A UK-based business, recognised at the highest level for its role in protecting the public against Covid-19, is calling on motorists to wear forecourt hand-protection at the fuel pump as a first line of defence against new variants of Covid-19, including Omicron.
GripHero, which last week received a national award for its decision to provide its forecourt glove dispensers free to fuel stations internationally – to help stem the pandemic, believes that the simple act of wearing hand-protection will significantly reduce the speed of the new Omicron variant’s transmission.
Research shows that forecourts are high-transmission points. Here, every single day, drivers from across the country and across borders hold fuel pump handles tightly for up to three minutes. As a result, they pass whatever is on their hands to a surface that will be gripped by the next driver waiting to refuel.
GripHero’s recognition that fuel pump handles provide a clear path of transmission led the business to dispatch over 50,000 free dispensers to forecourts on five continents; 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, which are dispensed at the driver’s first point of contact with fuel pumps.
The decision to offer its dispensers free of charge was made by GripHero as its internationally patented system is the world’s only static-safe, customer hand-protection product permitted in Zone 1 for fuelling; allowing its gloves to be withdrawn from the top of the fuel pump handle.
The Association for Petroleum and Explosives Administration (APEA) acknowledged GripHero’s part in slowing the spread of Covid-19, presenting it with the 2021 Health and Safety Performance Award, just last week.
By forming a physical barrier between drivers’ hands and fuel pump handles, GripHero’s forecourt refuelling gloves break the chain of transmission, preventing viruses, biohazards, chemicals, carcinogens, diseases and illness being passed from one driver to another.
Oli Yeo, inventor and managing director of GripHero, commented: “The Omicron Covid variant is causing huge concern among governments, scientists and health bodies. A return to compulsory face masks in shops and schools, as well as specific travel restrictions, shows the level of concern about the new Omicron variant’s transmissibility; its risk to health, and its potential to evade current vaccine protection. That needs to be taken seriously, especially when you consider that the first and least transmissible strain of Covid-19 was statistically shown to have contaminated the hands of over 50,000 UK drivers every day.
“What’s vital for the public to understand, is that holding a fuel nozzle handle is not a light touch. Unlike pressing the buttons on a pay pad, it’s a firm grip for several minutes. During that time the palm and fingers come into direct contact with a surface that has been touched by hundreds of other users, many of whom could have Covid-19.”
Oli Yeo added: “The public have the ability to protect themselves by wearing readily available forecourt hand-protection each time they fill up. That provides an impenetrable barrier which protects the driver from touching a surface that could be harbouring Covid-19 in its many forms, as well as other illnesses. Forecourts too have their part to play in making hand-protection readily available, ideally on each and every fuel pump.
“This one simple act could help to stop the rapidity of the spread of Omicron, which can otherwise leap hundreds of miles in a matter of hours and sit on fuel pump handles; a surface which has been proven to be over 11,000 times dirtier than the average toilet seat.”
Oli Yeo concluded: “It’s a cliché, but it has been never more important to prevent rather than cure, especially as drivers rarely wash hands after filling up, and there are concerns about the detrimental impact of sanitisers to human and animal health.”
Before GripHero came to market, the factor preventing hand-protection being dispensed in the fuelling zone was the potential for vapour ignition caused by a static charge when a traditional glove is withdrawn from conventional hand-protection packs.
Through GripHero’s innovative use of ATEX-Certified static-safe material, all chance of such ignition is removed, while also blocking any static spark between drivers and fuel equipment. This enables GripHero’s dispensers to be placed directly on the fuel nozzle itself or on flat surfaces in the fuelling zone. No other hand-protection alternative is permitted in the fuelling zone in this way.
Research from Tufts University in 2020 showed that the first and least transmissible strain of COVID-19 contaminated 3.3% of fuel pump handles. Based on 8,500 forecourts in the UK and the daily number of drivers fuelling, that currently equates to over 50,000 drivers each day coming into contact with Covid-contaminated fuel pump handles.