COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can acquire the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
A key way you can protect yourself, employees and co-workers from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is by practicing good hygiene and ensuring control measures are put in place in your workplace.
What do I need to consider when providing hygiene facilities?
You must ensure there are adequate and accessible facilities to achieve good hygiene and that they are in good working order, are clean and are otherwise safe.
You may need to provide additional washing facilities and change rooms to facilitate physical distancing. You must also consider whether there are an adequate number of hand washing and drying stations, in convenient locations, to sustain the increase in workers’ practicing good hygiene. You may need to provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in appropriate locations, such as entry and exits, workstations and other areas if there are limited hand washing facilities available.
Washroom facilities must be properly stocked and have adequate supplies of toilet paper, soap, water, and drying facilities (preferably single-use paper towels). They must also be kept clean and in good working order.
When determining what facilities you need consider the number of workers on site, the shift arrangements and when access to these facilities is required. If you have temporarily down-sized worker numbers in response to COVID-19 and these will now be increased, you must take this into account to determine the facilities you need before workers return to work.
Why are paper towels preferred over hand dryers?
Paper towels are preferable as they can reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by drying the hands more thoroughly than hand dryers.
Hand dryers can still be used, however, there is an increased risk of transmission if hands are not dried properly.
I am providing paper towels in my workplace. What else should I do?
Providing paper towels to dry your hands after washing them is better than using hand dryers because they can dry your hands more thoroughly. If you provide single used paper towels at your workplace, remember:
- the paper towels should be replenished as required, and
- used paper towels should be disposed of in a waste bin that is regularly emptied to keep the area clean, tidy and safe.
Wastes (including used paper towels) should be double bagged and set aside in a safe place for at least 72 hours before disposal into general waste facilities. For further information regarding cleaning, please refer to our cleaning guide.
What if I can’t provide paper towels?
If paper towels cannot be provided, then hand dryers may be used to dry hands. You must train workers on how to dry their hands. Placing posters near hand dryers may assist with communicating the need for hands to be dried completely. If hands are not dried completely, good hygiene will not be achieved, and the hand washing will be ineffective.
Frequently touched areas of the hand dryers (i.e. buttons to activate the drying mechanism of the hand dryer) and the entire body of the dryer should be cleaned regularly. Nearby surfaces (such as the sink and taps) should also be cleaned regularly to remove any germs that may have been spread when drying hands.