It’s National Handwashing Awareness Week. Everyone knows that handwashing is key to prevent the spread of germs. This is especially important in the workplace. The Workforce Institute reports that workplace absenteeism rates range from five to ten percent. This means that at any point in time up to one out of 10 employees is missing from work due to illness.
American workers can spend hours every day in close contact with others in the workplace. This can include sharing the kitchen, meeting/office space, and IT equipment (e.g., computers, copiers, phones, etc.). All touch points for germs.
With cold and flu season picking up in December, people are at greater risk of getting sick this time of year. To that end, in addition to regular hand washing, here are three Quality of LifeHacks to help prevent the spread of gems at work.
- Know your soaps. Did you know that the FDA ruled earlier this year that anti-bacterial soap is no more effective than plain soap and water? Additionally, countless people rely on hand sanitizer but the FDA is also looking into its effectiveness. At the end of day, good old-fashioned handwashing for 20 seconds with soap and water is the most effective way to keep your hands clean and germ free.
- Clean IT equipment. If employees regularly share computer equipment, it’s important to keep them clean. The Today Show reports that computer keyboards can have more germs than a public toilet! CNet offers these tips to clean your laptop. Also consider keeping electronic wipes available at shared IT equipment, such as the copier and printer.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home. While 10 percent of employees may miss work at any point in time due to illness, many others will still come into work while sick. A study of working adults in the U.S. by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the majority of workers will go into work sick “always” or “most of the time” when they have a cold or the flu. It’s important to encourage sick employees to stay home. The CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends without the use of medication.
What are your workplace’s best practices for preventing the spread of germs at work? Share in the comments section below.