Teresa Budworth: I’m a bit obsessed with toilets!

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Look, I know it’s something people generally don’t like to talk about, but I’m a bit obsessed with toilets, especially with people washing their hands!

And there’s good reason for it.

According to studies by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, around a quarter of people in the UK neglect personal hygiene by failing to wash their hands properly, with almost one in three carrying bacteria “from the human gut” on their hands.

Sounds gross I know, and you’re probably wishing you hadn’t read this now, but I think personal hygiene is something we mustn’t shy away from in the workplace.

The fact is, hand washing is one of the most important ways of controlling the spread of infections, especially those that cause diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu.

Diarrhoea, vomiting, colds and flu – probably the most common causes of absence from work, wouldn’t you think?

This makes hand-washing after visiting the toilet an important health, safety and HR issue. And not just in Industries such as healthcare and catering, but all places of work.

We all share desks, work equipment and come into contact with each other. And yes, I’m going to say it, we share toilets too!

This makes it important that employers ensure welfare facilities are properly maintained, that things such as computer keyboard cleaning kits and telephone wipes are made available, and are used, and that people wash their hands regularly and properly.

Put up signs in toilets reminding people to wash their hands. Distribute information on hand-washing around your workplace – the HSE has a poster entitled “Skin care – Hand washing and applying hand cream” you can find on its website – www.hse.gov.uk/skin/posters/wash.pdf.

And most importantly let’s not ignore the issue. In fact, let’s all get a bit obsessed with toilets and hand-washing.

Now where is my anti-bacterial hand spray?

About Teresa Budworth

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About Teresa Budworth

Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health

During a 30 year career in health and safety, she has specialised in safety consultancy; working with a number of Boards of Directors on implementing safety governance within large and diverse organisations. Her work on competence, education and training culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of NEBOSH; the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, in 2006.

Prior to joining NEBOSH, Teresa combined management of Norwich Union Risk Service’s (now Aviva) Consultancy operation with her post as a non-executive Director and Trustee of NEBOSH and was Senior Examiner for Diploma Part One from its inception in 1997. She is a Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow and member of the Examination Board for post graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. She is a member of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee and also serves on the judging panel for RoSPA’s annual occupational safety and health awards. She is a member of IOSH Council.

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