During the Autumn and Winter months, colds and flu becomes a huge problem, especially at the workplace. We spend a large chunk of our lives at the office and it’s no great surprise that when colleagues get sick, we most probably do too.
Yet aside from the obvious spread of germs and infections from person to person, the office is also a place where illnesses and injuries are common due to a number of other hidden factors.
Often, neglect and poor cleanliness can contribute to ailments that are easily preventable whilst carelessness can have disastrous consequences. So if you run a business where your team of staff are spending hours upon hours burning the midnight oil whilst eating, congregating and sometimes even sleeping at the office, here’s a number of factors to consider to make your working environment a much healthier and safer one.
Every year, staff sickness costs the UK economy an eye-watering £12 million in lost revenues. So, unless it’s absolutely critical, tell a sick worker to stay home until they feel better. The fact is, germs spread incredibly fast in offices. One study by The University of Arizona’s Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Centre found that if one employee has a virus at 8am, that same virus will have spread to 80% of the office employees by lunchtime!
Even if members of staff do not share the same room as the person feeling unwell, this rarely makes much difference. A simple spread of germs on door knobs, keyboards, mice, and other surfaces is all it takes to have your team all reaching for the tissues and before you know it, multiple staff sick days.
By ensuring sick staff stay home before it spreads, you eliminate the real probability of having a large percentage of your team out of action, which will cost you a great deal more in the long run.
Ensure your office has plenty of sanitisers and hand cleansers in areas where hand washing and clean ups are necessary. Toilets, kitchen areas and places where food is prepared and eaten are key. Most importantly off all, ensure hand drying is highly encouraged as germs form on wet hands far more easily than dry.
The office can quickly become a hazardous environment if neglect sets in. So make sure you keep a good stock of paper towels on hand to wipe up small messes, especially in areas where floors can become slippery.
If your office develops leaks or large continuous spills, report this to your facilities management team immediately so they can deal with it swiftly. Left unrepaired, they can quickly lead to mould developing or longer term damage which will become an operationally expensive issue.
Offices can quickly develop a build up boxes, cables and objects that get placed in hazardous and potentially very dangerous areas. Proper storage of loose items should be a priority to prevent any potential disasters, and boxes should always be stored away from high traffic areas or places where they can become an accident waiting to happen.
If your business uses tools or sharp objects, implement a strict plan of using organisers and proper stowage. Avoidable accidents such as cuts and gouges occur often at the workplace when sharp implements like scissors or knives are unwittingly hidden or obscured under paperwork, cloths or simply left on ledges. A simple careless act can lead to a hospital visit.
Office desks harvest some of the largest quantities of germs and bacteria around. The spread of germs can take place without your staff ever coming into contact with each other. Desk surfaces, keyboards, mice, telephones, photocopiers and other office equipment are hotbeds for germs, with the average desk having around 20,000 different bacteria – that’s 400 times more than the average toilet seat.
So ensure you conduct regular deep cleans of your desks and computer equipment, especially if you hot desk or desks are shared with multiple staff members at any given time.