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Office Hygiene

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How to improve office hygiene

Our hygiene habits at work have a big impact on our health and the health of those around us, yet many office workers are unaware of just how easily potentially harmful germs from the bathroom can travel throughout the office.

Researchers from the American Society of Microbiology used tracer viruses to establish that a single contaminated doorknob or table top can result in viruses spread throughout an office building. Within two to four hours, the virus was detectable on 40% to 60% of workers, visitors and commonly touched objects.

Hand Hygiene

Good hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to help minimise the spread of germs in the office. In a recent study, 50% of workers admitted to having left the bathroom without washing their hands due to poor bathroom facilities. Providing a good bathroom experience can have a direct impact on your employees’ hygiene behaviours.

  • Encourage good hand washing practices with awareness campaigns, posters  and notices in common areas.
  • Ensure provisions such as soap and paper towels are well stocked at all times.
  • Clean taps and soap dispensers regularly to help reduce cross-contamination.
  • Consider touch-free soap and sanitiser dispensers to minimise contact.
  • Provide appropriate solutions to encourage good hand drying practices. Damp hands spread 1000 times more bacteria than dry hands.

Cubicle hygiene

Germs can spread easily through the air when toilets are flushed without the lid closed. Within 60 seconds of a toilet being flushed the average sized washroom can be covered with bacteria, urine and faecal matter. Managing the germs, scale and bacteria build up within the toilet can help reduce the risk of germs spreading.

  • Toilet seats should be sanitised regularly, preferably by each individual user, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Toilet handles should be cleaned several times a day.
  • All female bathrooms should be well provisioned with feminine hygiene units.
  • Toilet rolls should be protected from the sneeze effect with anti-microbial toilet-roll holders.

Common Areas

A recent study by Initial found that 32% of office workers sometimes or always hot desk, and 49% eat at their desks. The potential for cross-contamination is high as germs from the bathroom are spread by contaminated hands and transferred to shared desks, office equipment and food.

  • Encourage colleagues who hot desk to wipe down the keyboard, mouse, phone and desk surfaces before using these workstations. Shared desks are often neglected and can have a build-up of germs and contamination.
  • Clean and regularly disinfect all food surfaces (in kitchens and eating areas) to reduce the risk of cross-contamination via contact with food.
  • Install hand sanitisers in high footfall  and common-use areas.

Next Steps

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