The Importance Of Good Hygiene In The Workplace

Posted March 24, 2020, by Elesha

Whether it’s leaving your lunch in the office fridge until it becomes a mound of green, bacterial fuzz, coming to work when you’re sick or talking on the phone in the toilet cubicle – have you let your hygiene in the workplace slide?

The rapid spread of COVID 19 has been a huge reminder about the importance of following basic hygiene practices to stay healthy.

Maintaining good hygiene in the workplace is the responsibility of both business owners  – to establish clean practices for the office in general – and employees to keep their personal hygiene standards high. 

Why Personal Hygiene In The Workplace Matters

Where you’re working alongside a bunch of people in close proximity, you need to think about how your personal hygiene affects others, not just yourself. 

Good hygiene practices lead to healthier teams which means less sick leave and a workforce that is happier and more productive overall.

In a report by the Absence Management Survey from Direct Health Solutions, employee absenteeism due to sick days is estimated to cost the Aussie economy $33 billion in lost productivity.

Tips For General Workplace Hygiene (For Managers And Business Owners)

Arrange a regular cleaning schedule 

A regular cleaning schedule is good hygiene 101.

While employees should be responsible for cleaning their personal desk space regularly, it’s up to management to ensure the kitchen, bathroom and shared office spaces are cleaned daily by hired cleaners .

Have single-use paper towels available for staff to wipe their hands 

This tip is specifically to maintain strict hygiene standards during the COVID 19 outbreak.

If single-use paper towels aren’t usually stocked in the bathroom or kitchen (ie – there is an air dryer) make sure they are available during this period. 

Hygiene experts have advised drying your hands with paper towels is more effective than using an air dryer to stop the spread of COVID 19.

Weekly fridge clean

The back of the office fridge can be a scary, fuzz-filled place where forgotten food goes to die.

Mould encrusted, abandoned lunches aren’t just a health risk, they’re super gross for everyone else who stores their lunch in the company fridge. 

Company policy should require staff to label their lunches with their name and the date it goes into the fridge. Once a week, anything without a label or a week past its date of entry is removed and either tossed out or returned to its owner!

Allow remote work during illness or outbreak

Equip your teams with the technology they need to work from home if they aren’t well (but still able to work), looking after an ill family member, or during times of highly contagious outbreaks – like COVID 19.

The easier leaders and business owners make it for their staff to work from home the less disruptive illness will be on the day-to-day operations. 

Check out this handy guide on How To Set Up Your Home Office

Tips For Personal Hygiene In The Workplace (For All Staff )

Ok, so there might not be any groundbreaking hygiene in the workplace tips in this list but it’s an important reminder of the basics to keep yourself and your colleagues healthy!

Wash and dry your hands properly 

Put the soap into your palms, splash water onto the soap and rub palms together. Make sure a lather builds up and soap covers the entire surface of your hands and extends beyond the wrist. 

Wash between each of your fingers and focus on cleaning under your nails too. The handwashing process should take around 40 – 60 seconds.

Does the water have to be warm or hot to be effective? Not according to UNICEF who advise temperature is not an important factor when washing your hands, soap is the key.

Rinse the soap water off and dry hands with a single-use disposable paper towel. Paper towels have been found to be more effective in removing any lingering bacteria than hand dryers. 

Don’t take your phone into the toilet

A quick scroll through Insta or talking on the phone while you’re in the toilet cubicle is super unhygienic.

We’re pretty sure you can tear yourself away from your device for a few minutes while you take a bathroom break. 

When toilets flush, they spread germs everywhere –  including the surface of your phone. You then take those germs back to your desk and basically everywhere else with you. Ick. 

Clean your devices

On that note, don’t skip a regular clean of your personal devices. According to the research we’ve all likely heard by now your phone screen is more contaminated with bacteria than a toilet seat.

Different devices might have different cleaning instructions so always check with the manufacturer’s advice on what to do. The most common way to keep your phone healthy is wiping it down regularly with a damp microfibre cloth – don’t forget your phone case too. 

Stay at home if you’re not feeling well

It’s basic office etiquette and good hygiene in the workplace.

If you’re feeling under the weather, stay at home to avoid spreading it to your coworkers. There’s nothing worse than sitting next to a colleague who is sneezing and coughing all day long. When the risk of infection is high, social distancing is a must.

Don’t prioritise work over your health or the health of your colleagues.

Keep your keyboard clean

It’s up to you to keep your desktop hygiene in the workplace up to scratch and this includes regularly cleaning your keyboard.

Keyboards are a great place for germs to fester and can become bacteria spreading culprit. A study by a U.K. consumer organisation, found that keyboards can be up to five times dirtier than the average toilet seat.

Slightly dampen a clean, microfibre cloth with water and wipe the keyboard clean – never spray water onto the keyboard directly. You can use a can of compressed air to gently get all the yucky bits of debris out from between the keys.

While you’re cleaning the keyboard, take the opportunity to wipe down all other surfaces around your desk space with an unscented disinfectant –  desktop, mouse, phone, desktop, and chair arms.

Don’t keep perishable food in your desk drawers

That stinky curried egg sandwich just gets even stinker after it’s been forgotten for a few days in your desk drawer.

Side note: Why are you eating curried egg sandwiches at your desk anyway? Please don’t. Kind regards, all your co-workers. 

Store sandwiches, fruit, muffins – anything perishable – in the fridge, not at your desk. 

The bottom line? Staying healthy and happy at work comes down to a few simple behaviours. Don’t forget to do them!


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