news is you can significantly reduce your chances of catching a cold, flu or other illness by 80 percent practicing effective preventive measures like our HYGIENIFY!* wash, wipe, sanitize protocol.

    Kimberly Clark Professional Office Germ Hot Spots

  4. What exactly are germ hot spots and how does someone go about identifying them in their facility?

    Germ hot spots are frequently touched surfaces that can harbor bacteria and viruses, some of which can live for 24 to 48 hours. In a 2012 study, hygienists from Kimberly-Clark Professional* The Healthy Workplace Project* collected nearly 5,000 individual swabs from office buildings housing more than 3,000 employees and identified the most common hot spots. The above infographic provides more detail. In the same study, half of all computer mice and desk phones were found to have Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) levels above 100, suggesting that while people appear to be taking more responsibility for the cleanliness of their personal spaces, there is still a need for increased awareness of the importance of hand and surface hygiene in the office.

    A little bit about ATP: ATP is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission.

  5. If someone is washing and drying their hands with soap and water, why do they need to use hand sanitizers? 

    Sanitizers can help remove 99.9% of germs in locations and situations where soap, water and paper towels are not available and/or not convenient.

  6. Too much sanitizer can cause skin to be dry, what can someone do to prevent that?

    You can look for a moisturizing hand sanitizer. KLEENEX® Moisturizing Foam Hand Sanitizer, which has 62% ethyl alcohol, also features a proprietary formula that contains moisturizers and conditioners to hydrate the skin.

Part 2 continues next week with Workplace Wellness: How You Can Take Action where we discuss The Healthy Workplace Project* from Kimberly-Clark Professional* with examples of program award winners, their international efforts to improve worker health, and their partnership with WAXIE Sanitary Supply.

Hand Sanitizers - Next Best Option After Soap & Water

About Peter Leahy: 

Peter Leahy works in Marketing for Kimberly-Clark Professional*, supporting the Cleaning & Hygiene business. He is focused on creating Exceptional Workplaces* with distributor-partners, helping to make workplaces healthier, safer and more productive. In his previous position, Peter launched The Healthy Workplace Project* in North America. It aims to keep people healthier by promoting hand hygiene  and healthier environments, to improve business outcomes.


To Learn More:
Hand Hygiene Solutions - Hand Hygiene is as Easy as 1-2-3
Hand Towel Systems - Kimberly-Clark Professional* MOD* System Towel Dispensers
Kimberly-Clark Professional* - http://www.kcprofessional.com/home
The Healthy Workplace Program* - http://www.kcprofessional.com/solutions/the-healthy-workplace-project
2012 Kimberly-Clark Professional* Study -
Where the Germs Are: New Study Finds Office Kitchens and Break Rooms are Crawling with Bacteria

Topics: hand hygiene, Kimberly-Clark Professional, workplace wellness

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