Why Colour Coding Is Essential For Workplace Hygiene

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In the UK, during the late 1990s, the British Institute of Cleaning Science developed a “universal” code for cleaning. It was recommended that the cleaning equipment for any business should be coded to be designated to certain areas. It is important to implement this system into any business as it reduces the spread of germs across areas, and increases hygiene throughout a business or home.  The four main colours used to separate out areas such as bars, public areas, kitchen & food preparation areas and washrooms, are red, blue, green and yellow.

What do the colours mean?

Blue – Blue can be applied to low risk areas, such as office work stations. 1 in 5 office workers don’t clean their desks before and after eating which is alarming as the average work desk is 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat.

Green – Green products are used for general food and kitchen use. It is essential that the kitchen/ dining area of a business is kept cleaned and not contaminated as it can cause illness. 25% of draining boards, 30% of microwaves and 40% of kettles are contaminated with dangerous levels of bacteria.

Red – Red is for bathroom floors, toilets and sanitary fittings. Sanitary bins harbour one of the highest concentrations of germs within female rest rooms. This is followed by the floor, the sinks and the underside of the toilet seat.

Yellow – Yellow should not be confused or mixed with red equipment. Yellow is for use in clinical settings. While red products are used for washroom toilets and floors, yellow products are used for other washroom surfaces and sinks, ensuring no cross-contamination between the two. 45% of British office workers have been shocked by the state of a bathroom, and a quarter (25%) have been so shocked they left without even using the facilities.

What are the benefits of colour coding?

Implementing a colour coded range of cleaning equipment can have many benefits for the livelihood of your business. These include:

  • Reducing Cross Contamination
    Colour coding equipment specific to its zone is important for safety. So equipment should be kept in the areas specific for its use, reducing chances of cross contamination. If an item, let’s say for example a mop, is used to clean a bathroom floor and then a kitchen floor, harmful germs will be spread. This can lead to various illnesses within the workplace.
  • Following the Law
    Implementing the correct cleaning procedures is a part of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Therefore, if you have a colour coded system in place you are complying with the law, and safe from costly fines of up to £20,000.
  • Good first impressions
    When an individual of importance enters your doors, what are the first things they notice? A clean and professional looking work environment will make the best impression.
  • Happier employees
    A clean working environment can improve an employee’s state of mind and overall working satisfaction. With all those hours spent daily in the office, it becomes essential for the office environment to be clean and hygienic at all times.

Overall, it is important you keep the colour warnings in mind when cleaning. It’s a great way to train staff and to stay safe. Cross contamination is a problem that many cleaning organisations face and with a simple system of colour coding you can soon eradicate those problems.

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