As many offices are seeing the return of their workforce, it is important to remember that employers are bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect the health and safety of all employers as far that is reasonable and practical, as well as ensuring that the workplace is hygienic and safe.
Whether you have a small team or a large team, workplaces are a common ground for where germs are shared and bacteria can quickly spread from one person to another. With the presence of Coronavirus, hygiene within the workplace has never been more vital.
Germ ‘Hot Spots’
Germs rely on people to transfer them from one place to another. It is common for workspaces to have ‘hot spots’ when it comes to finding bacteria and germs. These are places such as surfaces, door handles, kitchen and toilet areas as well as work equipment.
It is now more important than ever to use hand sanitiser and wash hands on a regular basis to reduce the risk of cross contamination. You will find that most office equipment is shared such as the photocopier, printer, filing cabinets etc. Try and keep a pack of antibacterial wipes to use after each use.
By keeping office equipment clean reduces sickness and days off work. At the moment, it could even save lives.
Personal hygiene not only keeps the office clean and tidy but also gives a good impression about the company. Whether you have a dress code or not, staff should arrive clean and well dressed for work.
Not only does personal hygiene mean the way a person presents themselves. It can also be perceived by the way they present their workspace. A clean workplace ensures good health of all employees meaning they are less prone to contagious diseases and the spread of germ and bacteria.
Desks, computers and especially the keyboards are a common culprit for harbouring germs. Ensure that these are cleaned on a daily basis by giving them a wipe over at the end of each day to avoid bacteria building up.
Ensuring your office washrooms are kept clean is essential as this is where most germs can spread from.
It is important to make sure the washrooms are well stocked with soap, toilet paper, hand drying facilities along with wipes and hand sanitiser. When it comes to hand drying, this is crucial as wet hands can easily spread bacteria. Paper towels are the most effective as they dry hands quicker, remove bacteria and are less likely to lead to cross contamination.
Washrooms should be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are clean and well stocked. Any spillages should be wiped or mopped up using antibacterial products to kill the bacteria.
It is also worth considering displaying notices to prompt staff to practice personal hygiene after using the washrooms.
The kitchen workspace can be a high health risk if standards of cleanliness are not implemented. Areas which are used for food or drink preparation should be kept clean as well as kitchen appliances such as fridges, microwaves and toasters.
As the kitchen will be used by most staff, it may be helpful to place a checklist within the kitchen area to ensure all members of staff are adhering to the rules.
It may be worth noting that employees are entitled to complain if there is a lack of maintenance and poor kitchen hygiene, which can create a health risk. As an employer, you are best to encourage your staff to take on some of the responsibility to protect themselves and others.
Coronavirus is the biggest health and safety challenge many employers have ever had to face. Here at Project Gleam, we are happy to support businesses of all sizes and advise them what measures should be put in place to protect staff. We can create tailored assessments and work with you to support you through Covid-19.