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The handshake is a standard gesture when we say hello, goodbye, make an agreement, and it is an important way for many of us to communicate non-verbally. However, have you ever wondered if the cold or flu you’ve had in the past were caused by a simple handshake?
Dr Dave Whitworth, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences conducted a study in 2014 - which found that a firm handshake was the least hygienic greeting, transferring 124 million live bacteria on average. It’s no surprise as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 80% of infections are transmitted by hand and once spread, flu viruses are able to survive for up to 24 hours!
In light of this, we’ve looked into alternative and more hygienic ways of greeting someone to replace the good old-fashioned handshake.
1. Fist Bump
Published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, Dr. Tom McClellan, a West Virginia plastic surgeon, and his colleagues conducted a study to evaluate whether a handshake or a fist bump is more effective in reducing germs transmission in a hospital setting. They found that a fist bump can further reduce cross contamination between health care providers as it reduces contact time and total surface area exposed.
The survey also discovered that handshakes can transfer 10x more bacteria than fist bumps. Perhaps switching from handshakes to fist bump can really help promote a cleaner and cooler way to greet someone while limiting the transmission of bacteria.
2. Hand Wave
A wave is a non-verbal communication gesture that people commonly use to greet or say goodbye to each other. Waving involves no touching, can be done from a distance and this allows for greeting when you first spot another person. Hence, a hygienic alternative to handshake.
3. The “Wai”
In Thailand, the ‘Wai’ is their customary greeting whereby both hands clasped together in front and held close to the body. The greeting gesture is also accompanied with a slight bow. This greeting is not only respectful and courteous, but it is also wonderfully hygienic as no touching is involved.
Extremely popular in the western culture, the head nod’s origin is based around symbolising agreement and acceptance, it is a gesture that has evolved into an acknowledgment of someone’s presence.
Compared to the other greetings on this list this is more of a pre-greeting, acknowledging someone before initiating a form of greeting such as a handshake or fist bump. However, as the head nod requires no touching of any kind, it is a great, hygienic way, to greet someone informally.
So, is the Handshake Dead?
Now you might be thinking if a simple handshake could get you sick, this form of greeting should be stopped. Well, that’s not entirely true.
Issues surrounding handshakes and the transmission of germs can be simply defeated by practicing proper hand hygiene. Handshaking is still a great way to greet someone, just remember to wash your hands thoroughly, especially before you touch sensitive areas such as your mouth and nose, and before eating.
Start practising proper hand hygiene steps:
For more information on our hand hygiene solutions, contact us at 1300 882 388 today!