When we think of areas that are ridden with bacteria we normally think of toilet seats. The fridge drawer that has some strange substance in the corner. The nasty gym bag in the boot of the car.
But would you ever consider your office worktops to be a breeding ground for germs? Surely not you say as you look down at your neatly arranged desk, with your pen pots and post-it notes.
But think again, because a recent study carried out by The Cleaning Services Group, has claimed that the average office desk is 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat.
If that’s not enough to put you off your lunch, then I don’t know what is!
Why are we like this?
According to the study, 8 in 10 people in the UK work in offices. Those 8 out of 10 people spend an average of 8 hours a day. 5 days a week. In their offices.
So why do we slack when it comes to office hygiene?
Is it due to the fact that it isn’t our home? We care a bit less? It isn’t our job to clean the office?
Well I’m sorry to break it to ya, but the office in covered with germs and if you want to avoid falling ill then you need to take on some responsibility when it comes to hygiene in the office.
What’s the worst that can happen?
The risks from poor office hygiene are much more of an issue than people give credit.
Sure the risk of getting the cold or flu increases, everyone knows that. But what about everyone’s least favourite friend the norovirus, better known as the stomach bug? Or even worse Hep A&B or Influenza!
You might think it’s not a big deal, you can sniffle your way through your shift, and at worse take a day or two off work.
But if you’re taking a day off work then who is picking up your work?
Productivity decreases as people are stretched or “sniffling their way through work”.
Morals are low and stress increases when staff are absent or sick.
And what about absenteeism? In one year in the UK 131 million days were lost due to sickness, costing the economy £29 BILLION.
Not only can bad office hygiene make you sick, make others sick, and decrease productivity, it can also cause arguments.
And to think, most of this is avoidable with some common sense and by promoting a healthy and hygienic office environment.
Where did we all go wrong?
There is a common misconception that infections are spread through coughing and sneezing.
That only accounts for some of it, actually a whopping 80% of infections are spread through contaminated surfaces.
So the surfaces that people touch most are where the germs are lurking in their thousands if not millions! And unfortunately bacteria and viruses can survive on hard surfaces for up to 72hrs. Plenty of time to spread through the entire office.
A shuddering statistic has been established that 32% of office workers don’t wash their hands after visiting the toilet! And these are the hands that come in contact with more than 10 million bacteria per day! So you can imagine how easy it is for germs to spread.
The most commonly touched surfaces in the workspace is Your Worktop Desk.
The average office desk has more than 10 million bacteria hiding on it, with your keyboard containing 3, 295 bacteria per square inch and the mouse adding an extra 1676 per square inch to. To contrast this, the average toilet seat only has a lowly 49 bacteria microbes per square inch.
And would you eat your lunch of a toilet seat? No, that’s disgusting! Yet 2 out of 3 office workers eat at their bacteria ridden desks, and 1 out of 5 don’t even wipe it down before doing so.
Other common shared surfaces would be the office telephone, the microwave buttons and handles, the printer or copier and of course door handles.
One person carrying a virus will infect 50% of all equipment and employees in their vicinity in just FOUR HOURS!
Who is responsible?
Everyone in the office is responsible to ensure their is a healthy and hygienic working environment.
- Communicate the facts with staff
- Provide solutions – bins, wipes, cleaning stations
- Ensure cleaning regimes are in place – targeted to communal areas
- Involve staff to take accountability
- Take personal responsibility for their own personal hygiene as well as their own workspace
- Involve yourself in the cleaning regimes
- Prevent the spread of infections by being responsible
- Call in sick if you have an illness that can be spread to others
- Stop sharing things like pens etc
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