5 tips on how to maintain hygiene in the workplace

Most viruses (including SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19) are mainly spread by exposure of the respiratory mucous to virus-containing droplets, which are produced by an infected person and released through certain activities such as speaking, coughing, or sneezing.

As a safeguard, a mask can be worn by an infected individual, which will prevent secretions being released. This will protect others who may be within the vicinity. However, an individual who is infected can still easily spread contamination when applying, adjusting, or removing their mask. It is for this reason that strict hygiene habits are also important to minimising spread and the protection of others.

Tip 1: Direct employees and visitors to practice proper hand washing

This involves appropriate reminders (signage) at hand washing stations on the key steps of effective hand washing technique which includes using soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them completely with single-use paper towels or electric hand dryers.

Tip 2: Issue protective equipment appropriate to type of occupation

There are many occupations that have a higher likelihood of encountering potential or known carriers of a virus, and hence, wearing masks and eye protection is appropriate. These are identified when occupational tasks involve interacting with the community and limited ability to distance from members of the public. In medical settings for instance, where practitioners are in close vicinity to these individuals, additional measures are taken to protect themselves from exposure (especially of the eyes). An example of this is a face shield or safety goggles.

Tip 3: Use more effective hand sanitiser

Studies conducted in hospitals have revealed that some bacteria are alcohol tolerant and can also withstand other commonly used sanitiser ingredients. Most sanitisers often contain 60% alcohol, however at least 70% is required to effectively combat resistant bacteria. This important insight means that most sanitisers are not ideal.

Tip 4: Ensure good air ventilation

Some environmental factors can also contribute to greater spread of viruses, such as poor ventilation (where air is not adequately being replaced). Ensuring good air ventilation requires air is getting replaced frequently with fresh air and air is being pushed or blown away from people within the space.

Tip 5: Implement a thorough cleaning routine

Certain disinfectant chemicals are required to eliminate infectious germs from surfaces. Using approved disinfectant along with the appropriate materials, methods, and frequencies can be ensured by implementing a cleaning routine that is appropriate for the specific workplace. The routine should also consider increased cleaning frequency for items that are shared or spaces with higher traffic.

For a detailed guide on cleaning procedures please visit Safe Work Australia.

Sources

The use of face masks and respirators in the context of COVID-19 – Australian Government Department of Health