Workplace Illness and Winter Woes

With winter slowly creeping into homes, hearths and heads, we thought it best to provide you with some key facts and figures – and fair warning – surrounding some of the dangers in the workplace over this period. Something as simple as a winter cold might not seem to fit within the category of “dangers”, but you’d be shocked to know the financial impact of lost work days due to minor illnesses! The common cold is in fact the most common reason for sickness absence.

It is a little known fact that in the 2016/17 financial year, work-related illness and injuries cost Britain roughly £15 billion.

A look at the numbers

Let’s break down the key figures of work-related illness and injury for the year of 2017.

  • 30.7 million working days lost
  • 15 billion pounds in costs
  • 1.4 million work-related ill-health cases
  • 0.6 million cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety
  • 0.5 million cases of musculoskeletal disorder
  • 0.6 million non-fatal injuries to workers
  • 71, 062 non-fatal injuries to employees reported by employers
  • 12, 000 lung disease deaths due to past exposure
  • 2, 595 deaths by mesothelioma
  • 144 fatalities


Ill Health

We all know how it goes. Bob catches a cold. Bob sneezes all over Susan from accounting and before you know it, the whole office is looking like it’s red-nose day, the coughing is unbearable, the Grim Reaper is standing by the water cooler and the Earth has just fallen off its axis.

Unfortunately, ill-health is an unavoidable situation in life and in workplaces Thus, it is the task of the Facility Manager to ensure that his charges are as well-looked after as possible, in order to mitigate risks as much as is reasonably possible.

Simple methods for keeping the workplace healthy:

Of course, over the course of human evolution we have learned a number of ways to prevent the spread of illness – especially in working environments.

Wash your hands

It may seem obvious, but seriously; wash your hands. The reduction in the spread of germs is incredible. There are many ways to facilitate this rule, but perhaps the most popular is to have hand-sanitiser readily available. Depending on the size of your facility, you may also want to look at having ‘sanitation stations’ in as many exits and entrances as possible. The ideal scenario would be for people coming in and out of doors to keep their hands as germ-free as possible. This reduces the spread of bacteria immensely, as the number one cause of fast spreading disease is through hand-to-hand contact.

Keep it covered!

Another great rule is the face mask. Made popular largely by Asian countries, the face mask can reduce the chance of infection by a whopping 75%! The benefit is that these work both ways. A person who is ill will spread less germs by wearing one, and a healthy person will diminish their chances at contagion exponentially. This may not be plausible in all working situations, but by implementing a rule for face masks you might just save your facility or business huge amounts of money.

Keep it clean!

Having an efficient cleaning staff might just be the best thing you ever invested in! Regularly cleaning and disinfecting the workplace during winter (and all year-round) is one of the most crucial steps in keeping your running costs to the business down. Areas which should have particular attention paid to them are:

  • Door knobs and handles
  • Buttons around the office (microwaves, printers, copiers etc.)
  • Surfaces of shared equipment
  • Keyboards
  • Telephones
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Benches and counters
  • Books and other shared materials


Keep your distance!

Finally, the most efficient method of prevention is distance. The stark reality is that people will get sick, and those that come to work and try to push through the week while highly-contagious are actually doing the business a disservice.

Set reminders!

Although mostly overlooked, never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned information campaign. Cover the bathrooms in notices about hygiene, and best practices for avoiding illness. Put up pictures of polite coughing practice (nose to armpit) and even think about running an office health seminar. You could end up saving your facility a great deal in the long term with something as simple as a bit of health education.

The long term benefits

It goes without saying that workplace hygiene is important to the total wellness of the workforce. In a 2015 study, it was found that a healthy workforce was 15% more productive. So keeping your facility clean and healthy will save you money from less illness-related leave, as well as boosting production for the year ahead. It’s a win-win.

How can Voltix Services help me?

Voltix Services can assist you with a full range of FM services. We specialise in maintaining workplaces to the highest standards and will tailor a planned, preventative maintenance contract to suit your requirements and your budget. Call us now for a full assessment of your facility – 020 3510 2016.