How to improve hygiene in the workplace

As businesses return to work under strict new guidelines to control the spread of the Coronavirus, we look at changes that can support social distancing by improving general hygiene in the workplace. While social distancing measures are designed to limit contact to reduce the spread the virus, good hygiene practices will help eliminate germs on surfaces. This prevents "hot zones" from forming in shared spaces. Once in place, a lot of the steps you implement now to improve workplace hygiene will also be beneficial in the future as they will reduce the spread of winter viruses, colds and flu between employees, helping to reduce the amount of sick days taken by staff members.

Hand washing stations

Frequent hand washing is essential to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria on surfaces. Hand washing stations at entrances and convenient locations throughout the workplace will encourage employees and visitors to comply. Signs or printed mats reminding people to do so are also helpful. Depending on the building and facilities, hand washing stations could be sinks with anti-bacterial soap or hand gel dispensers. The employer should also ensure hand sanitiser is readily available for each member of staff to use within reach of their workstation and in any communal spaces. As frequent hand washing can irritate the skin, also consider providing emollient hand cream at the stations.

Open door policy

Keeping doors open helps air circulate and stops germs being spread on door handles. Where fire regulations permit, keep internal doors open so that once employees enter the building and wash their hands they have a clear route to their workstation. If possible, keep external doors and windows open as well to bring fresh air into the workspace and help dissipate airborne particles.

No-touch bins

Bins are another thing that people frequently have to touch. By providing bins with hands-free operation throughout the workplace, you stop this becoming a place where germs can be spread. Consider pedal bins, touch-free sensor bins or open top receptacles as suits your business and the type of waste disposed of in that area.

Regular cleaning of surfaces

Surfaces should be cleaned regularly, particularly in shared spaces such as kitchens, dining areas and conference rooms if in use. Make anti-bacterial wipes or spray widely available and encourage employees to wipe down surfaces after they’ve used them. If you don’t have a regular cleaning service, consider implementing an employee cleaning rota. If you do ask staff to take on this extra responsibility, make sure you provide the right equipment and gloves to keep them safe and look at ways to reward them for going the extra mile.

These simple changes can make a significant difference to hygiene levels in the workplace, creating a cleaner and more pleasant work environment for employees, both now and in the future.

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