11 Pandemic Workplace Hygiene Tips

11 Pandemic Workplace Hygiene Tips

These days, it pays to be paranoid at work.

With Covid-19 gripping parts of the planet, working in an office can be treacherous. According to the CDC, the coronavirus spreads predominantly through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, which can project up to six feet. The virus may also spread by touching infected surfaces or objects.

From commuting to sharing bathrooms to simply sitting at your desk, germs are coming at you from every angle when you’re at work. It’s important to be cautious in the best of times, but especially now.

Here’s how to stay vigilant and avoid infection throughout your work day. 

1.Wash Your Hands Properly and Often

There is no vaccine for Covid-19. Currently, washing your hands is the best form of prevention. 

The CDC recommends washing your hands throughout the day, and especially after using the bathroom, before you eat, and after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze. To wash your hands properly, scrub them for at least 20 seconds, and rinse them under running water. Read the CDC’s more detailed instructions on hand-washing.

2. Hand Sanitizer Isn’t Enough

Some offices feature hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the space, or maybe your neighbor always keeps a giant bottle of Purell. These are fine, but they’re not a total fix. The CDC warns that you should only use sanitizers containing 60 percent alcohol or more, but even those solutions don’t kill all germs. Wash your hands, too. 

3. Avoid Touching Your Face

The coronavirus may spread on surfaces, according to the CDC. If you touch the virus, it could transmit it through your mouth, nose, or eyes. Whatever you do, don’t touch your face. If you absolutely must – to retouch makeup in the bathroom, for example – wash your hands thoroughly directly beforehand. 

4. Don’t Bite Your Nails

No matter how stressed or bored you are in a work meeting, do not bite your nails. If the coronavirus spreads on surfaces, your nails could be contaminated. When you wash your hands, scrub under the nails.

5. Wipe Down All of Your Devices Regularly

You touch your keyboards and tablets all the time, and you may put your smartphone or work phone up to your face. It’s critical to keep these objects clean using sanitized, electronic-friendly wipes.

While we don’t know everything about the coronavirus, this method was recommended by the CDC to slow the spread of the flu.

6. Beware of Other Office Germ Hotspots

Everyone knows that you’re supposed to wash your hands after you use the bathroom (hopefully). But other high-traffic germ cesspools exist throughout the office that you probably didn’t even consider. 

Elevator buttons, light switches, doorknobs, conference room intercom buttons, coffee machines, fridge door handles, dishware, remote controls, water fountains, and kitchen faucets are all great places for germs to thrive. Wash your hands immediately after touching these objects, and do not touch your face.

7. Prioritize Your Immune System

People with weaker immune systems will be affected more strongly by the coronavirus, possibly leading to fatality. Do whatever you can to maintain a healthy immune system. This means you must lower your stress levels, sleep and eat well. Exercise and meditate. Take walks during lunch. 

**This goes triple if you’re pregnant or immunocompromised, or if you live with a pregnant, elderly or immunocompromised person. Work with your doctor and your supervisor on a plan to stay healthy, even if that means taking time off from work. Work should never compromise your health, or the health of loved ones.**

8. Masks Are Not as Helpful as You Think

Depending on where you work, wearing a facemask might feel a little strange. But you don’t have to wear one, according to the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who tweeted that the masks do not even prevent infection of the coronavirus.

The CDC said that face masks should be used by sick people who are trying to prevent the spread of disease, and by health care workers. Of course, talk to your doctor about individual concerns.

9. Commute With Care

Public transportation can expose you to dangerous germs. Crowded subways, airplanes, buses and any enclosed spaces are some of the riskiest areas out there. If you can, take transport during off-peak hours, and try to stick to above-ground stations with short wait times. Wash your hands as soon as possible after your commute, and do not touch your face before then.

Taxis are much less risky, but doctors advise sitting behind the driver in case he or she is infected. Driving yourself, walking or biking are the least risky ways to commute, if possible.

10. Speak Up to Colleagues and Supervisors.

Now’s not the time to play it cool. If there is a hygiene problem in your office, speak up. Leave notes on the bathroom mirror showing people how to properly wash their hands, or above the sink telling everyone to wash their dishes and hands thoroughly before and after being in the kitchen. 

Speak up if you see an ongoing problem, such as a coworker who always shows up to work sick, consistently empty soap dispensers or piled-up dishes in the sink.

11. Work From Home

If you can, work from home to lower the probability of infection. Depending on your arrangement, this can be a tricky conversation to have with your manager.

However, if you can demonstrate that you are productive at home, a reasonable manager shouldn’t deny your desire to stay safe. There is plenty of conferencing technology available now. 

Important: If you get sick, stay home. Companies are expanding sick leave policies and pay for employees, as well as for contractors in some cases. State governments are also expanding sick leave and unemployment regulations. Here’s information on coronavirus in the workplace.