Offices are breeding grounds for germs. Why do you think everybody has colds and bugs all the time? We’re literally passing the same germs around, and our unsavoury habits don’t help matters.

From not washing our hands, to digging into communal snacks, to coming in even when we’re contagious – there are plenty of reasons why you’re more likely to get ill from working in an office.

Luckily, there are some quick fixes to help limit your exposure to germs and keep you fighting fit. Here are some tips on avoiding the office lurgy…

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Wash your hands

Effective hand-washing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of infection. So it is incredibly important to regularly clean your hands and disinfect common contact points such as your phone and keyboard.

The most important thing to remember is to keep dirty fingers away from your face. This is key. Don’t underestimate the impact of hand hygiene to help stop the spread of viruses and other germs.

It’s also so important to use soap and warm water when you wash your hands. A trickle of cold water and wiping them off on a hand towel just won’t cut it. Making a generous lather of soap in your hands, rubbing vigorously and rinsing the soap off well with warm water. It’s an extra 20 seconds out of your day.

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Good personal hygiene

A high level of hygiene should be encouraged in all workplaces, and it helps to lead from the top. Senior staff must set an example, and promote this as the unwavering daily routine. Involve the team in any health or hygiene decisions, and don’t forget to ask their opinion on what is lacking in their environment. This could flag issues that otherwise may have been missed, which would ultimately be a detriment to occupational hygiene.

Keep tissues and hand santiser nearby

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser – one that contains at least 60% alcohol. It won’t remove all kinds of germs, but it can instantly lower the number of germs on your hands, meaning you’re less likely to get sick. Covering your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and immediately throwing it away is another important way to stop the spread of nasty bugs.

Tidying tools

In work, it is helpful to take measures to limit day-to-day germ exposure to staff and provide them with the necessary tools to keep themselves clean and healthy. Hand soap, running water and something suitable to dry your hands on are all legal requirements.

Everybody benefits from a clean and tidy environment, and feminine and nappy disposal are all encouraged as best practice, particularly if the general public visit your workplace. Share the load that a truly clean office with fewer germs can only be achieved if everyone is pulling their weight.

The responsibility can’t just fall to one person. Promote a caring environment within the workplace. Especially in open-plan offices, or those that have a lot of contract with the general public, occupational hygiene is something that should be adopted as an essential routine for all employees.

Look after the health of fellow colleagues by keeping an eye on cleanliness and tidiness, after all it’s much nicer and safer to work in a clean, tidy and germ-free environment. Try to avoid looking at maintaining a hygienic and tidy workplace as a chore, but more as looking out for each other, and part of the job.

Disinfect communal items

In open-plan offices, sharing keyboards, phones and desk spaces can be commonplace – but you can’t guarantee that the person who used the computer before you had clean hands. Make sure you’re disinfecting these things using wipes or a spray, on a regular basis. And try to limit how much you have to share your space and your office equipment.

Source: MetroUK