Friday, 27 July 2018

Healthy approach to hygiene pays off

Shropshire employers could reduce staff sickness rates by introducing simple hygiene rules, according to a local solicitor.

Gemma Workman is an employment lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and she said surveys had revealed mixed results when it came to the number of days that employees were calling in sick.

“The Office for National Statistics has unveiled its latest data that shows approximately 137.3 million working days were lost to illness or injury in 2016.

“That’s the lowest rate since their records began over 20 years ago and it averages out at 4.3 days per worker. Yet other surveys have shown sickness rates are rising – an XpertHR poll of over 1.6 million employees showed the annual average was 6.6 days.”

Miss Workman said the ONS figures showed that one in every four days that staff stayed at home was down to a cough, cold or similar bug.

“Their survey also noted that manual workers were 17% less likely to call in sick due to colds, stomach aches and headaches than people who worked in offices. But back pain was, perhaps unsurprisingly, more common for people who had a physical job.”

Miss Workman said stepping up workplace hygiene could have a real impact on sickness rates, in particular, the use of sanitising hand gels.

“Some studies have shown that when the gels are available, the number of sick days falls – in Germany, colds and flu were 5% to 7% less in workforces where people used the gels five times a day.

“Even just making the gels available in prominent locations across your workplace will make people think more about hygiene, and you could also put up posters to encourage staff to wash their hands properly.

“It’s horrifying to think that 62% of men and 40% of women don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet, and it’s also no wonder that germs spread so easily when you look at those figures.

“Taking hygiene seriously could have a really positive effect on both the wellbeing of your staff and on the productivity and finances of your business. Reducing staff sick days will save on the expense of lost staff time, and also the cost of bringing in extra staff to cover for their absence.”