Skip to content Skip to navigation menu


Expert guidance to help reduce the risk of Norovirus in the workplace.

Norovirus is a highly infectious illness that causes gastroenteritis (severe vomiting and diarrhoea) that starts suddenly. People of all ages can get infected and sick. Where possible, appropriate infection control measures should be observed, and standard precautions should always be applied consistently in all work practices.

At Arco, we can help you to effectively implement preventative control measures that can help in the protection of employees when in close contact with people and environments where Norovirus is suspected.


Norovirus outbreaks can occur at any time of the year; however, it is referred to as "the winter vomiting bug" due to the seasonal pattern it follows as there is increased virus activity in the colder months.


Different strains of Norovirus known to affect humans

600,000 to 1,000,000

People are estimated to catch Norovirus each year in the UK1


cases of Norovirus linked to food occur every year, estimated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA)2

People can get Norovirus more than once because the virus is always changing. Due to this, the body is unable to build up long-term resistance to it.


Norovirus is easily transmitted through:

Contact with infected individuals from one person to another
Norovirus is a purely human pathogen and infected individuals will excrete the virus in their stools and vomit. People may be unaware they are infected. A single vomit can spray tiny particles through the air - although these will not be generally visible, particles can travel quite far within a room before settling to contaminate surfaces and objects some distance from the individual.
Consuming contaminated water or food
Norovirus particles are microscopic and cannot be seen or tasted in foods. Food is very easily contaminated by direct contact with an ill person or being prepared on contaminated surfaces. Unlike food poisoning bacteria do not grow on food but can survive in foods and use the food as a vehicle to gain access to living tissue. Live foods such as contaminated shellfish; salad foods irrigated with wastewater; shared boxes of biscuits, chocolates, fruit.
Contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
Hands will then contaminate any surface they encounter. Norovirus is resistant to some cleaning chemicals and may survive within the environment for several days


Norovirus is typically at its most infectious from the start of symptoms until around 48 hours after symptoms have stopped, which is why it's recommended to remain at home during this time as not to infect other people.

The first sign of Norovirus is usually:

  • suddenly feeling sick
  • projectile vomiting
  • watery non-bloody diarrhoea

Some people may also have:

  • a raised temperature (over 38°C)
  • headache
  • painful stomach cramps
  • aching limbs
Symptoms Check List

It is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout illness to prevent dehydration.

Symptoms are typically mild and only last for a couple of days. There's no specific treatment for Norovirus, however seek medical advice if needed.

Managing Risks

People who have Norovirus should be advised to stay at home, avoid direct contact with other people and preparing food for others for at least 48 hours after symptoms have cleared to help reduce the risk of passing Norovirus on.

Don't wait for several cases of sickness and diarrhoea to occur before you put controls in place to prevent the spread of an outbreak. Develop an action plan. Be prepared! If an outbreak occurs swift and effective action is essential to prevent more people becoming exposed to Norovirus and to prevent an outbreak increasing in size. This is best achieved by implementing the following simple preventative actions every day.

Hand Hygiene

Regular and frequent handwashing with soap and warm water is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

Up to 80% of all infections are transmitted by our hands throughout the day1.

Hands should be washed thoroughly for at least 20 seconds altogether (rinsing and lathering). Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands, so hands should be dried thoroughly preferably with disposable paper hand towels. Paper hand towels can also be used to turn the tap off after use. Dispose used hand towels immediately after use.

Do not share food or eat any items that may have been prepared by someone with Norovirus.

Hand Hygiene

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Effective cleaning is one of the single most important factors in reducing the spread of Norovirus as the virus can survive for several days on surfaces and objects touched by an infected person.

After cleaning, disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated, including any high-touch points. Even a small amount of Norovirus on a banister or door handle can cause illness.

Wear protective gloves and use a chlorine bleach (hypochlorite) solution made to BS 5197 or BS 6424, or a disinfectant that's effective against Norovirus3. The preferred disinfectant is 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (1000 parts per million available Chlorine)3. This applies to areas where a person has vomited as well as washrooms.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Clean Up

It is important to clean up any hazardous bodily fluids such as faeces and vomit as soon as possible. Disturb soiled material as little as possible to avoid spreading Norovirus by air. Place soiled items in plastic bags and place them in the bin. Remove and wash clothes that may be contaminated.

Body fluid kit contains the necessary products to ensure that the affected area can be cleaned effectively and made safe.

Clean Up


We're here to help ensure you have the right information, control measures and products to create a safer working environment.

Recommended Products

At Arco, we offer a comprehensive range of products designed to help keep you, your employees and visitors safe from workplace illnesses such as Norovirus.

Sources and Useful References

All Expert Advice