The workplace is a hotbed for illness and disease, mostly because of germs that get spread around constantly. It is not uncommon or surprising, since co-workers are often touching the same things, like microwave oven doors, refrigerators, doorknobs, and copy machines. Luckily, by following a few simple steps, you can decrease the spreading of germs in your office and help keep sickness away from your employees.
Cleaning Work Surfaces
Start by keeping all work surfaces cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. Common rooms spread the most germs because everyone is using the same items. In the kitchen, all employees use the same toaster, microwave, refrigerator and chairs. Every time they touch an item, germs spread. Clean these areas often, using sanitizing wipes to clean germs left behind. Provide plenty of soap and sanitizer in kitchen and bathroom areas encourages employees to use it.
Hand Washing Policy
While the hope is that all employees wash their hands, developing a strict hand washing policy helps even further. Make sure employees understand proper hand washing, such as using warm water and soap every time, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to remove the germs from their hands. Have paper towels handy at all times and post handwashing reminders in all common rooms. It is also a good idea to have hand sanitizers available throughout the workplace.
Let Sick Employees Stay Home
The start of nasty germs in the workplace begins with one sick employee. If you have an employee complaining of a cold or other illness that involves contagious germs, encourage them stay home. In some cases, it might be possible to have them work remotely from home, depending on what their job is. Otherwise, have other employees pick up the slack so they can stay at home an extra day. This is a big step toward decreasing a contagious illness from being spread in the workplace.
Developing Healthy Habits
In general, help employees develop healthy habits in the workplace. This includes wiping down work surfaces, washing their hands, using sanitizer and not working when they are sick. Avoiding close contact with anyone showing signs of illness, and keeping their own belongings at their desk and not sharing are also good for preventing illness. Remind employees to cover their mouth when coughing and sneezing, even if the reminder seems silly. These reminders keep illness and germs from spreading.
Aside from working to reduce germs being spread in your office, also make sure you and your employees are well protected with workers’ compensation insurance. If an employee gets a serious illness at work, such as pneumonia, their medical costs are covered with workers’ comp. This helps encourage employees to stay home when they are seriously ill.