The Nature of Workplace Hygiene and Why It Is So Important
Although we may not always be aware of it, the working environment can pose more hazards than attempting to cross a busy main road. However, while it is a relatively simple matter to spot a speeding vehicle and take steps to avoid it, those contingencies that may threaten our health or safety on the job are not always quite so obvious. For this reason, employers frequently turn to a workplace hygiene specialist for some expert help.
Mention the word “hygienic” to the average individual and they will identify it with cleanliness and measures, such as washing one’s hands before handling food. While this may be quite appropriate in certain cases, in more general terms, it refers to a much broader range of measures of which many are applicable in most working environments.
Even those who spend their days seated at a computer in an air-conditioned office could be at risk without effective workplace hygiene measures. Over time, badly designed seating could result in poor posture and painful back problems that could necessitate time off from work, while many people will remember the outbreak of Legionnaires disease caused by poorly maintained hotel air conditioners and which eventually killed 29 people in 1976.
On the factory floor, the potential hazards to which workers are exposed are invariably even more numerous, although not always immediately apparent. Even the level of noise and vibration caused by machinery can take their toll on the human body and are just two of the many hazards that a workplace hygiene company is required to investigate.
The services provided by these companies are essentially fivefold and begin with an inspection based on an understanding of the particular industry gained through experience and input from the employer. Its purpose is to identify anything that might be classified as a potential hazard. Once completed, the second and third steps will be to determine which employees may be at risk and then to examine each hazard individually in order to determine just how much of a risk to those employees’ health and safety it might actually present.
This part of a workplace hygiene assessment involves grading the level of risk attached to each hazard to determine whether some form of intervention is required and, if so, how urgently it will need to be implemented. The fourth and most crucial step in the procedure is to decide on the various measures that will be required to either eliminate those risks or to reduce them to a more manageable level. For example, if there is a problem with air quality due to dust, the primary requirement will be to earmark the cause and take steps to reduce dust formation. If this proves insufficient, masks or respirators may also be required.
The workplace hygiene team will then present its recommendation to management who then become responsible for adopting them. In some cases, the team may also assist in the process of familiarising staff with any new measures and why they are important. Finally, the specialists will revisit the site at regular intervals to monitor the effectiveness of their recommendations.
A healthy workforce is a productive one and a workplace hygiene assessment is a good starting point. Do not delay. Contact IOH Solutions for your professional assessment.