What about hygiene?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act places an explicit obligation on the employer to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace.  It is undoubtedly in the employer’s interest to consistently apply good hygiene in the workplace.


Statistics associated with workplace hygiene are as follows:

  • The average desk harbours 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Regular hand washing and sanitising can decrease illness.
  • According to Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA) absenteeism costs the South African economy between R 12- 16 billion annually.

Good hygiene in the workplace contributes to:

  • Continuity of human resources – when an employee takes sick leave, it undoubtedly impacts on the workload of other employees. The employer does not necessarily have spare capacity to address the situation and this puts pressure on the employer’s business activities
  • Saving costs by taking less sick leave – the employee is entitled to paid sick leave when he/she is unable to work due to a medical condition. When absenteeism is reduced, the employer saves money.
  • Heightened productivity by counteracting presenteeism – the term “presenteeism” refers to when employees show up for work while they are ill and this leads to loss of productivity, making mistakes, etc.
  • Improved morale and employee wellness.
  • A positive image in respect of suppliers, customers and investors.
Basic hygiene in the workplace refers to personal hygiene, clean work areas, clean restroom facilities and a clean kitchen. A lack of personal hygiene often leads to friction and negatively impacts the business’s professional image.
Each workplace is unique. Although some businesses need to apply stricter hygiene measures in terms of the service or product they provide, good hygiene in any workplace is to the employer’s benefit.

Be proactive and maintain good hygiene in the workplace:

  • Implement a hygiene policy.
  • Create awareness among employees of the benefits of good hygiene.
  • Cultivate good habits (regular handwashing) and make it easier for employees to practice good hygiene by installing handwashing stations and/or hand sanitisers.
  • Provide a clean restroom that is well stocked with soap, toilet paper and hand towels.
  • Ensure the workplace is cleaned regularly.



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