Hand hygiene in the workplace

A colleague in the office coughs, the customer sneezes in a meeting: Dragging yourself to work out of a sense of duty despite posing a risk of infection doesn’t do the company any favours. In the worst case scenario, you can infect a lot of colleagues. Whether it's by shaking hands or using the same things: Germs can be passed on very easily! For example, flu viruses can remain active on surfaces for 48 hours. To protect your colleagues and avoid outbreaks, it is thus important to pay attention to proper hand hygiene at all times. And not just in acute cases or seasonal waves – the flu is a year-round phenomenon.

Correct equipment for hand hygiene in the workplace

  • Washrooms must be equipped with washbasins providing hot and cold running water.
  • There must be an agent available for cleaning hands – ideally soap in a dispenser.
  • It should be possible to dry hands – single-use towels are the best.
  • Disinfectants should also be provided.
  • There must be at least one rubbish bin, and all bins should be emptied regularly.
  • If disinfectants are used regularly or you handle food, skincare and protective products should also be provided – as specified in the skin protection plan.

Clean working

Illustrated brief guides in the washroom can effectively support hand hygiene in the workplace. You can order these and additional training materials free of charge here.

Hand hygiene at work – what the German law says:

“Only towels intended for a single use (single-use towels) are permitted as a hygienic tool for drying hands. For example:

  • Paper towels which can be retrieved from a towel dispenser, roll or pile;

  • Textile towel dispensers providing a 20-cm-long section of clean towel immediately or within maximum 5 seconds and dispensers where the used towel is stored separately from the unused towel;

  • Hot air dryers can also be used.”


Workplace Guidelines for Washrooms (ASR 35/1-4) / subsection 5.10

Hand hygiene in nurseries and schools

Children run around all day long in nurseries. They play, the dig in the sand and mud and they put their fingers and other objects in their mouths. Germs get passed around very quickly. Teaching them proper hand hygiene at an early age is an effective means of reducing the risk of infection. This requires not only the help of staff, but also a washroom tailored to children's needs with easy-to-use and self-explanatory appliances. An important step towards independence. The same thing applies for schools: Whether in the classroom, in the playground or in the sports hall, attention to hand hygiene helps prevent high rates of sickness. Among pupils and teachers alike.

The most important tips for students, teachers and staff

  • Regular and thorough handwashing.
  • Use single-use towels made of fabric or paper to dry hands – no shared towels.
  • Air rooms regularly.
  • Use disposable paper tissues to blow noses.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow crease not your hand.
  • Pay attention to your own health and increase your immune strength with a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Take possible symptoms seriously: Stay at home at the first signs of illness.

Making hand hygiene child's play

Stickers for mirrors and posters with the most important hygiene rules can be ordered free of charge here and used in hygiene instruction in schools and nurseries.

Handwashing in nurseries and schools – what the German law says:

“Employees (...) should be provided with easily accessible places to wash hands (...), direct dispensers with soaps which are kind to the skin, disinfectants and suitable skin care products as well as single-use towels.”


Accident Prevention Ordinance (UVV) BGV C 8 “Healthcare Services” Section 6 Para. 1

Hand hygiene in the hospitality sector

Chopping, seasoning, stirring soup – we need our hands for everything in the kitchen, which is why proper hygiene is an absolute necessity in the hospitality sector. It is the only means of ensuring the health of guests and staff alike. However, washing your hands once before you start is of course not enough. To avoid cross-contamination – the transfer of bacteria from one foodstuff to another – it is important to clean utensils, appliances and hands regularly.

Don't forget: The Employer’s Liability Insurance Agency also prescribes the need for skin protection in the kitchen. When you continually come into contact with water, wear gloves or wash your hands, the skin can easily become damaged and thus requires corresponding moisturising care.

By carefully equipping kitchens it can be ensured that these legal standards concerning hygiene and skin protection are satisfied without any problems – even when time is of the essence. And if you really want to impress your guests, you can provide appealing washrooms and a hygienic dining area. After all, cleanliness is the best business card there is.

Tips for hand hygiene in professional kitchens

  • Always keep fingernails clean and cut short, do not wear nail varnish.
  • Cover wounds with a waterproof plaster, bandage or rubber finger cover.
  • Remove all jewellery and watches before starting work.
  • Wash your hands regularly and carefully in the sanitary facilities – never over the sink.
  • Do not touch prepared food and the insides of dishes with your bare hands.
  • Additionally, disinfect your hands after touching raw foods or using the toilet.
  • Only use care products for legally required skin protection which are free from perfumes and colourants for product protection reasons. 

Three stars for hand hygiene

Stickers for mirrors in the dining area and staffrooms can be ordered free of charge here.

Handwashing in the hospitality sector – what the German law says:

The European Food Hygiene Directive (Directive (EU) No. 852/2004) specifies that all businesses dealing with food should employ “facilities for the hygienic washing and drying of hands(...)”. For the interpretation of “facilities” for hand drying


the ministers for health of the German federal states refer again to the specifications of the workplace ordinance.