In the UK over 30 million working days are lost each year to illnesses caused by infections and transmittable diseases. This figure equates to roughly 2.5% of total working hours lost per year which works out as 7 working days per employee per year. Other estimates place this calculation closer to 9 working days lost per year per employee. This brings an average cost to the business of between £1,000 and £1,800 per employee per year. For a company employing only 10 members of staff this is a sick bill of £10,000 to £18,000. The real cost of sickness to a company can be lost business, increased burden on other employees and further employee sickness through transmission. Even saving 1 employee sick day per year could see this small business recouping £1,000 to £1,800 in lost staffing costs. So how can this be done?
Firstly let’s air the issue at hand! What controls can an employer have on their employees’ health? There are a large number of variables that are outside the scope of decent workplace infection control procedures. Your employees will frequent sports clubs, public transport, schools, other workplace environments and many other high traffic areas that are vectors for disease and infection. However as an employer you have control over your employees’ environment for 36% of their active week and can also educate your workforce in simple changes that can increase their personal understanding of infection prevention and control enabling them to reduce their risk in other environments. Add to this effective disease and infection control procedures in the workplace and your business can reduce the impact of contact and airborne viruses, bacteria or fungi.
Sickness in the workplace has a wider impact than the immediate cost of sick leave on full pay. Important meetings and key decisions can be delayed providing a further financial implication in the future. At the time of sickness other staff might be required to step in and shoulder some of the workload of their sick colleague which will increase their risk of sickness by lowering their immune systems at a time when they are likely to be fighting the same virus as their missing colleague. Without the correct hygiene policies and infection control your remaining employees have increased susceptibility and are more likely to end up taking time off themselves. So what can you do?
NHS Standard Infection Control Procedures outline some of the strictest methods and recommendations available. Firstly we should consider contact surface hygiene. How many contact points are there in your environment? How often are your employees likely to handle common surfaces each day? Everybody looks at the door handle of the toilet with immense suspicion but this isn’t the only surface vector in the workplace. A well trained washroom service operative can identify an alarming number of high risk contact points that you may well not have considered in your own environment (please ask us, we’d be happy to send one of our technicians in to do a review for your business). Naturally these can be cleaned but providing your employees with easy access to hand sanitisation solutions is an effective measure in lowering the risk of transmission. Adding effective surface hygiene solutions in the washroom environment including toilet seat sanitisers, efficient soap dispensers, no touch taps, effective hand drying and hand sanitiser dispensers can greatly reduce the risk of infection hazards in this environment. This covers surface based infections but what about airborne risks?
Airborne diseases are responsible for nearly 20% off workplace related illnesses yet it is relatively simple to improve your workplace air quality at low cost. Modern air purification systems provide a multi-purpose solution to workplace infection. Air Purification can remove odours, extract diseases and reduce surface contamination without the use of chemical sprays which cause allergic reactions and breathing problems for a portion of the population. Well maintained air filtration and purification systems can remove up to 98% of bacteria, viruses and VOCs from your environment using ultra-violet to eliminate airborne germs whilst oxidisation eliminates bacteria, viruses, moulds, fungi and VOCs. Whilst this does not remove droplet spread infection (i.e. sneezing and coughing directly onto a colleague) it will greatly reduce the indirect risk and provide odour-neutralisation at the same time making it an effective solution for all your workplace environments.
Effective infection control equipment coupled with increased employee awareness of contact hygiene control an employer can directly influence their employees’ well-being and help lower the cost of employee absenteeism. In a perfect environment it would be possible to realise a complete eradication of the workplace as a vector for sickness and realise up to a 36% reduction in workplace sickness. Naturally this is not possible however working with a washroom services company to reduce the risk of contact point and airborne infections will allow your business to make direct savings on your hygiene solutions investment. Even if your improvements could only bring a 30% reduction on your workplace infection risk this would enable your business to reduce workplace absenteeism by 11% which would equate to between .6 and 1 day per employee per year that would equate to saving £140 - £200 per employee per year. Even with these low estimates Zenith Washroom Solutions is confident that we can show a direct return on your investment allowing you to realise the increased benefits of high employee and customer satisfaction levels. After all it is these satisfaction levels that sit at the core of our business and ensure our continued presence and growth in an increasingly competitive environment.