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Good Hygiene In The Workplace

Germs and viruses ranging from common colds to severe stomach bugs can often spread like wildfire through workplaces and can quickly bring workforces to a standstill.

Within days, superbugs such as the dreaded norovirus and severe flu strains can take hold of entire workforces and before you have time to reach for the tissues, large numbers of people are off sick, productivity is at rock bottom and the whole workplace resembles a doctors’ waiting room.

Although it is difficult to completely eradicate these types of bugs and viruses, ensuring that good hygiene measures are in place will make a big difference in limiting their spread. Maintaining great hygiene doesn’t mean doing an occasional, deep clean; instead, good hygiene needs to be part of our daily lives.

In vulnerable environments such as healthcare and kitchens, key legislation such as the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974)and the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 provide strict guidelines on cleaning procedures and the prevention of ill health.

Most illnesses are caused by viruses or bacteria being transferred through direct contact with other people and via everyday items that we handle. Research has found that some cold and flu viruses can live for several days on certain surfaces so good cleaning procedures combined with the regular sanitisation of things that are handled regularly, such as door handles and switches, can make a big difference.

It also makes regular hand washing the best way of reducing the chances of picking up germs and improving hygiene standards. However, employers cannot take this for granted and must promote it throughout the workplace.

The most obvious place to start is in the washroom and at the very least workplaces must equip these with the basic necessities, including clean sinks, soaps and appropriate hand drying facilities such as paper towels or electric driers.

As an extension of this, hand sanitiser dispensers are costeffective and can be placed in strategic positions throughout a workplace or it may even be appropriate to provide disposable gloves, depending on activities.

In areas that are particularly at risk of infection and germs, such as schools and hospitals, a wide range of products are now made using innovative anti-bacterial materials that can resist the growth of microbes and organisms including bacteria, moulds, fungi and others, while still being very strong and long-lasting.

Lastly, it’s important to bear in mind that someone coming to work with a cold or other virus can often do more harm than good so always encourage sick workers (and martyrs!) to go home and recover rather than giving their illness to everyone else.

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