Poor hygiene

Workers can be exposed to germs, infections and infestation in a number of ways, depending on the nature of the work. A common way for infections to be transmitted is through poor hygiene practices.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others can be exposed to infection in number of different ways, including: 

  • Airborne infections – which are spread through the air when infected people cough, sneeze or speak. Air-conditioning can escalate the spread of the infection.
  • Contact infections – which are transmitted through direct or indirect contact with bacteria or viruses. Direct contact can include physical contact with an infected person, or contact with blood and body fluids.
  • Indirect contact infections – which involve touching an object or surface that has been contaminated by an infected person. 

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. 

Apart from the general hygienic practice, workers should adopt basic infection control measures. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Have an infection control plan.
  • Provide clean hand washing facilities.
  • Offer waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizers when regular facilities are not available.
  • Clean surfaces at least daily
  • Frequently touched area such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs should be cleaned more often subject to the frequency of use.
  • Regular pest control should be carried out.
  • Undertake worker health monitoring.
  • Making sure ventilation systems are working properly.
  • Provide personal protective equipment like gloves and face masks where necessary.  

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Get your workers involved

  • Ensure your workers know how to make suggestions, ask questions or raise concerns.
  • Always ask your workers for input on identifying health and safety risks and how to eliminate or minimise them. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good decisions when they have been involved in the conversation. Your workers (including contractors and temps) are the eyes and ears of your business. They can help spot issues, and suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.
  • Always train your workers on what the key risks are and how to keep healthy and safe. 

Find out more about getting your workers involved

Where to go for more information 

Health and wellbeing programmes | Ministry of Education(external link)

Diseases and illnesses | Ministry of Health(external link)