Hand Washing Diligence in UAE Declines a Year After MERS Outbreak

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wisconsin, June 15, 2015 / PRNewswire — A national hand washing survey finds Emiratis are less diligent about hand hygiene than they were last May when MERS was a top concern in the Arabian Peninsula. This year, 70 percent of respondents say they always wash their hands after using a public toilet compared to 80 percent in 2014. In addition, more than half now report they frequently or occasionally see others leave a public toilet without washing up.

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According to the survey, when Emiratis see someone who doesn’t wash their hands, most respond by washing their own hands thoroughly and avoiding the person and anything the person touched.

The results are part of the second annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey conducted in the UAE by Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, partition cubicles, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers. In 2014 and 2015, the online survey was fielded in early May.

Those polled admit they employ a variety of techniques to avoid germs in a public toilet. 67 percent use a paper towel so they don’t have to touch the door handle, toilet flusher or faucet handle. Others open and close toilet doors with their hip while some operate cubicle latches with their elbow.

Germ avoidance also carries over into the workplace. 82 percent of respondents say they consciously take steps to limit exposure to a sick colleague’s germs by using a few different strategies. They avoid the sick colleague, abstain from shaking that person’s hand and wash their own hands more frequently.

“While it appears the concern about MERS has somewhat abated since last year, at least in the UAE, it’s important to remember that hand washing is still the best defense to prevent the spread of infection and illness,” says Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development for Bradley Corporation. “We want our annual survey to call attention to the importance of hand washing and the protection it provides.”

The survey also explored the perceived condition of public toilets and found nearly 70 percent of Emiratis have had a particularly unpleasant experience in a public toilet due to the condition of the facilities. A bad smell, water on the floor and an old, dirty or unkempt appearance top the list of problems.

When asked what could be improved with public toilets, cleanliness is a priority. That may explain why respondents rank toilet entrance door handles, cubicle door handles and sinks as the top three surfaces they dislike touching the most.

For businesses, an unclean toilet has negative implications. The majority of respondents say it indicates poor management or shows the business doesn’t care about its customers.

The Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 571 adults May 7-18, 2015 about their hand washing habits in public toilets. Participants were from around the UAE, ranged in age from 18 to 55-plus, and were split between men (48 percent) and women (52 percent).

For more than 90 years, Bradley Corporation has designed and manufactured public facility hand washing and sanitaryware, and today is the industry’s comprehensive source for plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, toilet cubicles, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers. Headquartered in Wisconsin/USA, Bradley serves the airport/transportation, industrial, health care, recreation, religious facility, stadium, education, and corrections markets worldwide.