How clean is your office?

by FM Media
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Maintaining a hygienic workplace can be a challenge, but it’s the best way for employees to avoid getting sick, according to workplace service providers Alsco.

There may be cleaning staff, but employee etiquette also plays a big factor in keeping the work environment tidy and productive. Posters are one of the best ways to convey effective hygiene reminders in the workplace. That said, there are printable versions which can be downloaded for free.

People in developed countries spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, most of it working eight or more hours in an office. That’s how long employees are exposed to disease-causing germs, which can be easily passed on from person to person.

If you notice coughing, sneezing, and red-nosed workers, don’t immediately blame the weather or the commuter they sat next to. The culprit could be your workplace, which harbours hundreds of different types of bacteria.

Here are some shocking facts about germs in the office:

  • The average desk contains about 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.
  • A typical desk has up to 10 million bacteria.
  • The area on your desk where your hands rest has around 10,000 bacteria.
  • Office phones host around 25,000 germs per square inch.
  • The microwave handle and vending machine buttons are among some of the dirtiest surfaces in the office.
  • Around 75 percent of office faucet handles are considered a serious risk for illness transmission.
  • Nearly a quarter of water cooler buttons are considered a serious risk for illness transmission.

You may be surprised as how your work desk is so full of germs and bacteria. This is because they rarely get cleaned like public areas do. Most of the time, the cleaning staff are not allowed to enter anyone’s cubicle, except to empty the trash.

Frequently touched surfaces are also a breeding ground for germs. These include microwave handle, vending machine buttons, lift buttons, telephone handsets, door handles, and toilet flushes.

Why Invest In Workplace Hygiene?
Under the law, employers are responsible for health and safety management. It is their duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business.

When it comes to hygiene, a workplace is required to:

  • Have an infection control plan.
  • Provide clean hand washing facilities.
  • Provide boxes of tissues and encourage their use.
  • Remind staff to practice proper hygiene in the workplace.
  • Clean a work area if a person has suspected or identified influenza.
  • Make sure ventilation systems are working properly.

Even with reduced health hazards in the office, the spread of germs won’t be controlled unless employees do their part. People are the primary source of bacterial contamination. It’s the droplets from the mouth or nose of a sick person ending up in yours that can cause illness.

Once disease spreads, absenteeism begins. This can become a burden on the company and the rest of the staff. There will be a drop in overall efficiency and the extra work handed to other staff members can impact morale.

Creating a clean workplace is one of the best ways to retain employees and maximise productivity. Help your company’s bottom line by implementing and promoting hygiene habits and encouraging your staff to participate.

Benefits of Good Workplace Hygiene
Implementing good hygiene practices has both health and social advantages. It not only helps in combating illness but also boosts employees’ self-confidence. If workers become more aware of the risks and benefits, the spread of disease will be kept to a minimum, if not totally prevented.

Every time you touch a surface, sneeze, or use the bathroom, you pick up potentially harmful organisms. You can also spread certain germs casually by touching another person. Hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.

For instance, you should wash your hands in the workplace:

  • When hands are visibly soiled.
  • After using the washroom.
  • After blowing your nose or after sneezing in your hands.
  • Before and after eating, handling food, drinking or smoking.
  • After handling garbage.
  • After talking to a potentially sick co-worker.

The best way to protect workers is to control or get rid of the hazard. The strategy should start with communication. Do not assume that because your workers know the importance of these practices, they would do it all the time. They still have to be reminded.

How to Promote Good Office Hygiene?
There are a lot of methods that you can use in order to remind workers about the importance of workplace hygiene.

Apart from lectures, posters provide a logical and cost-effective way of presenting information. Attractive posters have the ability to stick in viewers’ minds.

These signs and posters will prompt employees to practice good hygiene, resulting in a healthier workplace. Below are catchy hygiene posters that you can display at your washrooms, offices, workplaces or in highly visible public areas.

Raise awareness with the following ‘healthier office’ reminders:

1. Wash your hands right after sneezing. (View poster)
Respiratory illnesses are spread by coughing or sneezing and unclean hands. Hand washing has been ingrained in us since childhood, but every year it seems we need some reminders. Here’s a good way to tell your employees how important it is to wash their hands right after sneezing into their hands. Download PDF

2. Germs are big commuters. (View poster)
Germs travel up to 10 metres at an average of 40 km/h when you sneeze. Usually, these microorganisms are transmitted from unclean hands. To control the spread of germs, remember to wash your hands with soap and clean water. If both are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Download PDF

3. Dry your hands thoroughly. (View poster)
Good hand hygiene should include drying hands thoroughly. Otherwise, it could increase the spread of bacteria since water and warmth encourage the growth of germs. The most hygienic method of drying hands is using paper towels or using a hand dryer. Download PDF

4. Share kindness, not germs. (View poster)
Communicable diseases are transmitted through touch. For instance, a co-worker might acquire an illness by simply touching unclean hands, secretions, or contaminated objects. Good hand washing techniques include using an adequate amount of soap and rinsing under running water. Download PDF

5. Clean and disinfect surfaces. (View poster)
A typical desk has up to 10 million bacteria. Even your keyboard contains 70 percent more bacteria than a toilet seat. A routine disinfection of surfaces during any cleaning process is a must. Don’t always wait for the cleaning staff and do your part by cleaning your cubicle. Download PDF

6. Throw your trash properly. (View poster)
Airborne germs are very resilient. Materials that might contain germs, such as dirty nappies, towels, and hankies, should be thrown away properly. Doing so, you can prevent them from coming in contact with others. And, remember to wash your hands afterwards. Download PDF

Spread Good Hygiene In the Workplace
Your office is lurking with nasty germs every day that it’s easy to see how your office can make you sick. Taking simple steps like putting up hygiene posters can go a long way towards keeping employees healthy and productive.

One advantage of using posters is that they can be placed anywhere and seen by almost anyone. You can even hang multiple posters in one location to ensure that the message is going to stay in their heads.

For more downloadable hygiene posters that can be used in your workplace visit the Fresh and Clean Hygiene Resources page.

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