How To Preserve Personal Hygiene & Stay Safe At Work
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Jul 03, 2020
With lockdown measures being eased in most parts of the country, some of us are back to work and others are anticipating a quick return too. While the prospect of resuming work has never been more welcome, it’s also terrifying. After all, returning to your workplace means that you will have little control over your surroundings and can be exposed to a variety of germs. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, we are all too aware about the risk of infections. Social distancing remains your best defense against COVID-19 infection when you return to work, but it’s not all that you can do. Personal hygiene remains vital to preventing almost all types of infections and it is well within your control. Yes, even when you are at your workplace.
7 Steps to Personal Hygiene at Your Workplace
Wash Your Hands Regularly
Whether or not we are in the midst of a pandemic, hand washing is a basic necessity for personal hygiene. A wide variety of pathogens can be transferred through contact with contaminated surfaces that we frequently come in contact with. These can include railings, handles, door knobs, elevator buttons, and so on. This makes it important for you to wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you enter your office and after you come in contact with any surface that has high traffic. Be sure to use the same hand washing technique that has been recommended for COVID-19 prevention – 20 seconds of washing with soap and water.
Use Hand Sanitizers
Hand sanitizers aren’t just helpful in hospitals or when you’re traveling. Sanitizers can be used to disinfect your hands quickly and effectively when you don’t have access to water or when you’re at your desk and simply can’t take a break to go wash up. Whether you travel by public transport or walk to work, it’s still a good idea to always have some hand sanitizer with you. While it’s true that chemical-based sanitizers can be harsh and frequent use may cause skin reactions, this is not the case with natural sanitizers. Our herbal hand sanitizer, HerboCleanse Plus is an excellent option as it uses antiseptic herbs to disinfect, while it also contains aloe extract to moisturize and soothe your skin.
Don't Eat at Your Desk
As a kid, your parents probably scolded you for eating in bed. That’s a lesson that you can also apply to your workstation or desk. Although most offices have pantries or designated eating areas, most workers tend to eat at their desks. Yes, snacking counts as eating at your desk too. Aside from the fact that food particles at your desk may increase the presence of germs, it is also a bad idea to eat at your desk because it is a bacterial hotspot. Research suggests that most workstation desks host about 21,000 bacteria per square inch! In comparison, a toilet seat tends to have fewer than 1,000 bacteria per square inch. So, if you wouldn’t eat in your toilet, you certainly shouldn’t eat at your desk.
Carry Set of Spare Clothes
This may sound tedious and unnecessary, but it really makes sense. Commuting in cities like Mumbai can test your endurance and commitment to personal hygiene. It’s hard to keep your clothes free from dust, dirt, grime, germs, and sweat when you’re traveling in crowded buses and trains. Unfortunately, most of us accept this reality and simply spend the working day in those dirty clothes. The most logical and hygienic solution is actually to carry or keep a set of spare clothes in the office. You could also use separate travel clothes and carry your work clothes along. This really isn’t far-fetched as it is precisely what cyclists and runners do if they are cycling or walking to work.
Maintain Pantry and Water Cooler Hygiene
Strict adherence to hygiene practices aren’t just beneficial to you, but will also ensure the safety of your colleagues. It also sets a good example to others and ultimately we all benefit from increased hygiene. Water coolers can become bacterial and viral hotspots if hygiene measures aren’t followed. Make sure to only operate faucets and buttons on the coolers after sanitizing and washing your hands. Avoid using shared glasses and be careful when taking disposable cups. Do so carefully and avoid touching or returning glasses that you don’t intend to use. This etiquette should also be followed in the pantry. Avoid touching plates, spoons, and other items that you don’t intend to use and always ensure that you have washed your hands first.
Personal hygiene may be something personal, but it’s a shared responsibility. Poor hygiene from one employee can jeopardize the health of every other employee. So, in addition to maintaining hygiene practices with these steps, make it a point to spread awareness about the importance of personal hygiene for disease prevention. Most importantly, be mindful of others and don’t go into work when you are sick.
- Arbogast, James W et al. “Impact of a Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program on Employer Health Care Insurance Claims and Costs, Absenteeism, and Employee Perceptions and Practices.” Journal of occupational and environmental medicine vol. 58,6 (2016): e231-40. doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000000738
- Pickering, Amy J et al. “Efficacy of waterless hand hygiene compared with handwashing with soap: a field study in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.” The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene vol. 82,2 (2010): 270-8. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2010.09-0220
- The Dirty Truth about Your Desk. 28 Mar. 2002, www.ehstoday.com/archive/article/21904825/the-dirty-truth-about-your-desk
- Chamila J. Denawaka, Ian A. Fowlis, John R. Dean. Source, impact and removal of malodour from soiled clothing. Journal of Chromatography A, 2016; 1438: 216 DOI: 10.1016/j.chroma.2016.02.037