Hygiene, Safety, Productivity and Avoiding Fines
Written by GJK Facility Services Director, Strategic Relationships, Kristiana Greenwood
The basic principals of good personal hygiene are embedded in our psyche from a very early age – make sure you wash your hands when you’ve been to the bathroom or before eating, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, shower regularly and so on. Fortunately most people take those early learnings into the workplace, but what about the workplace itself – how do staff react to their environment within the office or physical location where they work? Many employees are oblivious to the fact that their workstations, especially their desks, are a common breeding ground for germs and bacteria. The average office desk contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat! It is up to the employer to make sure these hidden contaminants are removed to keep staff safe.
Good hygiene affects the wellness of people both physically and mentally. Hygiene is a measure of people’s way of life. No one wants to be sick, apart from feeling awful it could also lead to a loss of income for some, as well as cost the Australian economy billions of dollars in health expenditure and lost productivity. In Australia we are fortunate as we have good general public hygiene measures such as the removal of waste and safe water in our cities. However, if spaces are not cleaned regularly then an unhygienic workplace packed with bacteria means that everybody in the office is a potential carrier of a disease. For example, the flu virus can cause human infection for 24 hours after being deposited on a hard surface and a virus can spread from one doorknob to 50% of workers, visitors and objects within 3 hours. Effective hygiene practices and proper use of quality products are essential to maintain good standards of personal, home, public and industrial hygiene.
The importance of good mental health cannot be under-estimated and high-quality hygiene practices can help employees feel good in their skin, giving them confidence and helping them to be engaged and productive in all areas of work and life. It also means that they will be far less likely to change their job and will remain loyal to their employer. Employees represent the company they work for and ensuring their safety and wellbeing will reflect on the business itself.
It’s not just about the people however, it’s also about the success of a business. How many times have you gone into a hotel room or sat on a train and immediately picked up on a corner that has been missed or a hair that is on the pillow or seat? That first impression is a lasting one and poor hygiene can create a negative impression for a business – that hotel will not be first choice again and an unhappy customer on a train can cause customer service some serious headaches. A client is unlikely to take a company seriously if they are not keeping their offices in order and cleaned to the highest of standards. Workplace cleanliness and hygiene really does reflect a company’s core values.
With good hygiene comes improved safety. Dirty spaces increase the chance of accidents such as slips, trip and falls. Building owners are particularly vulnerable when it comes to ensuring common and public spaces are kept clean to the highest standards not just to prevent injury, but to avoid regulatory non-compliance in the workplace which can cost an owner massive financial penalties and even jail time if serious enough.
Psychology says humans are wired to be repulsed by dirty spaces, we know it can lead to disease and make us feel unwell, there is an expression which describes it perfectly ‘in sickness and in filth’. Even though we would rather not reflect on 2020 there is no doubt that we have learnt a lot from the pandemic and understand the importance of engaging in the right hygiene practices & processes as well as engaging with reputable service providers to ensure the wellbeing of staff, customers and the flow on to their families.