Creating a healthy workplace

Creating a healthy workplace

It’s not the equipment you use, the services you employ or even the building you occupy. It’s about protecting your most valuable asset – the people who make your workplace function and move your business forward.

Whether it’s an office, factory, workshop or outdoors, it is now more important than ever to have a clean, hygienic workspace to support employee health and well-being. Creating a healthier workplace through enhanced care and protection elevates the work experience and brings out the best in your employees.

It’s also about limiting the spread of germs, especially in high-traffic areas. Handwashing with soap remains an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives; 94% of consumers surveyed by Kimberly-Clark Professional say they are washing or sanitising their hands more than they did before the pandemic.

This measure is absolutely paramount. Kimberly-Clark highlights that, in the span of 24 hours, the average adult touches 7 200 surfaces and touches their face 552 times. While practising excellent hand hygiene is the responsibility of every individual, it is up to facility managers to provide the means for them to do so.

But, just as buildings and facilities are equipped for specific functions, hand-hygiene systems can vary in utility and performance. Selecting the right system requires various considerations, such as the hygiene needs of the facility, budget, operational efficiency, product compatibility and brand familiarity. Investing in desirable and convenient hygiene infrastructure and products is likely to sustain the increased hand-hygiene practices. It is also a visible indicator of the level of investment companies are making in their building and their people. Some 84% of consumers view familiar brands as an important signal of a clean and hygienic environment.

If you haven’t already done so, consider installing the latest electronic or touchless dispensing solutions. When this is not feasible, ensure increased, effective surface cleaning and disinfecting.

Focus on high-traffic areas like entryways, hallways, breakrooms and production areas and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and doors, handrails, machinery, desks, chairs and shared office equipment like coffee machines and printers. Clean and disinfect these surfaces several times during the workday. The idea is to target hotspots where germs can thrive.

The guidance from the World Health Organization is to use a two-step clean and disinfect process. The first step is to clean the surface with a detergent or soap and water. Then, disinfect the surface using an appropriate, registered disinfectant, following the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact time.

While it’s employees’ responsibility to clean and sanitise their hands frequently and thoroughly, you must provide them with the means to do so, including hand soap, hand sanitiser, dispensers and more. Soap and water can be made available in washrooms and at sinks, while hand sanitiser should be placed in high-traffic areas. And while there’s a renewed sense of global attention towards hand washing, the way hands are dried matters too – particularly when people don’t wash effectively.

Minimise the number of airborne germs in your facility by providing paper towels instead of air dryers. Research by leading microbiologists from the University of Westminster in the UK found that using a jet air dryer dispersed 1 300 times more germs than drying with paper towels. Drying one’s hands with a single-use paper towel is the safest way to reduce the spread of viruses after a visit to the washroom, because the rubbing process of paper towels physically removes bacteria along with moisture.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world’s mindset about personal health and well-being,” says Kristel Dreyer, associate marketing manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional South Africa. “It is important for businesses to implement stringent hygiene protocols and investigate more effective ways to ensure adequate hygiene measures across their operations. Consider contacting a professional to evaluate your requirements and guide you to achieve the level of hygiene your facility needs.”

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SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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