Call Now
  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Workplace hygiene

Workplace Hygiene

Published September 6, 2019 (last updated on May 15, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator


All workplace environments need to be hygienic and safe for both employees and visitors. This applies to all, not just workplaces involved in handling food and personal products.

A solid workplace hygiene policy is the best way to ensure employees maintain a clean workplace.

Each workplace will require different hygiene requirements. Certain tasks, or industries may also create risks which require additional protection than those discussed below. However, below are some key areas all workplaces should consider for their workplace hygiene policy.

Why is hygiene important in the workplace?

 Hygiene is important in the workplace because it contributes to a healthy workforce. A healthy workforce is happier and more productive. A healthy workplace also means workers take less sick leave. Which will reduce the huge cost that sick leave places on small business – it is reported that it costs SMEs $20,000 a year.

How do you maintain hygiene in the workplace? 

  • Implement a hygiene policy

Provide staff with a written hygiene policy. Inform them of your intentions and expectations of a clean workplace. This helps communicate to staff that you also take workplace hygiene seriously.

  • Provide a clean bathroom

It is pivotal for a hygienic workplace to have a clean bathroom. Also ensure that the bathroom is well stocked with soap, toilet paper and hand towels.

  • Provide clean wipes, sanitiser and tissues

Provide items such as these to help your staff maintain a clean and hygienic workspace. Employees are more likely to use such items if they are readily available.

  • Regular cleaning

Make sure your workplace is regularly cleaned. This helps prevent the spread of infection, and a cleaned workplace also maintains morale and a sense of professionalism.

What is the basic hygiene in a workplace?

Basic hygiene in the workplace can be put down to four different things: personal hygiene; work area cleanliness; clean restroom facilities; and a clean kitchen.

Why is personal hygiene important in the workplace?

Personal hygiene refers to the cleanliness, appearance and habits of employees. Personal hygiene of employees, for obvious reasons, can be a sensitive issue for business owners.

An official policy helps to ease any awkwardness, as employees will understand what is expected of them.

Criteria may include showering, using deodorant or perfume, grooming facial hair and hair-washing. Hand washing and the use of hand sanitisers also has great importance as a protection against the spread of illnesses.

Why is it important to keep work areas clean?

Workplace hygiene policies should also make provision for each employee to clean and maintain their own workstation or work areas.

The hygiene policy could include regular cleaning of surfaces with disinfectant. This would result in a drastic reduction of infection and illness. Policies typically also include keeping the area tidy and free of clutter.

The Healthy and Safety at Work Regulations Act even states that business must maintain clean, safe and accessible facilities.

Workplace restroom hygiene

Provide toilets with hand soap, toilet paper and hand drying towels or equipment. Prompt your workers to practice personal hygiene after using the facilities.

Some businesses hire an external cleaning service to attend to the restrooms. If employees are required to maintain the facilities themselves, however, the workplace hygiene policy could include details such as the frequency of cleaning and the type of products to use for cleaning the floor, toilet bowls and sinks.

Why hygiene is important in the office kitchen

As the kitchen is a shared environment, it is vital that good hygiene is observed. Regular cleaning and maintenance of utensils and equipment is a must in any workplace hygiene policy.

This allocates accountability for the task of cleaning and helps to ensure that it gets done. Employees who are unhappy about the levels of workplace hygiene can complain if they believe the standards of cleanliness are poor enough to constitute a health risk.

For businesses that prepare food or have a commercial kitchen, different regulations apply depending on the industry.

Get Workplace Advice Now

Call Our Team of Expert Advisers Who Will Help You with Your Workplace Questions.

Call Now

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can Hygiene Be Improved In The Workplace?

Hygiene can be improved in the workplace by following four simple steps.

  1. Introduce a hygiene policy. This policy should clearly explain what you expect of staff. It should also state what the business is willing to provide employees.
  2. Regular cleaning. Simply, regularly cleaning – of the toilets, workstations and the office – is one of the most effective ways to improve hygiene. If possible, hire external cleaners to clean the office after hours.
  3. Provide toiletries to employees. Prompt your employees into maintain a hygienic workplace by providing them with toiletries. For example, sanitiser bottles, soap, boxes of tissues, and clean wipes.
  4. Internal communication. Remind employees of the importance of personal hygiene on a regular basis. Let them know how much it means to your business. Also, it is best practice to lead by example.
Do and Don’ts of Personal Hygiene In The Workplace
  • Do clean up after yourself
  • Do regularly wipe down your workstation
  • Do wash your cups and mugs daily
  • Do use sanitiser provided for you
  • Do adhere to the company’s hygiene policy
  • Don’t sneeze or cough without covering your nose and mouth
  • Don’t leave the toilet without washing your hands
  • Don’t use a public toilet without wiping it down
  • Don’t irregularly clean your workstation
  • Don’t clean your face regularly with reused tissues
Can You Fire Someone for Poor Hygiene?

An employee could potentially be dismissed for poor hygiene practices.

However, if an employer wants to avoid an unfair dismissal claim they have to make sure the dismissal is not harsh or unreasonable.

For instance, the hygiene issue has to be a significant disruption to the workplace. Additionally, the employee must be offered a chance to improve themselves or address the issue.

How To Maintain Personal Hygiene In The Workplace?

 To maintain personal hygiene in the workplace, you must keep doing the following things:

  • Regularly clean your desk. Stop infections from spreading, and dust from gathering, by cleaning your desk.
  • Sanitise your hands at least once day. Another method of halting infections in their tracks. Sanitisers kill bacteria and viruses in ways that soap won’t.
  • Regularly wash your cups, mugs, plates and cutlery. Be safe rather than sorry by regularly washing the kitchen equipment you regularly use.
  • Keep a box of tissues on your desk. In case you need them, to cover a sneeze or clean your face, make sure your tissues are within arms-reach of you, always. 
How Do You Talk to An Employee About Personal Hygiene?
  • Write, provide and implement a hygiene policy. This is the best first step to talking to an employee about personal hygiene. It is also gives you some background and context to support you if a serious conversation is needed.
  • Generally remind employees about personal hygiene. Even if you would like to discuss the issue with one employee, avoid embarrassment by reminding all employees of your expectations. As hygiene is a sensitive issue, make sure your communication is delicate.
  • Talk to them privately. If you wish to talk to an employee about a specific issue, pull them aside and speak to them privately. 
What Is A Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk policy sets out an employer’s expectations of the cleanliness of an employee’s desk. For instance, it can request employees pack all their documents into their drawers before leaving. Regularly wiping down a desk can also be stated in a clean desk policy. 

How Do You Enforce A Clean Desk Policy?
  • Write a policy. Detail want you, the business owner, expects from your employees.
  • Provide copies of the policy to employees. Make the effort to communicate your expectations to the employees.
  • Remind employees of your expectations. Every now and then, remind employees of your expectations
  • Generally remind employees about the clean desk policy and its importance in the workplace.
What Are Some Hygiene Rules In The Kitchen?

The rules that follow are some suggestions for office kitchens. Commercial kitchens may follow different regulations.

  • Do not leave dirty cups and plates in the sink
  • Clean up any mess you make
  • Do not leave food unattended
  • Put all scraps into the bins provided
  • Regularly empty the fridge of leftover food
  • If you make a mess, clean it up
  • Label your food
  • Leave the kitchen cleaner than you found it
How Do Work Procedures Help Employees to Handle Food Safely?
  • By encouraging hygiene discipline. Let employees know what you expect of them, so they can govern their own behaviour.
  • By informing them of best practice. Some employees may want to know how to stay hygienic. A procedure describing how to handle food safely might be what they need.
  • By stopping the spread of infection and illness. A properly carried out procedure should reduce the spread of illness. Food not handled safely can spoil easily.
Why Is Food Safety and Hygiene Is Important?

Food safety and hygiene is important because it helps keep a workplace healthier, more productive and happier. A hygienic workplace is a healthier workplace. There is less sickness, and illness spreads more slowly.

As a result, a hygienic workplace is also more productive. Less sick leave is taken by employees in hygienic workplaces. Handling food safety properly is an important part of a hygienic workplace.

Why Is It Important to Keep Work Areas Clean?

Workplace hygiene policies should also make provision for each employee to clean and maintain their own workstation or work areas.

The hygiene policy could include regular cleaning of surfaces with disinfectant. This would result in a drastic reduction of infection and illness. Policies typically also include keeping the area tidy and free of clutter.

Related posts

Have a question?

Employsure Logo

Not a client yet?

0800 568 012

Existing clients call

0800 675 700

Existing clients (overseas)

+64 9 941 5205

Employsure Office

8 Tangihua Street, Auckland CBD
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo

Copyright © 2024 Employsure Pty Ltd. ABN 40 145 676 026

Employsure Protect is a discretionary risk product issued by Employsure Mutual Limited ACN 630 256 478 (AFSL 544232). Employsure Mutual has appointed Employsure Limited to distribute the product in New Zealand. To decide if this product is right for you, please read the Employsure Protect Product Disclosure Statement.