Workplace Hygiene

Workplace Hygiene

Workplace hygiene is a critical component of cleaning for health first, requiring adherence to high-quality handwashing practices, self-policing desk cleanliness, and shared workspace behaviors.

Workplace Hygiene

The Importance of Workplace Hygiene

Poor workplace hygiene can lead to several expensive issues, including absenteeism, presenteeism, and the elusive sick building syndrome.

According to The CDC Foundation;

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or $1,685 per employee.

According to the Harvard Business Review, more employees are working when they are sick, costing employers about $150 billion to $250 billion or 60 percent of the total cost of worker illness.

Additionally, chronic diseases, a rapidly-aging workforce and factors like stress, fatigue, and depression all affect employers’ revenue.

Worker Illness and Injury Costs U.S. Employers $225.8 Billion Annually

Additionally, sick building syndrome, whereby an occupant suffers from several symptoms commonly associated with a cold or flu, such as:

  • A headache.
  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation.
  • Fatigue, and;
  • Dizziness and nausea

This can be debilitating for workers, cause extreme work-related stress, drive down productivity and job satisfaction, and result in inestimable losses to businesses, both financially and talent-wise.

Combatting these issues requires a combination of modern, green-focused cleaning methods and an adherence to workplace hygiene by all building occupants.


Steps to Improve Workplace Hygiene

In addition to adopting a building-wide clean for health first approach that focuses on improving indoor air quality (IAQ) through safer cleaning products and more efficient cleaning equipment, the following should be adopted by businesses wishing to protect their occupants and profit margins in the years to come.


Hand Hygiene

Proper handwashing practices are likely the greatest separator dividing a healthy and chronically ill workforce.

Hand-to-surface/surface-to-hand contact is the single largest purveyor of workplace-acquired illness--an extremely costly yet entirely preventable challenge facing every business and school across the country.

Unfortunately, far too few occupants adhere to any semblance of hand hygiene.

According to a recent article published by Facility Executive;

[...] 56% of workers say they frequently or occasionally see their colleagues leave the restroom without washing up.

And men are more likely than women to overlook this tidy task: 63% of men frequently or occasionally observe non-washing behavior compared to 49% of women.

Is Hand Washing Happening In Your Workplace?

Posters that serve as reminders, as well as hands-on training sessions, have demonstrated some value in improving worker and student handwashing, but a key factor that may be overlooked--entirely within the control of the facilities maintenance and administrative staff--is the cleanliness of the restroom facilities, as well as the availability of soap and fresh paper towels.


Dirty Desks

Numerous studies have detailed exactly how disgusting the average office desk can become when left unattended.

Everyday-use items, such as:

  • Mice
  • Keyboards, and;
  • Telephones

Have been shown to harbor more germs than the office toilet seat.

This disturbing state of affairs is a byproduct of two separate but equal components:

  • Poor or non-existent hand hygiene and;
  • A lack of routine sanitation of well-documented germ hot spots.

A single behavior that ties these issues together, leading to the ingestion of several germs and intestinal bacteria more commonly found in restrooms, is the ill-advised practice of eating at one's desk.

Significant gains can be made in this area by:

  • Providing desk workers with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  • Discouraging meals at desks.
  • Encouraging occupants to regularly tidy up their workspace to make it easier for custodial staff to clean the various surfaces and;
  • Equipping your cleaning crews with electrostatic disinfection equipment that is safe for use on electronics.


Office Breakrooms

Office breakrooms share many of the same issues as dirty desks, except the volume of workers sharing the same space.

Foot traffic and numerous germ hot spots make office lunch and breakrooms one of the most likely locations for occupants to pass and pick up germs that lead to costly illness and productivity losses.

The first thing office workers tend to touch in the morning is the filthiest locations--coffee pot handles and mugs.

The problem is exacerbated significantly by using dirty old kitchen sponges, which likely harbor enough germs per square inch to justify immediate disposal and a switch to regularly laundered microfiber towels.

The solution to office breakroom hygiene challenges are similar to desks:

  • Encourage occupants to wash their hands before eating.
  • Enforce a 'clean up after yourself' policy to protect fellow employees and reduce the amount of work required to sanitize the space by the custodial staff, and;
  • Arm the regular staff with disinfectant wipes to sanitize their eating space before and after dining.


References & Resources



Improving workplace hygiene is a proven method for improving worker health, engagement, productivity, and business profits.

Additionally, combining high-performance workplace hygiene practices with a Clean for Health First initiative building-wide will make your business more appealing to your local community and prospective workforce talent.

Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450

In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410

In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.