Salek, head of engineering and technical operations at Uvisan. Employees are more conscious of best hygiene practices and the risks of colds, flu, stomach bugs and other contagious illnesses that can cause absenteeism among the workforce. The pandemic has shown how effective being mindful of good


hygiene is when it comes to keeping people well, as the UK sickness absence rate fell by 1.8% to its lowest ever recorded level in 2020, despite Covid. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has cited minor illnesses such as coughs and colds as the number one reason for sick leave every year since records began in 1995, accounting for 27% of sick days in 2018 and 26% in 2020. Improving workplace cleanliness creates a clear business

advantage for manufacturers, as more stringent hygiene processes will prevent illness from spreading through the workforce. Despite the progress of the vaccination rollout, Covid, its variants and other contagious illnesses will not simply disappear. The threat of future pandemics is no longer vague and distant, especially as people begin to mix in large numbers again. Installing preventative measures will protect businesses from

infectious illnesses in circulation, as well as giving employees peace of mind that they are working in a safe environment. Ensuring regular sanitation of high-frequency touchpoints is

critical to slowing down the spread of any harmful pathogens in manufacturing settings. Bacteria and viruses are commonly spread via doorknobs, machinery controls, kitchen counters and appliances, and other commonly touched items, as well as equipment that is used by multiple colleagues, such as electronic handsets or tools. The American Society for Microbiology found that a virus initially

left on a single doorknob or tabletop could be detected on 40%-60% of workers, visitors, and commonly touched objects within two to four hours, demonstrating the importance of regular and thorough disinfection throughout the day. Using traditional cleaning measures, such as wet wipes and

chemicals can be arduous and time-consuming, costly, create landfill waste and damage sensitive equipment. To overcome these issues, organisations should explore alternative methods. Throughout the pandemic, using medical-grade UV lamps to kill or deactivate pathogens on any surface or air exposed to it has gained traction. UV-C sanitation technology can be harnessed in a secure cabinet

and used to disinfect shared equipment such as laptops, handsets, and hand-held tools, all of which have the potential to transmit viruses between the workforce. This ensures that equipment that may be damaged by moisture can be quickly, effectively sanitised before being touched by different members of staff. The technology can also be used on a wider scale to disinfect

entire rooms, the air, and all surfaces within. Carefully positioned UV- C lamps allow manufacturers to run a decontamination cycle that will make an entire workplace safe. This is an effective way to make complex, high-frequency touchpoints, such as machinery controls, safe to use by multiple employees. As well as killing 99.9% of pathogens, UV-C is zero-waste, unlike wet wipes and similar cleaning methods, saving organisations money

year of focus on catching infections will change the way people regard hygiene and contagious illnesses at work beyond the end of pandemic-related restrictions, says Jarek

over time. It is also quick, easy and safe to use. Many of those working in manufacturing will be familiar with the

cycle of a colleague coming into work with a seasonal cold and it spreading to other members of the workforce. The ONS suggests that the all-time low number of sick days taken in 2020 could be due to people staying at home when mildly unwell and therefore not spreading their germs.

Employers should implement policies that encourage staying away from the workplace when they have a potentially contagious illness. Managers should prioritise employee health and promote a culture in which staff are not criticised for taking sick leave and preventing illnesses from spreading to colleagues. If potentially infectious employees are well enough to work, working from home or working in an environment within the workplace where interaction with other members of the workforce is minimised, are possible solutions. Fresh air and good ventilation considerably reduce the spread of

Covid, so as more people go back to the workplace, employers should ensure that ventilation is prioritised and that an appropriate number of windows and doors can be opened. In rooms or spaces without windows, employers should explore air

purifiers to ensure there is a constant circulation of fresh, sanitary air throughout the premises. A shocking 2019 survey revealed that almost four in 10 office

workers in the UK do not wash their hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom. The pandemic should have vastly improved personal hygiene practices, but employers should take an active part in encouraging this to prevent people from becoming ill due to colleagues’ bad habits. Providing hand sanitiser at workstations, an efficient surface

cleaner at shared desks and in kitchen areas, and increased signage reminding people to thoroughly wash their hands in bathrooms, will all help to minimise the risk of disease transmission. There is much that manufacturers can learn from the pandemic about the benefits of effective infection control. Bolstering disinfection measures with specialist technology, such as UV-C lamps and air filtration systems, will bring benefits of improved productivity and will future-proof the workplace from future illness outbreaks.

As with all high capacity, people-dense spaces, offices, factory floors, and other workplaces are a hotbed for illness spreading, but by making some simple but effective changes, manufacturers can protect their workforce and, in turn, their business from infectious illnesses.


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