January 2020 has been a hodgepodge of global shocks, none more shocking than the recent outbreak of the coronavirus.  Whilst global and national authorities have called for calm and composure in the wake of this novel virus, there’s been a spike in the dissemination of guidance for improved hygiene in order to prevent the spreading of the virus (and any other infections, for that matter).

Persons working in dense environments are susceptible to pass around contagious infections (such as colds or flu, most especially when it’s cold out).  Infection and cross-contamination may naturally come from indirect contact too, such as transmission via physical contact with items which regularly change hands.

Whether in the midst of a viral outbreak or even if the weather just suddenly turns chilly, it’s recommended to inform your employees of measures they can take to mitigate cross-contamination and infecting each other.  First off, if employees feel poorly, they should feel encouraged to stay home and get better, rather than contaminating an entire workforce – prevention is better than cure (context: 1 sick-leave absence is better than 10).

For those employees who are still fit and able, ensure that they are encouraged (and ultimately feel obliged) to practice good hygiene by regularly washing hands.  Ensure that bathrooms are well equipped with enough soap and paper towels (despite their environmental benefits, regular towels would defeat the purpose).  Employees should also be encouraged to carry (and use) anti-bacterial sanitiser – you may also place dispensers in certain common areas of the workplace, especially in areas where hand-to-object contact is inevitable (such as staircases, lifts, bathrooms, entrances/exits).  Keeping one’s workstation clean and tidy should also be encouraged – the build up of piles of papers or discarded items may, over time, fester germs and bacteria which prove detrimental to one’s health.  The provision of anti-bacterial wipes might encourage this.

Whilst employees should be encouraged to care for their own hygiene, as well as that of their colleagues, employers must also ensure that the workplace is regularly kept contamination-free.  It is therefore recommended to plan regular deep cleaning by professionals.  As time goes by, dirt might settle, embed and build itself up.  A professional scrubbing would therefore help avoid any settling infections.  Such deep cleans may also prove essential in the case of an outbreak at the workplace, which situation must be treated with the utmost care and diligence.

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