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Essential Workplace Hygiene Do’s and Don’ts

Workplace and personal hygiene are of the utmost importance in ensuring a healthy, productive workforce.  Promoting good health starts with implementing hygiene policies and encouraging all parties to adhere to them. Here is a list of universal workplace and personal hygiene best practices known to ensure good health.

Basic workplace hygiene commonly refers to four areas:

1.      Workstation cleanliness

Workstations, especially desks, are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. The average desk contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat, research reveals.

Cleaning workstations with sanitizer helps reduce bacterial contamination, so you should use sanitizer, particularly during the height of the cold and flu season.

The most effective type of sanitizers is alcohol-based, with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol. These form a long-lasting barrier across hands, protecting against germs for a few hours after use.

Here are some workstation and work areas cleaning best practices:


·        Regularly clean your work area to avoid the buildup of hazardous, flammable, or combustible materials.

·        Provide employees with clean drinking water.

·        Regularly disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, and handrails.

·        Provide washing stations, to allow workers to wash their hands and therefore, avoid cross-contamination.

·        Keep storage areas clean.

·        Provide waste bins and hand hygiene facilities to employees, visitors and other staff.

·        Seal waste removal containers.

·        Increase ventilation.


·        Don't clutter your workstation


2.      Personal hygiene

Personal hygiene refers to the appearance, habits, and cleanliness of employees. This includes grooming, showering, and hand washing. Hand washing is particularly important, so here are a few tips on how to do it properly.

1.      Rinse your hands under running water and use soap to form foam.

2.      Rub your hands vigorously together for 15-20 seconds.

3.      Wash all areas, including thumbs, wrists and under the nails.

4.      Rinse well under running water for 5-10 seconds.

5.      Dry with a paper towel.

6.      Turn off water using paper towels.

Hand washing should be performed:

•       Before starting work.

•       Before putting on or changing gloves.

•       After using the toilet.

•       After sneezing, coughing, or using a handkerchief or tissue.

•       After touching hair, face, or body.

•       After smoking, eating, drinking, or chewing gum or tobacco.

•       After any cleanup activity such as sweeping, mopping, or wiping counters.

•       After touching dirty equipment.

•       After handling trash.

•       After handling money.


·        Use disposable, single-use tissues to cover the nose and mouth when sneezing, coughing or wiping and blowing the nose.

·        Keep work clothes clean and in good condition. Holes or tears will allow hazardous materials to get on to clothes or skin.

·        Store PPE in a clean/dry area until required for use, to prevent any potential contamination.

·        Clean dirt and debris off work boots and keep them outside.

·        Always wash hands before applying gloves, to prevent accidental exposure to chemicals.

·        Cover any existing cuts, abrasions or breaks in the skin.

·        Remove contact lenses if exposed to vapors to prevent eye irritation.

·        Wear hair restraints, where needed.

·        Stay home if feeling sick.


·       Mix contaminated clothing with your home laundry.

·        Re-use single-use respiratory PPE.

·        Touch contaminated PPE.

·        Sneeze or cough without covering your nose and mouth.

·        Leave the toilet without washing your hands.

·        Clean your face with reused tissues.


3.      Kitchen cleanliness

The handle of the kitchen kettle in a shared office harbors 2,483 germs per square inch, research shows. So, thorough cleaning needs to take place in communal areas like a shared kitchen and washroom facilities.


·        Wash hands and utensils before preparing food.

·        Ensure staff practice strict hygiene.

·        Use tissue paper or hand towels from wall-mounted dispensers.

·        Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and raw meat, poultry and seafood. Clean thoroughly with hot soapy water after use.

·        Ventilate rooms.

·        Clearly label a non-potable (unsanitary to drink from) water source, indicating the water is not safe for drinking, washing or cooking.


·        Share towels.

·        Practice or encourage food sharing.


4.      Restroom hygiene

Policies should ensure that facilities are always supplied with hand soap, toilet paper, and drying towels/equipment.


·        Stock with adequate toilet paper.

·        Keep toilets in good working order.

·        Inspect toilets regularly.

·        Keep toilets private.

Lastly, don’t forget to promote a culture of hygiene. Strategically place posters to remind employees to wash their hands, leave the staff room hygienic and clear their desks regularly.

Making sure employees adhere to basic standards of hygiene will help diminish the spread of disease-carrying bacteria and viruses that can be rampant in shared spaces. But more importantly, it will diminish absenteeism and keep people happy and productive.

Stay safe!

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Alexandra Serban
Content Marketing Specialist
Alexandra Serban is the Content Marketing Specialist for Honeywell Industrial Safety. A seasoned writer and digital storyteller, she is learning and reporting on industrial safety news, trends and products.