At home, we’re in charge of cleanliness and hygiene. We decide how often to clean the kitchen and bathroom and what hygiene rules to put in place.
In the workplace, however, much of this is out of our hands. We’re reliant on employers and managers to ensure our health and safety.
Here are three ways in which the workplace influences our health and what employers can do to ensure workplace hygiene:
1. Mental Health
Our workplace has a huge impact on our mental health. Scientific studies have shown that the cleaner and less cluttered our space, the better we feel. So if your desk is overflowing with papers and your computer is covered in dust, it’s unlikely to promote positive feelings. Equally, we thrive in environments with lots of natural light and maybe a few pot plants too.
This all means that offices should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly. Clean windows let in more natural light. Clean desk spaces allow us to feel organised and motivated. Well-cared for plants help us to feel energised. And feeling a sense of pride in our workspace and motivation for the work we do is all that contributes to us feeling mentally strong and healthy.
Any indoor space where lots of people gather has the potential to spread illness. Colleagues who have a virus may sneeze and cough without covering their mouth. Or fail to wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom. This means that germs are spread throughout the office.
Just think of all the things we touch in the workplace day after day – our computer keyboard and mouse, door handles, elevator buttons, the kettle in the office kitchen – the list is endless. Viruses and bacteria can live on surfaces for a significant period of time, allowing them to be spread around the office and to other colleagues.
Only regular cleaning and good personal hygiene can keep these bugs under wraps. When an office is properly cleaned, we don’t find ourselves constantly battling with illness. We take fewer days off sick and are able to work with improved productivity, which is a good thing both for us and our employers.
Another way in which workplace hygiene affects our health can be attributed to dirty and slippery floors. It can be very easy to slip and fall on a floor that isn’t properly cared for. Maybe it’s a rainy day and floors have become wet. Or maybe there’s been a spillage in the kitchen that hasn’t been properly cleaned up.
Slipping on a dirty floor can lead to pulled muscles and, in some cases, broken bones. Both injuries require considerable recovery time. As a result, it’s really important that someone is on hand throughout the day to address workplace health and safety issues.
What Employers Can Do
Poor workplace hygiene can have a really detrimental effect on our health. That’s why companies should always employ a reliable team of cleaners, respond quickly to any health and safety concerns and encourage good personal hygiene amongst employees.
They should also consider their sickness policy – if they frown heavily upon anyone taking a day off sick, more sick people will drag themselves into the office, spreading their germs and increasing the health risk to other employees.
And, it goes without saying, employers need to facilitate good hygiene in the office. That means having enough soap by bathroom sinks, regularly changing the towels that people dry their hands on, maintaining a good supply of clean kitchen cloths and looking elsewhere for office space when the current accommodation just won’t come up to scratch.
To keep workplace hygiene high we don’t need to buy expensive equipment or lay down restrictions or rules. All that is need is a little bit of awareness and good will. That’s all what’s needed to stay healthy in a workplace.