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How to Improve Personal Hygiene and Cleanliness in the Workplace.

We are currently in our winter months which are already associated with numerous sicknesses and illnesses, never mind all the noncommunicable diseases people already deal with. In addition, we must deal with the infectious novel Coronavirus. Absenteeism and increased health care costs due to sickness and illnesses, always have a significant impact on productivity in any workplace.

How Do You Maintain Hygiene in the Workplace?

  • Invest in the proper training of your cleaning staff and implement a cleanliness and hygiene policy and protocols
  • Cleaning should be done regularly and continuously
  • Make sure the restrooms and breakrooms are spotlessly cleaned regularly
  • Toilet paper, tissues, sanitizers, soap and wet wipes should be freely available throughout the workplace.

Loss in Productivity because of Absenteeism due to Sickness and Illness:

Prior to the Pandemic, Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA) reported that absenteeism costs the South African economy around R12 – R16 billion per year. The Human Capital Review estimated it to be an even higher R19,144 billion annually. So the assumption can be made that absenteeism is one of the most expensive problems affecting business both locally and internationally.

The Human Capital Review backed up their findings with trends that Absolv Software showed:

  • 14.08% of the total sick absenteeism incidents in corporate South Africa are related to influenza;
  • 13.8% of all sick leaves taken by males were due to influenza;
  • Influenza accounted for 11.55% of all sick leaves taken in the female segment of the 150 000 strong sample;
  • For women, the second highest reason for sick leave taken was acute bronchitis;
  • 6.09% of the total sick leave incidents relate to gastroenteritis every year

To combat absenteeism by reducing illnesses caused by viral infections such as Covid-19, gastroenteritis and influenza in the workplace; may include more sanitized and hygienic work environments as well as boosting employees’ immune systems through promoting healthy habits and wellness.

What are the dirtiest places in an office?

According to an article by Dan Rose published on the blog skillpath.com: “The germiest place in your office is probably in the break room, says a study from Kimberly-Clark Professional, a company that produces paper products and advises companies on workplace hygiene. The study team swabbed roughly 4,800 surfaces in workplaces ranging from law offices to manufacturing plants, and identified six spots that you should probably avoid—or at least wash your hands after touching.” Although this study was conducted in the US it might not be a very different scenario in South Africa.

It is safe to say that bacteria, viruses and germs spread through touching contaminated surfaces and transferring it to yourself when you, in turn, touch any part of your face. What we know is that something like the coronavirus which causes COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person. This means that when an infected person coughs or sneezes, their droplets containing the virus goes into the air. It also lands on their hands or on nearby surfaces. When they touch surfaces with contaminated hands they transfer the virus on to that surface. A healthy person can then either breathe in those droplets when they are too close or also contaminate themselves by touching such a surface or object and then transferring it by touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

Have a look at these things listed in the article: “The 10 Dirtiest and Nasty Places in Your Office”

  1. Breakroom sink faucet handles
  2. Microwave door handles
  3. Keyboard and mouse
  4. Drinking fountain buttons or handles
  5. Vending machine buttons
  6. Refrigerator door handles
  7. Door handles
  8. Handrails on escalators or in stairwells
  9. Non-automatic soap dispensers in restrooms
  10. Your desk

How many of these surfaced did you touch and not wash your hands immediately afterwards? It is scary to think that you are surrounded by billions of invisible germs and viruses that can cause you to become ill. So what can you do? Here are 7 quick things every employee should do to improve personal hygiene in the office. If you all work together you can maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of the entire business and all its employees.

7 Quick Do’s and Don’ts every employee should know about Personal Hygiene in the Workplace.

  • Don’t leave your dirty tissues and dishes laying around – throw away or wash them
  • Don’t use any toilet without wiping it down first
  • Don’t touch your face or leave the restrooms (toilets) without washing or sanitizing your hands
  • Don’t sneeze or cough without covering your nose and mouth
  • Don’t reuse old tissues or unwashed crockery or utensils
  • Don’t come to work sick – you might infect others
  • Do clean your desk and equipment properly twice a day
  • Do clean up after yourself
  • Do wash or sanitize your hands regularly throughout the day
  • Do bring your own tissues and wet wipes to avoid running out.
  • Do dispose of you trash regularly
  • Do assist your cleaning staff by giving them the opportunity to clean properly
  • Do adhere to the company’s hygiene policy

Diseases, sicknesses and illnesses due to bad hygiene can include:

  • Covid-19
  • Skin infections
  • Flu
  • The common cold
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Food poisoning
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia

…to name but a few. It is, however, every employee and cleaning staff member’s responsibility to maintain the hygiene and cleanliness of the entire office. The Mindspa Institute can offer a Cleanliness and Hygiene course where businesses can invest in the training of their cleaning staff. This course can be customised to create awareness of illnesses such as Covid-19 and general personal hygienic practises in the workplace.