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June 2018

An interview with a Technical Hygiene expert

Written by Nicole Horne
Ask the Expert

In our seventh installment of our “Ask the Expert” series, we interviewed Deon Lubbe, our very own technical hygiene expert for Initial hygiene, based in Port Elizabeth.

1. You are the resident “go-to” person in PE (and SA!) when we need an expert opinion on any type of hygiene issue. Tell us a little about your background, and how you came to be in this field.

I started at Rentokil Initial Port Elizabeth in April 1994 (at the tender age of 21) as a Initial technician, and had to become comfortable immediately with going into ladies toilets and servicing feminine hygiene units. Two years later I progressed to a pest control officer, and later, to an Initial hygiene supervisor.

After gaining valuable experience in all fields of the Rentokil Initial business I took on the challenge of being a Branch Manager for the Empangeni branch for two years.  This truly assisted my personal growth in the business. I returned to the PE branch in 2003 as branch manager and enjoyed growing the business alongside my colleagues for 8 years.

In 2012 I applied for the position of Initial Technical Manager and since then I have been fortunate to be able to add ongoing value to Rentokil Initial and our clients.

2. What makes you excited about health and hygiene and everything in between?

At Rentokil Initial we place a great importance on quality which cannot be done without health and hygiene being an integral part of our work and private lives. By maintaining high levels of health and hygiene in our workplace and on our clients’ premises, we not only take good care of ourselves, but we also show our clients that we value and protect their health, hygiene and business.

3. Based on your experience, what is the primary concern businesses face in terms of hygiene in the workplace?

The lack of basic workplace hygiene awareness is a great risk to many businesses.

It exposes employees to harmful cross contamination risks which can have negative health consequences for individual employees and visitors, thus impacting a businesses’ bottom line.

Basic workplace hygiene awareness combined with critical cubicle and hand hygiene products is the first and last line of defense for minimising the constant threat of cross contamination from the bathroom and other commonly used workplace areas.

4. Share a hygiene horror story or two with our readers

Clients often call us to say that our FHU’s (Feminine Hygiene Units) are smelly, even after a recent service. On almost every occasion after an investigation, we find food (or what is left of it ) inside the sanitary bins. Food is not really compatible with the FHU preparation, hence the odour problem!

This means people sit and eat inside a toilet cubicle while other people are doing their business on either side, which makes me wonder what sort of thinking led them to decide that a toilet seat would be the best and most peaceful place to enjoy a lovely sandwich...?

This ties into the horror story Dianne Luck was telling us about in a previous blog! This is much more of a common occurrence than we would like to see!

5. What is the most important aspect to keep in mind in terms of hygiene in the office environment?

Hands and surfaces! These two aspects are responsible for 99% of all cross contamination and most of the time it is completely unintentional:

  • from surface, to hand, to mouth
  • or from surface, to hand, to another person's hand and mouth again

People constantly touch surfaces that they don't really need to touch, in addition to those they have to touch (like door handles). Very often, due to our habits, we touch these surfaces in the same place as most other people in shared spaces! Within seconds the entire workplace could be contaminated or you could pass bacteria to a colleague through a friendly handshake.

Find out about the unhygienic corners of your office. 

6. What role do colleagues play in workplace hygiene?

Colleagues play a critical role in workplace hygiene. They need to be aware, or made aware, of common hygiene risks and good personal hygiene practices after using the bathroom, before and after eating.

High levels of personal and workplace (bathroom and work area) hygiene will not only protect you, but also those around you.

7. If you had to suggest only one change that businesses should make to keep colleagues healthy, what would it be?

Invest in keeping bathrooms fresh, clean and fully equipped to ensure the highest possible levels of bathroom hygiene and user protection for colleagues and visitors.

The most successful businesses invest heavily in ensuring that the bathroom experience is something that would not detract from the company image or workplace standards, as this could demoralise colleagues, or be the cause of workplace acquired illnesses.

Good hygiene practices and hygienic facilities show that your business really cares for its staff which, in most cases, assists in delivering the desired business outcomes.


Do you have a question for our experts?

Fill in the form and we’ll try our best to answer them in the next “Ask an Expert” blog series.

Nicole Horne

Nicole Horne

Nicole is a Digital Marketing Executive at Rentokil Initial Hygiene in Johannesburg. A self-proclaimed germaphobe, her love for hygienic environments and curiosity of all things “beneath the surface” fuels her enthusiasm for writing about the impact of germs in the workplace. She is passionate about creating awareness and sharing her knowledge on the impact of good hygiene practices. Follow Nicole on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates on the the good, the bad and the germy.

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