The major causes of work absenteeism are colds and ‘flu and the major contributor to the spread of these lurgies is poor hand hygiene. That’s according to an independent survey of UK office workers by Bradford University.
But while most workers (87%) recognise the importance of hand-washing in preventing the spread of infection, a small 13 percent see hand drying as similarly important.
The study also estimated the cost of sickness to the economy. On average, a UK office worker takes six days off sick each year, although managers tend to underestimate this figure at three days. Taking into account replacement labour such as other staff members or temp agency workers, administration costs and additional management time, the Bradford study estimated a £2.6 billion cost to the economy covering ill workers each year.
How can the cost of absenteeism through infection be cut?
Say Dr Tom Jefferson of the Cochrane Collaboration,“Cheap, old-fashioned methods can be very effective in cutting your risk of catching flu – and that includes thorough hand drying on a disposable Paper towel. Perhaps that it is why it is rarely considered at senior management level. But the numbers suggest that it should be.”