Georgia-Pacific HealthSmart

Benefits of good hand hygiene

Girl at School Germs at the Office Hand Washing in the Healthcare Environment

Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.(1) This simple practice, which can be completed in just 20 seconds, reduces absenteeism at school, increases productivity at work, and reduces the spread of infection to patients in hospitals.

Reducing absenteeism in schools

Each day, children are exposed to a wide variety of germs at school. If children don’t wash and dry their hands regularly while in school, their chances of becoming ill increase.

Implementing a hand washing program in your school reduces the rate of infection and lowers absenteeism. High absenteeism creates an economic trickle effect that keeps parents home from work to care for their sick children, increases costs for substitute teachers, creates a burden on teachers who must play “catch up” with absent kids, and ultimately affects school funding—which is determined by measures of both attendance and performance.

Increasing productivity at work

The economic cost of lost productivity in the US due to the common cold is near $25 billion. Eight billion dollars of the cost is attributed to employee absenteeism, and $16.6 billion is attributed to on-the-job productivity losses. In addition to these costs, $230 million is lost to caregiver absenteeism.(2)

Reducing hospital-acquired infections

Seven hundred twenty-two thousand hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) occur in acute care hospitals in the US each year.(3) One in 25 hospital patients will be directly impacted by HAI.(4) It is so prevalent, in fact, that it is among the top 10 causes of death in the US.(5)

The hand hygiene compliance rate among healthcare workers is estimated to be at or below 40 percent.(6) If existing preventive practices were fully implemented, however, 70 percent of certain HAIs could be reduced,(7) and approximately $25 billion to $35 billion in medical costs could be saved.(8)

For more information about products that can help improve hand hygiene in your facility, please visit or call 1-866-HELLO GP [435-5647].


  2. Productivity Losses Related to the Common Cold research. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. September 2002
  3., retrieved April 14. 2014
  4., retrieved April 14. 2014
  5., retrieved April 24, 2014
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings: Recommendations of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA Hand Hygiene Task Force. MMWR 2002;51(No. RR-16):[22], retrieved April 4, 2014
  7. Making Health Care Safer: stopping c.difficile infections. Vitalsigns. March 2012. October 14, 2014
  8. Scott RD. The medical costs of healthcare-associated infections in US hospitals and the benefits of prevention.
    2009:13. Retrieved October 14, 2014