Workplaces are some of the easiest places for bacteria and viruses to spread; generally, they contain lots of people, feature many shared touchpoints, and have communal facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.
Germs can pass from person to person, and you can catch anything from a common cold to e coli. With the extra risk of Covid-19 piled on top of these illnesses, keeping on top of workplace hygiene has never been more crucial.
In poorly maintained and unhygienic environments, health hazards can readily establish themselves. It’s up to the employer to ensure that cleanliness standards are implemented and upheld.
Why workplace hygiene is important
There are many reasons it’s important to keep up an exceptional standard of workplace cleanliness. Employees, alongside customers or visitors, can run the risk of becoming ill – or in the worst circumstances, can lose their life due to bad workplace hygiene.
In fact, the Covid-19 virus alone contributed to 14% of all sickness-related absences after April last year.
Every workplace will have different hygiene requirements; food preparation services in particular must have very strict hygiene protocols. Additionally, different environments will pose different cleanliness risks, therefore all risks should be taken seriously and efforts should be made to mitigate them.
Prioritising cleaning in the workplace
Cleanliness and personal hygiene isn’t just an important thing to consider. As an employer, you are legally bound by the Health and Safety Act of 1974 to ensure that employees are protected from health and safety risks.
Therefore, there are steps you can take to ensure that cleanliness and hygiene are prioritised in the workplace, and good standards are upheld.
Implement a cleaning regime
Create a strict schedule for cleaning and stick to it. A regular cleaning routine is one of the most simple but effective ways to improve the cleanliness in your workplace.
You should have a full cleaning plan, and a stocked supply cupboard to ensure that your workplace is scrubbed as often as it needs to be. Our Cleanline Disinfectant comes in large 5-litre bottles, which you can use to refill spray bottles for an eco-friendlier option. This will ensure that your surfaces can always be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised.
If you decide to hire external cleaners, be clear what level of cleanliness is required, how often the cleaning must be done, and when premises are due to be inspected.
Target germ hotspots
Bacteria can’t multiply on a surface without a helping hand. Germs rely on people moving around and transferring them from one place to another, therefore you must be aware of what areas in your workplace are most used.
Think of areas that are frequently touched, such as door handles, lift buttons and railings. Also consider any shared equipment, such as printers, and how frequently these need to be cleaned. Covid-19 in particular is easily spread via touch-point surfaces, so you must counteract this by cleaning them.
A thorough cleaning schedule alone is often not enough, and cleaning should also be done throughout the day. Placing some antibacterial wipes near high-touch areas will encourage and remind staff to use them, and will subsequently decrease the chances of bacteria growing on any given area.
Don’t forget the kitchen and washroom
Even if you don’t work in a food service environment, it is still vital to thoroughly clean the kitchen and bathroom, and to make sure they are appropriately stocked.
With Covid-19, handwashing is a primary prevention strategy, so make sure your washroom always has plenty of soap and paper towels. Wet hands are known to spread germs faster, so drying is just as important as washing.
Importance of maintaining personal hygiene
Even if you have a sparkling clean workplace, as much responsibility lies with your employees to maintain it as it does with you.
To ensure they take their hygiene seriously, provide a workplace hygiene policy for every member of staff so they know what is expected of them. Be careful to install hand sanitisers, or even have tubs of anti-bacterial hand wipes, around the space to enable staff to clean their hands as often as they need to.
Every employee should be responsible for cleaning their own space, and this should be laid out in the policy. Then, place posters around the workplace to remind them, such as handwashing posters in the bathroom.
If employees undertake this responsibility seriously, then the risk of infection will be reduced. To keep it simple, employees should:
- Clean up after themselves
- Wash any cups/mugs daily
- Wash hands after using the washroom
- Use sanitiser throughout the day
- Regularly wipe down their workstation