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All workplace environments need to be hygienic and safe for employees and visitors, even those which aren’t involved in the production and handling of food and personal products. Implementing a workplace hygiene policy is an effective way to ensure that all parties follow the same standards. The policy provides guidelines that managers and business owners can use in various situations.
Personal hygiene refers to the cleanliness, appearance and habits of employees, which can occasionally be a sensitive issue for managers and business owners, particularly in multi-cultural environments. An official policy helps to ease any awkwardness by establishing precisely what is expected from employees. Criteria may include taking daily baths or showers, using deodorant or perfume, hair-washing and avoiding offensive personal habits such as spitting and passing gas. Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers has gained importance as a protection against the spread of illnesses.
Workplace hygiene policies often make provision for each employee to clean and maintain his own workstation. This includes emptying the trash bin regularly and washing it out if it is used for loose food or other products that may decompose and cause an odor. In public areas such as the front office or reception, the hygiene policy could include regular washing of floors and working surfaces with disinfectant to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Policies typically also include keeping the area tidy and free of clutter. A survey of U.S. employees showed that 60 percent judge their co-workers partially on how clean they keep their workstation areas.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s workplace hygiene requirements provide for restrooms for all employees to be equipped with hot and cold running water or tepid water, hand soap, toilet paper and hand drying towels or equipment. This is to ensure that workers have the opportunity to practice personal hygiene after using the facilities. A company might hire an employee cleaning staff to attend to the restrooms. If employees are required to maintain the facilities themselves, however, the workplace hygiene policy could include details such as the frequency of cleaning and the type of products to use for cleaning the floor, toilet bowls and sinks.
Hygiene policies for the kitchen area in a workplace environment need to cover regular cleaning and maintenance of utensils and equipment. Companies often have dedicated cleaning staff for this purpose, or include responsibility for the kitchen in the job description of certain employees. This allocates accountability for the task of cleaning and helps to ensure that it gets done. Employees who are unhappy about the levels of workplace hygiene can file a complaint with OSHA if they believe the standards of cleanliness are poor enough to constitute a health risk.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration: Employer Guidance Reducing All Workers' Exposures to Seasonal Flu Virus
- Business News Daily: Employees Judged by Office Cleanliness
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration: Sanitation
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration: How to File a Complaint with OSHA
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.