A recent study by Harris and cited by EHS Today found that 81% of Americans have seen someone doing something gross in the workplace. The most common answer was someone wiping his or her runny nose on that person’s own hands or sleeves. The second most common was not covering one’s mouth when sneezing.
Workplaces where employees follow good hygiene practices bear a smaller chance of having sick workers making other people in the office ill.
“While workplaces are full of poor hygiene habits, their frequency tends to increase around cold and flu season,” said Dave Mesko, senior director of marketing for Cintas, a uniform company. “To reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria, businesses need to increase cleaning frequencies and encourage employees to practice proper hand hygiene to keep them from getting sick in the first place.”
Best practices for keeping illness at bay
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the many things managers can do to make sure people don’t get sick is to establish safety and health goals. For example, bringing in an expert to talk about the flu or having a nurse giving people the flu shot are both ways to reduce illness. Another way to help lower the number of sick days in the office is to make sure people know that taking a day off is all right in the first place. When people don’t use their sick leave, then they are working at a time when they are most vulnerable to giving workers illnesses.
Workers can do their part by reporting their illnesses to management, along with following best practices for keeping sickness out of the office. This may include wiping one’s runny nose on tissue paper that is thrown away, washing hands regularly and being sure to cover one’s mouth during a sneeze.
Safety and Health Magazine explained that people should sneeze into the crook of their elbows; to avoid getting germs onto one’s hands. This way if someone has to shake another person’s hand, germs won’t be passed on. Another rule of thumb that could be brought into an office is to isolate potentially sick people to a minimum distance of six feet away from other people. Additionally, it may be a good idea to have disinfecting wipes that can be used to clean desks of germs.