There has been a huge increase in demand for hand hygiene products during the Covid-19 pandemic. Existing suppliers including Diversey have increased their production capacity while companies from other industries have launched new products to help fill the gap. But how can businesses and their customers be sure that the products they are using are effective? The answer lies in checking that products meet international infection prevention standards.
Personal contact and touching contaminated surfaces – and then touching our own eyes, nose, or mouth – are two of the main ways the virus can spread. Disinfecting or washing our hands frequently helps to prevent this and is something we can all do. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is effective but there are many situations where this is not possible. An alcohol-based hand rub or gel that can be used on its own is an excellent option in these cases.
Professional hand hygiene products are tested against international standards to show they are effective. The UK and Europe use standards described in the EN system. Products that meet these standards must carry details on their packaging and in their documentation. Independent and accredited laboratories carry out this testing under strict conditions. This provides assurance that a product has been verified to meet a particular standard.
The EN14476 Standard
The most important standard related to the Covid-19 pandemic is EN14476. This covers the virucidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. It applies to products – including hand rubs and handwashes – used in medical applications.
EN14476 is important at the moment because it includes a specific test against enveloped viruses (in the form of the vaccinia virus). This is the same type of virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19. Enveloped viruses are generally easy to kill so disinfectants which meet the requirements of EN14476 (specifically the “fully virucidal” or “virucidal against enveloped viruses” tests) should be effective against SARS-Cov-2.
The EN14476 standard stipulates a product must deliver a “log 4” reduction in the amount of virus. This is the same as a 10,000-fold or 99.99% reduction and must be achieved within specific timeframes. Hand rubs, for example, must work within at least 30 seconds but take no longer than two minutes, reflecting the need for speed and convenience. Retail or consumer products are rarely tested to these exacting standards and generally claim lower (eg 99.9%) reduction rates.
ASK SUPPLIERS FOR EVIDENCE
Suppliers should be able to show evidence their products meet relevant disinfection standards. They should also offer additional supporting documentation such as user guides and wall charts that encourage frequent and proper use.
Diversey products that meet EN14476 include the Soft Care Des E, Soft Care Med H5, and SURE Instant Hand Sanitizer hand rubs. Each is available in a range of formats including dispenser systems and portable bottles with built-in dispensers. Diversey also offers small bottles for personal use. This provides customers with complete flexibility to select the right combination for every situation to encourage proper and frequent use.