Breaking down the five best methods for ensuring your Hygiene Team is prioritised, productive, and protected.

With a steadily decreasing number of people making their way into food and beverage production, the subject of employee retention has never been more important. To ensure your factory is running smoothly and meeting all of its targets, it’s vital that you are able to attract skilled and enthusiastic individuals to your site. It is also incredibly important that you are able to retain your existing workforce. For a Hygiene Manager this can be particularly difficult, as your team will typically be working late night shifts in a cold and damp environment.

So how do you secure their hard work and loyalty?

The answer is to protect them. Essentially, you need to make sure that your Hygiene Team has everything they need to thrive. From protective clothing to the right equipment, investing in their experience at your site could save you a significant amount of time, money, and effort in the longrun.

Below is a list of our top five suggestions for protecting the operatives at your factory. We would be happy to guide you through each point, but there is also the option of skipping to the section most relevant to your needs.

1. Ensure you have clear and visible signage

Visual Management is a fail-safe way to connect with workers of all skill levels, along with operatives that don’t have English as their first language. These attention-grabbing signs convey admin information such as shift changeovers, site plans, and KPIs. They can also feature important instructions surrounding visual standards, quality standards, and waste control. 

But how does Visual Management relate to the protection of your Hygiene Team? 

Safety Signs

Perhaps the most common example of Visual Management, safety signs address everything from emergency exits and security notices to chemical warnings and fire safety. They are a great tool for ensuring your Hygiene Team understands exactly how to move around your site, especially if an emergency occurs. 

Without safety signs, it will be impossible for you to meet the relevant health and safety specifications. You will also struggle to nurture a culture of care and accountability. With this in mind, we would recommend taking a tour of your site and identifying areas where additional safety signs could be introduced, and any damaged signs could be replaced.    

Health & Safety Signs

Although Health and Safety signs are a great way for you to take accountability for the wellbeing of your workers, they also allow you to share this accountability with your team. Whether you need your operatives to wear helmets and high vis or take off their jewellery and lock away their phones, health and safety signs will make your expectations incredibly clear. They will also encourage your workers to hold each other accountable, raising any issues if a team member fails to take the proper precautions. Just remember to keep these signs as clear and colourful as possible.

Changing Procedure Signs

If you don’t already have signs at your site to outline the proper changing procedures, now is the time to take that step. Featuring plenty of clear photographs to support your points, these signs will act as a daily reminder to your team of what they should be wearing and when they should be wearing it. They will also be extremely helpful for agency staff who are new to your site.

2. Equip your Hygiene Team with High Quality Washdown Clothing 

As a Hygiene Manager, you have likely already discovered that the majority of PPE fails to reflect the specific needs of a hygiene team. Instead of benefiting from the proper protection of high quality clothing, workers are often forced to make do with coveralls that are difficult to get in and out of, restrict their movement, and struggle to stand up against the intense working conditions of a hygiene operative. 

So, what’s the solution?

Designed by Hygiene Teams for Hygiene Teams, the WashGuard range offers an excellent opportunity for you to further protect your workforce. Worn primarily by night hygiene teams and operatives working out of a washroom, this collection provides all the chemical resistance you would expect from your protective clothing, but with increased moveability, increased productivity, and reduced sweating from inside the garments. Without compromising on safety, the range has been developed to be as lightweight as possible, allowing your operatives to be comfortable, move around with ease, and avoid accidents.

Due to the quality of these garments, there is a higher upfront cost, but this will be offset by the fact that the WashGuard range is more durable than its peers – slower to degrade from regular use, frequent cleans, and even time in the tumble dryer. Employee retention could also be viewed as a significant saving, something that will be much easier to achieve if you are sending such a clear signal that you care about your hygiene team and have a willingness to invest in their protection. What’s more the improved productivity of your workforce will further reduce your overall costs.

Below are the different products included in the WashGuard range, you can click on the images to learn more about each item:

WashGuard Bib & Braces

  • Elasticated ankles for watertight fit 
  • Adjustable quick-release shoulder straps 
  • Reflective stripes 
  • Sewn & welded seams 

WashGuard Coveralls

  • Elasticated cuffs and ankles 
  • Reflective stripes 
  • Sewn & welded seams 
  • Integral hood with adjustable cord

WashGuard Jackets

  • Integral hood with adjustable cord
  • Elasticated cuffs 
  • Reflective stripes 
  • Sewn & welded seams 
  • Covered zip

WashGuard Trousers

  • Elasticated Waist
  • Reflective Stipes
  • Sewn & welded seams

WashGuard Aprons

  • Adjustable ties
  • Extra generous width
  • Sewn & welded seams

WashGuard Gloves

  • Welded seams for durability
  • Won’t irritate the skin
  • Tactile feel and better grip

WashGuard Boots

  • Cushioned heel
  • Steel toecaps
  • Anti-static, slip resistant & insulated for warmth
  • Fuel oil resistant outsole

WashGuard Safety Glasses

  • Anti-fog coating
  • 99% UVA/B/C protection
  • Temples adjust to three different lengths
  • Wrap around lens

WashGuard Repair Kit

A quick and easy method for repairing your WashGuard 170 chemical protection gear, helping you to extend the life span of your coveralls

3. Provide Ongoing Training for your Operatives

The next step is to provide ongoing training for your team. This training should also factor in the needs of agency staff who may be new to your site and only with you for a couple of days. Instead of leaving the protection of your hygiene team open to confusion, you need to make sure an individual with no prior knowledge of your processes has as much chance of understanding your health and safety procedures as a long standing employee.

As previously mentioned, Visual Management is a fantastic way to do this. You should also find out from the suppliers of your equipment and cleaning products if they have any resources, particularly instructional videos, that you can share with your operatives. Another idea is to re-evaluate the Cleaning Instruction Cards at your site. If they don’t already have plenty of pictures and all of the key information to ensure your team is carrying out their work safely and correctly, this is something you need to resolve immediately. Phil May, the Technical Support & Hygiene Manager at Greencore, provided a comprehensive guide to writing CICs in the premiere episode of his podcast: The Hygiene Hustle. Phil also took part in a recent Klipspringer webinar on the engagement and retention of your hygiene team. Both of these free resources should prove invaluable when it comes to providing ongoing training and support for your operatives.

4. Make First Aid a Priority

As you will already know, there is an expectation for you to have the relevant first aid equipment at your site. However, when it comes to protecting your Hygiene Team, it’s important to move beyond the basics, taking time to evaluate your current approach to first aid. One of the best ways to do this is to remind yourself of the equipment already at your factory and to expand your resources wherever possible.

First Aid Kits

It’s important that the First Aid Kits at your site are in line with British Standards – featuring essentials such as bandages, sterile wipes, and gloves. Most kits are available in sizes small, medium, and large, so you will need to factor in the number of operatives in your Hygiene Team. Another consideration is where your kit is going to be stored and potentially used. If either the kit or the equipment inside it is likely to be exposed to wet or damp conditions, something that is likely in a hygiene department, a Weatherproof option could be the best choice. 

Ancillary First Aid Items

There are also a number of ancillary items that you should consider adding to your first aid kit:

Instant Ice Packs: convenient application of heat or cold to painful areas of the body.

Finger Protection & Adhesive Strapping Tape: the former protects from cuts and abrasions. Its bright blue shade has been picked with visual detection in mind. Also blue, the latter can be used to hold bandages in place, create pressure over a wound, and prevent contamination.

Hot/Cold Pack: quick and easy way to use cold therapy to reduce swelling and tissue damage caused by an injury.

Eyewash Systems

With your Hygiene Team handling harsh chemicals, it is likely that you are already familiar with Eye Wash Stations. If you are looking to upgrade this aspect of your operation, one choice is an Eyewash Pod Dispensing Station. This station holds easily accessible pods and pads, along with a mirror to assist application. Alternatively, if you prefer bottles to pods, the Standard Eyewash Station has space for two 500ml containers. The next step is to create a Shadow Board for your station to be mounted on, so even a panicked operative can easily find the equipment. 

5. Ensure your Equipment is Safe & User-Friendly 

Finally, you need to make sure the equipment at your site is safe and user-friendly. Failing to do this will not only slow down and frustrate your Hygiene Team but could also result in ongoing discomfort or serious injury. Imagine one of your operatives is using a damaged bucket. Replacing this bucket with a durable alternative that boasts an ergonomic handle will reduce the risk of something spilling across the floor; slowing down your team or causing an operative to slip. Another example is a team member who deals with the daily struggle of cleaning a high up area of your factory; straining their arms and back to reach around awkward pipework. A lightweight, telescopic handle affixed to a pipework brush will solve this problem immediately. 

Once you have worked your way through your equipment, identifying potential problems and solutions, you will need to think about the way in which your utensils are being stored and maintained. Even the best tools could put your team at risk if they are used incorrectly or disrespected by your operatives. Colour-coded equipment, detailed Cleaning Instruction Cards, and Shadow Board Storage Solutions are all great ways to drive accountability, as your Hygiene Team will know exactly what to use, how to use it, and where to find it. Depending on the size of your site, you could even use IndeliMarking to add the names of each operative to their allocated equipment. This should result in them taking even better care of their utensils and reporting any damage immediately. 

Protecting your Hygiene Team is all about problem solving – whether that’s addressing the existing issues at your site or safeguarding against future hazards. To win the trust of your workforce, you need to send a clear message that you care about their comfort, want to support them in their duties, and will prioritise their safety at every turn. As discussed in this article, you will be able to do this through investment in Visual Management, Protective Clothing, Ongoing Training, First Aid, and High Quality Equipment.  

If you would like to learn more about how Klipspringer can support you in each of these areas, you can contact our team on 01473 461800 or Alternatively, you can use the form below to arrange a free consultation.  

If you would like further guidance relating to the advice shared in this article, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below to arrange a free consultation.