Hand hygiene is the primary measure to reduce infections, this has been a particular focus area since Covid 19. A simple and effective action, perhaps, but the lack of compliance is problematic worldwide. The use of alcohol based hand sanitiser gel is a fast and convenient way to increase cleanliness and fight infections but no substitute for through and regular handwashing. As traditional hand washing is not always possible due to water supply the use of alcohol based hand sanitiser has allowed an added layer of protection and greater piece of mind. During the current covid-19 pandemic, the use of hand alcohol based sanitiser gel has massively increased both in care homes and across all sectors of public and private life.
In order to maintain compliance with the safety regulations (in this case Regulation 12: Safe Care and Treatment) set by the Care Quality Commission, flammable liquids, cream and gels require a risk assessment. This is something that we at Care 4 Quality frequently encounter the CQC checking for during inspections, usually in relation to flammable emollient creams. There has been increased scrutiny in this area in recent years following a fire in a care home in Lancashire in May 2018 caused by a reaction between emollient creams and cotton towels.
Many alcohol based hand sanitisers gels are classified as Flammable in their Material Safety Data Sheets as their flash points are 21ºC or higher. Liquids with a flash point below 21ºC are classified as Highly Flammable and some manufacturers classify their hand gels as such. Alcohol based hand gels give off a flammable vapour which is heavier than air and which will burn with a colourless flame.
This risk assessment contains guidance on the use of hand sanitizer gel which will allow you to both manage the risks associated with alcohol based hand sanitisers and provide you with evidence of this to demonstrate your compliance with regulations to all external bodies.
Therefore, we have drafted this adaptable risk assessment template for you to download and use in your service. We would also recommend that you carry out daily walk arounds of your service to ensure that alcohol gels are being stored and used appropriately.