It may seem obvious that hygiene in the workplace is a necessity. It can restrict the growth and spread of germs, keep employees from getting sick, and make the workplace a pleasant and healthy environment. This contributes to the wellbeing of staff members.
Three Areas of Hygiene at Work
There are three areas in the workplace milieu where good hygiene is critical. In the kitchen, poor hygiene can result in the contamination of food and the spread of harmful bacteria. This can result in an outbreak of food poisoning affecting one or more of your employees.
The second area where hygiene matters is in the work area. While you will have an office cleaner who is either an employee or a company that this function has been outsourced to, individual employees are also required to maintain acceptable standards of hygiene in the areas assigned to them. This could involve rules such as not eating at their desks or storing food in drawers. Clean hands will ensure that files and equipment are not dirtied or have germs transferred to them.
The third area for hygiene is in the bathrooms, where our main focus is.
Spell it Out in a Hygiene Policy
It is vital that your company has a written hygiene policy. This ensures that the rules and consequences of breaking them are clear. A policy makes the point that management is serious about workplace hygiene. All four areas of workplace hygiene must be covered in the policy document. Additionally, posters should be placed throughout the office, kitchen, and bathrooms to remind staff of their obligations.
What Employers Need to Provide
Having a policy is pointless unless management also plays its role. Bathrooms should be properly stocked with the necessary items to promote cleanliness. This includes bins for sanitary items, which are a legal requirement in the UK. Industrial skin care products, toilet paper, and soap must be provided. Hand driers and paper or cloth towels must be placed in bathrooms for drying hands after washing. Cloth items need to be laundered and replaced frequently. Depending on the number of employees using a bathroom, this could well be several times a day. This may make other options more practical and hygienic.
Provision for Regular Cleaning
Bathrooms must be cleaned several times a day as employees use them constantly. Employers can hire a cleaner for their premises and provide a job description that outlines duties and frequencies. The other option is to outsource the function. If you outsource the cleaning role, you still need to do inspections. It is essential to ensure that bathrooms are actually being cleaned properly and according to an agreed schedule. While contracted services will have a supervisor that monitors their employees, you need to make sure standards are being maintained and that the environment is indeed clean.
Employees are more likely to practice good hygiene if management ensures a clean environment, has a policy in place, indicates that hygiene is a priority, and supplies the necessary products in sufficient quantities.