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Workplace Hygiene Tips to Keep Employees Healthy


| By Natasha Dragun | January 15, 2021

Whatever industry you're in, maintaining high standards of workplace hygiene as businesses reopen is essential to keep customers and staff safe and healthy.

Workplace hygiene is essential to keep staff and customers healthy and happy.

As COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions ease across Australia, many small businesses are transitioning employees back to the workplace – whether that’s an office space, restaurant, retail outlet, warehouse or something entirely different. Having your employees return, and re-welcoming customers, requires careful planning including implementing comprehensive procedures around workplace hygiene to ensure everyone’s safety and health.

While every industry and business brings individual challenges – from adequate space for social distancing in retail outlets, to reimagining hot-desking, to monitoring elevator occupancy – all face similar concerns. How best to protect those involved in the business, and where to begin? These tips will help you maintain high safety standards across your business.

Behind the Scenes

Regardless of business type, employers and business owners must establish a risk assessment process to monitor potential workplace hazards. This is an ongoing activity, with industry-specific frequency of checks, analysis and reporting. In many cases, any change to the business’s work activities requires the procedures to be reviewed. Safe Work Australia has created a four-step risk assessment process that shows you how to:

1) Identify hazards;

2) Assess risks;

3) Control risks; and

4) Review hazards and control methods.

Entering the Workspace

Offer hand sanitiser throughout the workplace to keep everyone in good health

Whether you run an office or retail outlet, gym or café, it’s a good idea to provide antibacterial hand sanitiser stations throughout your workplace – particularly at the entrance, to set a good base for workplace hygiene. Set up signs encouraging anyone entering or exiting to use the sanitiser and choose a viscous and quick-drying product to avoid drips, splashes and usage delays.

Recommendations on mask wearing in public spaces and workspaces vary over time and from state to state, so ensure your business keeps up to date and checks Work Safe Australia and the Australian Government Department of Health to see if they recommend employees in your industry wear a mask in the workplace. Or you, as an employer, may decide to mandate this – for instance if your industry is high-risk or if social distancing is impossible – then you may want to supply high-grade surgical masks to employees. If mask-wearing regulations vary by workspace in your facility, let staff know by posting signs.

A great way to ensure everyone entering your workspace is healthy is to use an infrared contactless thermometer to take temperatures with neither touch nor the ensuing requirement to sanitise between uses – just point and read. You're looking for a normal body temperature of around 36-37°C.

What To Try

At Each Desk

Wipe down surfaces regularly for optimal workplace hygiene

Keeping workspaces clean is especially important if you use hot-desking or if multiple people frequent a single workspace, such as a reception area or cash register. Have hospital-grade spray disinfectant and disposable paper towels readily available so your employees can nix germs before work by wiping down surfaces such as a desk, computer screen, register, phone or door handle. Why not establish handy “safety stations” stocked with these products, along with disinfectant wipes, which are easy to grab and use on surfaces and equipment at short notice?

What To Try

Keeping Shared Kitchens Safe

If you have a small kitchenette or kitchen space, consider putting limits on the number of people permitted in the area at any given time. In fact, your state health department may mandate these. In addition to regular professional cleaning, encourage employees to get involved in maintaining hygiene standards in these shared areas. Steps such as washing dishes straight after use, rather than leaving them in the sink, and wiping down surfaces immediately with high-grade disinfectant and disposable paper towels are simple, effective ways to keep high-traffic spaces spic-and-span – and germ-free.

What To Try

At the Checkout, Public Spaces and in Meeting Rooms

Don’t forget about heavy-traffic areas like reception when arranging workplace hygiene procedures.

In addition to the spray, towels and wipes, it’s a good idea to have antibacterial hand sanitiser available around areas that have heavy foot traffic – at a cash register, reception, retail showroom, meeting rooms or restaurant floor. This benefits both customers and employees, who may be handling products and heavily handled cash.

For an additional layer of protection at checkouts or service desks, install protective screens as a physical barrier between staff and customers/visitors/delivery people to maintain hygiene standards at the point of contact. If you have regular visitors and queues, help them understand what 1.5 metres apart looks like by adding adhesive social-distancing markers to the floor. These are also handy in meeting rooms to recommend chair locations.

What To Try

Frequently Touched Surfaces

Above and beyond all the spacing, make sure you have cleaning supplies – like disinfectant wet wipes – on hand to clean frequently touched spaces, from door handles to benchtops, air-con controls to light switches.

In Shared Bathrooms

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s to wash our hands well. Make a good liquid hand soap available – even better if it’s an automatic dispenser – for bathrooms that receive employee and customer traffic. Use a well-placed wall sign to remind visitors how long and often to wash their hands. Opt for hand dryers or disposable paper towels and dispensers over washable cloth towels, particularly if you have a large number of people using the shared bathroom. Durable paper towels are also a great way to keep bathroom spaces germ-free – again, encourage your employees to help by wiping down surfaces after use, with a spritz of disinfectant spray.

What To Try

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