How to Improve Workplace Hygiene During Covid 19

  • Washing your hands should be a regular occurrence in your office space.
  • If you are cut, scraped, or hurt in any way, cover your injury up to prevent yourself from getting sick, since viruses can enter the body through every damaged on the body – even your eye.
  • As an employer, you have to be quick in your decision making and preventing problems, as well as minimizing the damage and emergencies.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, hygiene in a workplace and other spaces where large numbers of people gather has become of high importance. The pandemic has shown us what can be improved in hygiene practices, even for the spaces where hygiene was on a high standard. Many employees have started working from their homes and will continue to do so when the pandemic is over. For the companies that are still working from offices, hygiene has become one of the most important everyday tasks, in order to protect their employees and customers. If you are looking for ways how to further improve hygiene in your workplace, we have created a list to help you. Read on to see how to improve workplace hygiene.

Even if your employees have good hygiene and keep their office space tidy, it is possible they are doing something that can affect office hygiene, so you should give them pointers.

Employee Education and Training

The first step in improving hygiene in the workplace is the proper education of employees. Most people know the basic hygiene protocols, but in a time of a pandemic, it’s important to have improved hygiene. Educating your employees will result in better hygiene of themselves and the office space, resulting in fewer chances of infection and spreading viruses. Besides regularly scheduled cleaning services, every employee should have a part in keeping their surrounding as clean as possible. Even if your employees have good hygiene and keep their office space tidy, it is possible they are doing something that can affect office hygiene, so you should give them pointers. Your staff should also be allowed to voice concerns and give feedback, as well as ideas for further improving workplace hygiene.

Do’s of Personal and Workspace Hygiene

An action as simple as washing hands can seem logical and easy, but many of us don’t wash hands properly, or even regularly. To increase workplace hygiene, a higher standard for hygiene must be reached. The proper way to wash hands is: Rinse your hands under warm water and form foam with soap; Rub your hands, wrists, fingers, and fingernails in 20-30 seconds (a  Happy Birthday song two times); Rinse well for 10 seconds; Dry hands with a paper towel and use the paper to turn off the faucet. Dispose of the paper in a dedicated bin. Washing your hands should be a regular occurrence in your office space. It should be done especially when arriving at the office, after using the toiler, after sneezing, coughing, etc, after touching any part of your body – like hair; Before and after eating, drinking and chewing gum, after touching equipment, etc.

Minimizing the Possibility of Infection

There are many steps to preventing the spread of viruses and hygiene, improving the situation in the world at the same time. There are many ways to be responsible and do your part to prevent illnesses in the workplace. When sneezing, coughing, and blowing your nose, always use a new paper tissue that you can throw it out later. If you are cut, scraped, or hurt in any way, cover your injury up to prevent yourself from getting sick, since viruses can enter the body through every damaged on the body – even your eye. Clean your clothes and shoes regularly too to spreading the virus all over the carpet. Contact lenses are a perfect place for viruses and germs to spread and accumulate since the lenses are moist most of the time, or kept in a dark place. Try to avoid wearing lenses as often as you can, and the glasses shouldn’t pose any problem. If you have long hair it should be slicked back into a bun or a low bun.  If you are supposed to wear protective clothing, scan the clothing thoroughly before putting it on.

Dont’s of Personal and Workspace Hygiene

There are many mistakes we can make when handling a situation in a pandemic, fortunately here is a small list of possible dont’s for the workspace. If you are wearing protective clothing and are not one-use only, wash it separately from your other clothes to stop the contamination of the viruses. If it’s contaminated, don’t use it or wash it alone. Never share utensils, plates, and cups with other people. You must not leave your nose or mouth uncovered when sneezing or coughing. After washing hands or drying them, never use the same towel/paper towel on your face or other parts of the body.

Addressing Emergencies and Problems

As an employer, you have to be quick in your decision making and preventing problems, as well as minimizing the damage and emergencies. If you notice your employee not following the guidelines for proper workplace hygiene and causing the problem for other employees, you have to address the issue as quickly as possible. If problematic behaviour is not addressed, the lives and health of your other employees can be at stake. Encourage your employees to educate their colleagues, and report repeated mistakes. Periodically evaluate the taken measures for higher workplace hygiene to see if they are giving high results and if it’s not burdening your employees.

Scheduled Cleaning Service

A weekly or bi-weekly scheduled cleaning service will highly improve your workplace hygiene and help in the reduction of possible viruses. Cleaning services should already be a normal occurrence in your office space, but now it’s especially important. The service will thoroughly clean and disinfect the whole space so you can rest assured the office is clean and safe to work in. Remind your employees that they should tidy their desk and working space when the workday is over to keep a general level of hygiene.

Hand Sanitizers

A very simple and efficient way to improve hygiene in your workplace is to encourage regular use of hand sanitizer. We are always in contact with many surfaces and objects throughout the day, resulting in hands being very unhygienic. Different bacteria and viruses can survive on surfaces if they are not cleaned regularly. This means using hand sanitizer often will help prevent employees get infected. Hand sanitizer should always be used after visiting the restroom, after entering the building and office, touching the elevator buttons, railings, etc, it’s best not to touch often used surfaces like railings, but if it’s unavoidable, hand sanitizer should be used immediately. Sanitizer dispensers should be available in every room and throughout the office building for easy access.

Garbage Disposal Systems

Breaks are taken in common areas of a workplace, including the kitchen, bathroom, employee room, etc. This can be a breeding ground for viruses and hygiene that is not up to par. Food and drinks consumed in the kitchen or lounge areas are easy to contaminate, especially if left alone outside. To improve your workplace hygiene, warm foods, and foods in generals, must not be left in the open, or even in the feuded. Only tightly and properly sealed food containers can be kept in the refrigerator. A garbage bin is used to easily dispose of uneaten meals throughout the day. Cleaning companies can provide with proper garbage disposal systems, as well as emptying these bins during their scheduled cleaning.

No Sharing

Items that can easily spread viruses in the workplace are used in common areas, like kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchen towels are not cleaned frequently enough to be used in a workspace, especially during the peak times of flu and virus season. Replace any towels for paper ones, preferably from a wall-mounted dispenser. This also goes for soap and dishes. Even if your workplace has a dishwasher, it cannot be a guarantee that the machines will wash and kill off all the bacteria. It can happen that your co-workers use your utensils and cups, and you don’t know if they have been washed and disinfected properly. Convert to using single-use pieces of glasses, plates, and cups. Be sure to remember to purchase the bio-degradable and eco-friendly versions.

Prevention of Spread

Increasing hygiene in the workplace is the first step to prevention of illnesses. The next step is preventing the spread of viruses as much as possible. During the colder month, heating and less frequent opening of windows is a big reason viruses spread so easily in the workplace. In the summer, air conditioning is a common way for viruses to spread. Opening windows frequently and proper ventilation is key to prevent spreading the virus in the collective. I possible, spread the desks and workplaces of your employees so they don’t have frequent contact with each other.

Stay at Home

If you or your employees suspect they are infected with a virus or bug, they need to stay at home for at least 48hrs to monitor their symptoms and prevent further spread. Easier illnesses like the common cold can be greatly reduced with time off from work for resting. Employees must contact their GP for proper testing and treatment. Acting fast and in relation to guidelines can prevent the spread of the virus in the collective. After all the symptoms have passed, the employee should not come to work for at least 48h to see if the symptoms have completely gone away. It is recommended that, if possible, employees work from home until the needed time for isolation has passed.

If you or your employees suspect they are infected with a virus or bug, they need to stay at home for at least 48hrs to monitor their symptoms and prevent further spread.

Sick Days

Sick days are essential for treating the illness of your employee. It is very common for employees to come to work when they are feeling sick if they don’t have enough sick days or they think it is necessary to be present at work. Coming to work when sick will only delay the treatment and recovery time needed, as well as a big potential of spreading the illness. Approving enough sick days will help your employee get healthy quicker and prevent the spread to other employees, saving you from approving more sick days.

Working from Home

Many companies have transferred their business to work from home arrangement. This allows them to easily prevent the spread of viruses and germs, as there is not a large concentration of employees in a workspace. Working from home is a great opportunity for families to spend their time together, as many children and teens have transferred to homeschooling or online classes. Work from home, or WFH for short, can take some time to get used to but can give great benefits to the company and employees. If possible, try out this working arrangement for your team to help prevent the spread of viruses and illnesses. While working from home and quarantining, you should avoid seeing and being near other people, as well as your co-worker.

Workspace Supplies

There are many items and supplies needed in the time of a pandemic to keep the workspaces, as well as schools and homes as safe as possible. For the entrance to a building, outdoor mats are perfect for a quick disinfectant and cleaning of shoes. The toilets must always have enough toilet paper, as well as paper towels for drying hands. Inspect the toilets regularly to make sure everything is in working order. If possible, make the toilets private, or limit the number of people in a single toilet. In the kitchen and lounge area, use kitchen paper towels as well. Enough hand sanitizer and washing detergent should be provided in a kitchen. If you are producing meat or meals, always have multiple cutting boards for different types of food to avoid cross-contamination.

Since we spend the majority of our lives at work in an office, a healthy environment is of utmost importance for the wellbeing of your employees. Employees have to take care of their surroundings beside the regularly scheduled cleaning service, so they can keep up with the general hygiene of the space.  If there is a possible outbreak of a virus in your office building, consider transferring your employees to work from home. If one or more of your employees are sick, they are entitled to their sick leave days. They should as soon as possible do necessary tests to determine the type of illness and proper treatment. If an individual is feeling better, working from home can be an option for them until they recover enough.

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Stella Ryne

Stella Ryne is an art historian, writer, conscious consumer and a proud mother. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book.

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