Workplace hygiene | The do’s and don’ts

Workplace hygiene | The do’s and don’ts

We all know that a clean and hygienic workplace is a happy workplace, with high levels of productivity and employee wellbeing. We all have a part to play in keeping our working environment clean and pleasant, so let’s remind ourselves of the dos and don’ts of workplace hygiene.

Clean up after yourself

Make it a habit to clean up after yourself throughout your working day. This includes immediately wiping away spills or food debris from your desk, to cleaning down your equipment on a regular basis. The same goes for using work washrooms — leave them in a state you would wish to find them in.

Wipe down your workstation regularly

Research reported in The Independent found that the average desk is home to 400 times more germs than a toilet seat. Wipe down items such as your desk surface, phone, mouse and keyboard at least once a week with disinfectant wipes suitable for electronic items to keep the nasties at bay. 

Wash your cups and mugs daily

Washing your office cups and mugs daily is essential. An article published on NetDoctor stated that 90 per cent of office mugs were contaminated with germs — thanks to them being washed up with sponges that weren’t changed often enough.

Clean your office mug every day in a dishwasher. If this isn’t available, take it home and wash it there.

Use hand sanitiser

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at the effectiveness of a workplace hand hygiene programme that included hand sanitisers. Results showed that it reduced the risk of infection at work and improved employee satisfaction.

Keeping a bottle of sanitiser on your desk makes it easy to get into the habit of keeping your hands clean and germ-free.

Adhere to the company’s hygiene policy

Your company’s hygiene policy is there for a reason: to make your workplace safe and to protect you.

Read it so you can understand what’s expected of you. It should also list what your company should provide to help you fulfil your obligations as an employee. This is even more important if you work in a healthcare setting or a food preparation area.

Don’t sneeze or cough without covering your mouth and nose

Proper sneezing and coughing etiquette is essential to minimise the risk of infection. Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw it away. Be careful to wash your hands thoroughly after.

This article on the Healthline website is full of tips on how to deal with cough and cold at work.

Don’t leave the toilet without washing your hands

According to the World Health Organization, hand-washing is the single most important thing you can do to prevent spreading infection. This is why it’s so important to clean your hand thoroughly after using the bathroom when there is a high risk of contamination. For more guidance on hand-washing, take a look at this guide produced by the WHO.

Don’t use a public toilet without wiping it down

It’s a good idea to wipe down any public toilet seat before you use it. If your workplace provides toilet seat covers, fix one on before you use the loo.

You can also use fresh toilet paper to wipe down the toilet seat. Have a bottle of hand sanitiser available you can squirt it onto the seat before wiping it down.

Take home message 

Your workplace should be a clean and safe place to spend your time. Understand the part you play in helping to keep it that way by observing a few simple hygiene rules. Don’t underestimate the importance of hand-washing and use of hand sanitiser as well.

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