What does hygiene mean and why is it important?

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The word hygiene is of Greek origin - hugieine tekhne - meaning the 'art of health'.

Keeping staff and visitors healthy has to be a priority in any business, particularly with the onset of new illnesses such as the Swine Flu H1N1. Hand washing, when done correctly is the single most important means of reducing your chances of getting sick. 

Throughout the day your hands come into contact with numerous different objects. The germs picked up from other people, contaminated surfaces, food and animals will build up on your hands and be transferred into your body by touching your nose or mouth. The simple act of washing your hands with soap and water or with a hand sanitiser significantly reduces your chances of picking up germs such as the common cold, flu, and many gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting.

A survey organised by Dr Greg Simmons, Auckland Medical Officer of Health showed that the New Zealand public are not washing their hands effectively (http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/publications/food-focus/2008-02/page-13.htm). The survey showed that 92% of women and 81% of men made an attempt to wash their hands after toileting and only 71% of these used soap. These statistics are frightening. If we don't wash our hands correctly we are transferring a multitude of germs to our family, friends, co-workers and the wider community. Using water alone is not an effective means of washing your hands.

It is estimated that it costs New Zealand business around $2 billion a year in staff illness, injury and absenteeism.

What is it costing your business to have sick staff, either away for the day or working at half pace? A simple and effective hygiene system in place at work will save you time and money!

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