Unfortunately, today’s modern workplaces are full of hazardous: potential accidents, work-related stress and other health issues due to poor hygiene practices. As somewhere that we spent a great deal of our time, as well as somewhere that we come into contact with a lot of other people, our workplace can have incredible impacts on our health and longevity. It is therefore the responsibility of all employers to maintain a healthy workplace environment for their workers, which means making sure it is clean, safe and hygienic.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common hygiene issues in the workplace, and what every employer can (and should) be doing to address them.
Workplace restroom hygiene issues
You would be shocked by the diseases that inhabit your workplace restroom. If businesses do not take the necessary steps to ensure clean and safe restrooms, their employees and visitors alike could be exposed to a range of harmful germs. Common bacteria which are found in public and workplace bathrooms include E.coli, shigella, hepatitis A, streoptococcus, staphylococcus and the common cold virus. These and other bacteria can cause illness, unnecessary absences from work and can even be deadly.
The presence of this bacteria is a result of a failure to clean the bathrooms adequately, or not cleaning tem often enough. The public restroom environment is, unfortunately, ideal for the spread of infections: small pockets of moisture are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and infections can be easily passed from one person to another through sinks, tap handles, door handles, cubicle locks, and flushes. In the case of the common cold virus, this is often found because hand washing is not correctly enforced, and/or proper hand washing supplies are not supplied by the employer.
Poor ventilation and air quality issues
Poor indoor air quality can cause a number of health impacts on workers, including long-term respiratory problems which can be severe and even deadly. There are many reasons that poor air quality may arise: pollutants from outside may be pulled in by air conditioning systems, or dust and chemicals from construction may not be properly managed and end up in the air supply. Additionally, hazardous gases like radon can build up to harmful levels indoors. A lack of proper ventilation is another leading cause for poor indoor air quality, so it is important that all businesses maintain well-ventilated areas and check workspaces regularly for contaminants.
Poor waste collection and disposal practices
Businesses produce tons of waste every year in the UK, and a failure to deal with the collection and disposal of this waste effectively can put their employees at risk. Improper waste management can lead to infections, skin diseases, contagious viruses and other health risks. The most common waste generated by businesses is cardboard and plastic waste, and these can become quite costly to manage properly. Unfortunately, it is common for to businesses try to cut costs in this area, and this is when hygiene issues arise. Waste of any kind is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and may also harbour dust and other contaminants which could cause respiratory issues. Therefore it needs to be stored effectively and disposed of efficiently and safely.
Lack of safe sharps disposal
Sharps carry a range of very serious potential hazards, and therefore it is important that all workplaces have a system in place to deal with these effectively. Some organisations – hospitals and medical practices for example – have to deal with large volumes of sharps on a daily basis. For other types of businesses, this is often an area which they do not commonly have to deal with and so is overlooked. However, there are many situations when sharps may need to be managed, and therefore all businesses should have a system in place for dealing with these.
How to promote better workplace hygiene
Fortunately, a few simple practices implemented in the workplace can go a long way to promoting better workplace hygiene and reducing illness and injury among workers. Not only is this the right thing to do by their employees, this also has benefits for the business itself. A more hygienic workplace means a happier and healthier workforce, which in turn means less sick days, increased productivity, and ultimately more profits for the organisation!
Here are the top measures to take to improve workplace hygiene:
1) Maintain a regular supply of hand sanitiser, as well as other important consumables such as hand towels, toilet roll and handwash.
2) Have good hygiene policies and procedures in place.
3) Encourage workers to take sick days when they’re unwell to avoid the spread of disease.
4) Properly manage and dispose of all waste.
5) Have a sharps disposal system in place.
6) Have designated eating and drinking areas and strictly enforce them.
By taking these simple measures businesses will improve the hygiene levels of your workplace, protect the health of their workers and ultimately improve their own bottom line!