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Ways to Stop the Spread of Infection at Work During the Winter Season
Winter is fast approaching as the trees shed their leaves, nights draw in and the prospect of those dreaded colds and sniffles loom on the horizon. There’s no doubt that infections during the cold winter months can have a huge impact on sickness and absence in many businesses across the UK.
With over 80% of infections transmitted by touch, it’s difficult to avoid getting an infection, especially if you work in a busy, overcrowded office. Here are some simple tips to minimize the risks as we head towards the Festive Season and beyond:
- Promote good hygiene: Regular handwashing can ensure that infections are less easily spread. Provide the right facilities for doing so with clean washrooms and good soap in stock. Whilst it might seem that you are treating your employees like children make sure that handwashing is encouraged and the proper technique used.
- Hand sanitizers: You see them more often in hospitals where visitors are encouraged to squirt some sanitizing gel and rub it into their hands. There is no reason why you shouldn’t have these installed at strategic points in the office. They are an inexpensive and relatively successful way to cut down on the transmission of infections.
- A thorough cleaning strategy: Making sure appliances such as keyboards and desktops are given a thorough hygienic clean on a regular basis makes a big difference. Viruses and bacteria can hang around for a while and lead to the spread of infections. That doesn’t just include desktops but storage areas and changing rooms too. Make sure that staff are aware of restricting their movements and what they touch if they have an infection.
- Sending staff home: They might feel brave for struggling into work but staff who have a flu bug or an infection like the norovirus should really be at home. If they are in the office infecting other people, you are going to lose more time to sickness and absence and it’s a false economy.
- Have adequate ventilation: Yes, it can be difficult in the winter months but having the air moving around is much better than a stuffy office where infections have the chance to hang around.
It pays to have a strategy in place for infection control that all staff are aware of, particularly in the winter months when colds and viruses are more prevalent. If someone coughs, for instance, then they shouldn’t be spluttering it all across the office – use a tissue to catch all that airborne infection rather than giving it to everyone else and then place your tissue in a covered bin.
People who are coughing and sneezing a lot should really be sent home. Employees may well be reluctant to leave the office, especially if they have a large workload. There are, of course, facilities nowadays for many of us to work at home and keep up with the pace but the main focus should always be on limiting the risk of infection to other employees.