As well as being Halloween, the 31st of October offers a chance to talk about some other horrifying beasts and creatures, head lice. National Bug Busting Day is an annual event which aims to educate parents and families about detecting and preventing head lice and stopping them in their tracks. Whilst there are plenty of discussions around preventing head lice in schools, it’s also important to discuss their effect on the workplace, as well as the importance of practicing good hygiene to prevent bugs in the form of viruses and other illnesses.

 

Head lice in the workplace

Many people associate head lice with school children, particularly those aged 4-11, but parents of affected children, as well as those who’ve got them from other sources, can easily transmit them to the workplace. As they can be small and hard to detect, the most telling sign of head lice tends to be itching of the scalp. Other warnings signs include:

  • small white eggs (known as nits) in the hair
  • a visible rash on the back of the neck
  • the feeling that something is moving in the hair

Head lice are passed on through head to head contact, making office environments an ideal place for them to spread. They are not caused by poor hygiene; therefore prevention through regular checking is the best way to stop them from spreading. It’s important that if you do notice head lice in the workplace, that you seek treatment for yourself. It is also a good idea to notify HR so that they can discreetly alert others in your office. Find out more about head lice and how to treat them via the NHS website.

 

Practicing good hygiene in the workplace

Demonstrating good hygiene in the workplace is not only important for you, but for the wellbeing of your colleagues too. Some good tips for ensuring this include:

  • Clean your hands regularly, using antibacterial soap where possible. It’s important to do so after handling food, going to the toilet and especially after sneezing, blowing your nose and coughing.
  • Use antibacterial wipes to wipe over areas such as your keyboard, mouse, screen and especially your desk telephone and mobile phone – these are often neglected when it comes to keeping things clean and could help to stop bacteria spreading around the office.
  • Avoid eating at your desk if you can. Your desk is a hotbed of germs and bacteria (and worse if you hot desk). Avoid this by going elsewhere to eat. Getting away from your desk for a period is good for you, and will help you feel more alert and awake ready to start the afternoon.
  • Make sure communal areas are clean, especially food preparation areas. Don’t leave dirty dishes and cutlery for someone else to clean and remember to wash your mug out regularly too.
  • If you reuse a water bottle, make sure you give it a thorough clean to stop bacteria in its tracks. Glass and metal varieties tend to be more hygienic than plastic bottles, but ensuring they’re cleaned regularly will help stop bacteria spreading.

With winter almost upon us, it’s more important than ever to practice good hygiene and make sure that your workspace is clean to help stop the spread of germs amongst you and your colleagues. For more information about practicing good hygiene, the NHS has some great tips, which you may want to share during cold and flu season.