Following guidance from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that unwell adults should wear a face covering if they have to go out, drivers are now being urged to wear gloves at the fuel pump to avoid getting – or passing on – flu, Covid or other serious illnesses found on fuel pump handles.
The call follows research which shows that 5% of all fuel pump handles have Covid-19 present on their surfaces, which equates to at least one contaminated fuel nozzle at every single fuel station in the UK.
As the number of covid infected patients in wards hit their highest level in two months, and the number of patients being admitted to hospital with flu jumped seven-fold in a month, according to NHS stats, there are growing worries that peaks in illness throughout 2023 could put an even larger strain on the NHS. According to the British Medical Association (BMA), pressure on the NHS is “intolerable and unsustainable”.
MP Steve Brine, chair of the Commons health and social care select committee, added that fears of a “twindemic”, caused by flu and Covid infections, were “sadly being realised”.
With over 2 million motorists refilling their vehicles on a daily basis, over 100,000 drivers will be handling fuel nozzles contaminated with Covid-19 each day. That figure could soar as people get back on the road after the Christmas break, with forecourts being a potential hotbed for the transmission of illness where drivers fill-up without wearing gloves.
GripHero, which supplies on-the-nozzle anti-static gloves to forecourts across the UK, is asking drivers to play their part in stopping the spread of flu, Covid and other illnesses as they restart the New Year.
Oli Yeo, inventor of GripHero, commented: “We know that transmissible variants of Covid as well as seasonal flu, and Strep A are spreading across the UK rapidly. One of the highest transmission points is fuel pump handles, as drivers that fail to wear gloves can swiftly pass on and pick up transmissible illness from other drivers that have coughed or sneezed on their hands and then held the fuel pump.
“You only have to look at drivers in traffic to see how frequently they touch their face, rub their eyes, or eat food on the go,” says Yeo. “That creates a direct path for flu, Covid and other illness if gloves aren’t used. It’s one place that a mask just won’t help.”
Oli Yeo added: “The good news is that almost all UK fuel stations provide gloves for the health and safety of their customers. Wearing gloves before you pick up the fuel pump handle forms a physical barrier between your hand and whatever the many drivers in front may have left on that surface. Given that you’ll be holding a surface that has been tightly held by hundreds of other drivers for up to three minutes, we simply ask that drivers ‘glove-up’ to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s the only certain way of stopping the chain of transmission from fuel pump handles dead in its tracks.”
“This one simple act could help to slow the rapidity of the spread of sickness this year, which can leap hundreds of miles in a matter of hours, as millions of drivers travel from one part of the country to another, spreading illness via fuel pump handles; a surface which has been proven to be over 11,000 times dirtier than the average toilet seat. It’s a simple step that could significantly reduce the burden on the NHS, all year round, and should really become second nature.”
The advice to wear face masks will be in place for months as schools and workplaces return after the Christmas break. The UKHSA guidance is fully supported by Transport Secretary Mark Harper.
GripHero’s recognition that fuel pump handles provide a clear path of transmission led the business to dispatch over 50,000 free glove dispensers to forecourts on five continents during the pandemic; protecting an extra 60 million drivers against Covid-19, in addition to the 500 million motorists already protected by GripHero’s on-the-nozzle gloves, every year.