Preventing Workplace Sickness: Three Simple Steps
Tips for keeping bugs at bay
Workplace sickness spreads like wildfire as once the germs set in, its up to your workers to manage and stop it going any further. We’re not suggesting your employees are unhygienic or unclean, but it is common that once one person in the office goes down with a flu bug, others soon follow. Employees with a sniffle or a cough may still think it’s OK to go to work, but as they touch surfaces around the workplace and chat with their colleagues, the chance of their germs spreading heightens.
We know just how well germs can survive, even on flat surfaces, and one sick person in the workplace will come into contact with lots of different things throughout there day. From door handles to office equipment and faucets to tables, the workplace is full of germ-friendly surfaces so it is important to have strategies in place to deal with even the most minor coughs and colds.
Here are three simple ways, endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for managing germs and keeping even the nastiest bugs at bay.
1. Hand Washing Regime
We’ve learned more about hand washing in the last 18 months than ever before and research shows us time and again how important it is for a clean work environment, and general hygiene. Viruses remain active longer in colder temperatures and on surfaces, so if they come into contact with warm skin, they’ll quickly multiply and spread sickness. Proper handwashing protocol should be included in staff training and signage around the workplace should encourage it too. Keep these key points in mind when it comes to hand washing:
- Regular hand washing is essential for a clean workplace and should take place frequently throughout the day, using warm water and soap. Disposable towels or air dryers should be used to avoid germs spreading on reusable towels and cloths.
- Every trip to the restroom should end with hand washing.
- Any contact with any bodily fluid means you need to wash them again.
- Alcohol-based sanitizers are a good solution when soap and water aren’t easily available. Encourage colleagues to carry their own sanitizer or keep it in their desk drawer.
2. Keeping Coughs Under Control
A single cough doesn’t mean someone is genuinely sick and a few coughs throughout the day aren’t always a sign of illness spreading. However, coughs do spread germs and minimizing this spread is important. Germs which only cause mild coughing and illness in one person may be much more serious for another and any germs spreading around the workplace should be avoided. Coughing etiquette can be taught and included in your employee training or handbook. These tips should help keep coughs and their germs at bay:
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth whenever possible
- Immediately dispose of the tissue in the nearest trash can
- When no tissues are available, cough into the crook of your arm
- Wash or sanitize your hands immediately after coughing
3. A Clean Work Environment
Keeping with workplace as clean as possible is the best thing you can do to keep germs at bay. Employing professional cleaning and janitorial service guarantees a high standard of cleaning across your premises but it’s also important to have standards and best practices in place for your team teams too. Frequently touched items should be disinfected regularly, minimizing the number of germs in the workplace. Get into the habit of wiping down at the end of the day, provide employees with antibacterial wipes for their equipment and encourage a proactive approach to cleanliness.
Another key factor in keeping your workplace germ-free is having a fair and understanding sickness policy. Sick employees should not feel obliged to come into work and this should be made clear. Allowing sick employees to stay in work is asking for trouble and it shouldn’t be a surprise if you end up with several workers becoming ill and needing time off. It is also worth considering Sick Building Syndrome if employees are repeatedly ill and unwell in the workplace but improve once home.
No one wants to lose staff to illness so ensuring your workplace is as clean as possible is key. It is also important to ensure staff training is up to date and all employees do their part to combat the spread of germs.
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