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How do we ensure workers practise good hygiene?

Q: We have a delicate situation in relation to personal hygiene within our company. We receive many complaints about the men’s toilets. The complaints relate to urine on the floor, excessive pubic hairs in the urinals, excrement on the walls and floor, and boot marks on the toilet seats.

To date, we have added motion-activated hand dryers, installed signs to remind people to wash their hands, and we always ensure there is plenty of toilet paper, air freshener and handwash available.

We have workers concerned about their health when they share workspaces in the workshop, which involves using machines, workbenches and hand tools. Some workers avoid using the toilets unless absolutely necessary and won’t even have biscuits from the barrel as they are worried whose hands may have been in there before them.

We wish to raise this matter at a safety meeting and cover personal hygiene. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A: Safe Work Australia has outlined that all workers have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety so that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of others. Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction, and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety in the workplace.

Safe Work Australia’s Code of Practice, Managing the Work Environment and Facilities, also sets out helpful guidelines for welfare and facilities dealing with personal hygiene.

In raising these matters at a safety meeting, it is important to ensure that individual workers are not subjected to conduct that would make them feel uncomfortable, isolated or insecure, as this can be a form ofp victimisation and/or discrimination. At the same time, it is important to encourage all of your workers to implement good hygiene practises, as it helps to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

We also recommend you review chapter Hygiene.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Hygiene for current advice

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