Have you ever considered that there are obvious germ-infested places and objects hiding in plain sight around you at work? A recent study found that the kitchen sponge is the most germ-infested item in homes and cafeterias, harboring thousands of bacteria. Another study states that a working adult touches as many as 30 contaminated objects every 60 seconds. This points to something we might not take seriously, beyond keeping our workspaces clean – office hygiene.
The toilet seat has 41 germs per square inch. Desktops have 21,000 germs per square inch.
It is mind numbing really, and considering that we touch things deemed ‘harmless’ before touching our faces and food, one can only imagine what we let in or pass on.
Since the office is an enclosed environment, where people work and interact with one another in close proximity, there’s a higher risk of spreading germs. This can quickly lead to localized outbreaks of illnesses like cold among a larger number of people.
5 most infested office areas
- Office kitchen sink-faucet handles
- Microwave and refrigerator door handles
- Office desk and computer keyboards
- Office door handles
- Light switches
What can you do?
It’s established that our hands are responsible for the spread of 80% of common infectious diseases. Therefore effective hand hygiene is the smartest, most cost effective means of infection control in the workplace.
Clean your keyboard: Most office cleaning companies would clean the desks and surrounding areas while avoiding computers or keyboards because they don’t want to risk damaging office equipment. Hygiene, in this case, is usually left to the employee, and many don’t bother. You can use an alcohol-based sanitizer to clean your keyboard; just use a cloth and don’t let it drip into any openings. Simply wiping the dust off your office computer will not remove the bacteria clinging to the surface.
Protect your face: The most touched area on our body is the face. Office workers touch their faces an average of 18 times an hour. Every time we do this, we risk carrying the invisible germs from our keyboards, desktops or phones right to our respiratory and digestive systems every three and a half minutes. Bacteria and viruses couldn’t ask for a better transportation system, with you being their driver.
Dispose of unwanted food: a lot of workers often eat at their desks or store food and snacks in the drawer. This makes it possible for crumbs to accumulate and provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Littered work areas can pose hazards to a worker’s health and are a liability to the business. Best practice is to clean as frequently as possible or avoid storing food in your desk altogether.
Remember, being hygiene-conscious is one of the keys to staying healthy and regardless of where you are, taking certain measures might be what stands between you and an illness.