Most of us know what it’s like to feel unwell and we hate being sick. As an employer or HR manager, being responsible for the health and well-being of our team has become big business. There has been an explosion of new schemes and services by health, fitness and wellness companies to help keep us in better shape physically and mentally. But what can we do in practical terms to reduce the risk of sickness spreading in our workplaces once it starts?
We’ve set out our five golden rules for preventing and reducing workplace infection.
1) Encourage and practice good hand hygiene. We know this sounds like a pretty basic one but we can’t stress this point enough. The biggest cause of infection control in workplaces is poor hand hygiene. Placing signs at bathroom and kitchen sinks help remind our teams to wash and placing a hand sanitiser in high traffic areas such as in communal entrances or outside canteens can also help increase awareness.
2) Keep each other informed! Get staff to notify you when they’re sick. They say knowledge is power and if you don’t know someone on your team has a bug or a cold – how can you prevent it spreading? Also if your team know they’re at risk of infection there’s a higher chance they will take greater care with hygiene.
3) Carry out high touch point cleaning when there’s an outbreak. So what happens if someone on your team get the flu or winter vomiting bug? Get your cleaning contractor or in house cleaner to spend some time sanitising high touch points after they’ve finished their regular cleaning. Doing this daily can drastically reduce the number of people put at risk by the infection.
4) Don’t cross contaminate. Ensure your cleaning team are using separate cloths for cleaning washroom sinks and toilets. Ensure that where possible the International cleaning colour coding rules are applied.
5) Measure and Review. Keep a record of the illness and absenteeism rates. If you measure weekly, check that the procedures you’ve put in place are having a positive impact. If they’re not, review the frequency of cleaning, sanitising and other action items and increase them if needed. As employers, we need our teams functioning at the highest capacities – infection related sickness can very often be prevented so it’s up to all of us to do our bit.