Dirty Little Workplace Secrets
Since its flu and cold season, this is a good time to talk about workplace germs, housekeeping and hygiene practices that can help prevent the spread of illness. We spend 8 to 12 hours a day in workplaces with germs that could be making you and your employees sick.
Researcher Dr. John Anderson says that germs travel through the workplace in several ways:
Dr. Anderson recommends a proactive approach to germ control at work. This means assuming that everyone is potentially infectious, the environment is dirty, workers aren't using personal hygiene practices, and the maintenance crew isn't doing a thorough job.
Effective Germ Control
“Hand washing is the key to effective germ control”, says Anderson. Hands should be washed thoroughly with water and soap for at least 15 seconds (most people don't wash long enough) after using the bathroom, before and after preparing food, or after touching people and using equipment.
Other essential germ control steps include:
Wash, Wipe, and Sanitize
Kimberly-Clark's Healthy Workplace Project, which is about 2 years old, offers employers a bundle of products and education about workplace cleanliness. It is based on the idea that breaking the germ transmission cycle involves three healthy habits—wash, wipe, and sanitize. The program encourages washing hands; wiping down surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other commonly touched items; and placing hand sanitizers in heavily trafficked areas of the workplace.
Pilot project results suggest that such steps could deliver an 80 percent reduction in the probability of contracting cold and flu. Tested surfaces were 62 percent cleaner than those not treated. Kimberly-Clark also found that 80 percent of employees felt better about their employer as a result of participating in the program.