Where are the hidden germs in your office?

Avoiding germs, bacteria and co-workers with flu like symptoms often seems like an impossible task whilst working within an office environment. The constant exchange of paperwork within confined meeting rooms make it almost impossible to dodge the dreaded office flu.

The bottle of hand sanitizer you have at your desk may be a good line of defence, but we have also listed six places where you may consider avoiding, and don’t worry the toilet seat isn’t one of them. “People wipe it down all the time.” according to Charles Gerba a Microbiologist from the University of Arizona.

Your Personal Space
Gerba found that the office telephone is the single dirtiest part of the office. Apparently “Nobody ever cleans or disinfects the office phone.” So now when you’re cleaning your office phone (and headset), then ensure that you wipe down your desk and keyboard, especially if you’re a very busy person who insists on eating your lunch at your desk on your ‘break’. If not you may be adding a side-dish of flu to your sandwich.

Break-room Surfaces
If you’re the type of employee who likes to escape their desk for their well deserved lunch break, not only to take your eyes away from your computer screen but also to escape the nasty germs talked about in the above category, then you may not be completely safe. Research shows that objects in the ‘break room’ such as coffee pots, sinks, refrigerator handles and microwave handles are some of the dirtiest parts of the typical workspace. On average these items have at least four times the bacteria levels of the average toilet seat. (Who knew a toilet seat was so clean?!)

Meeting Rooms
The dreaded meeting room, not only are they the birth place of ideas and creativity, research shows that it is also the birth place of germs and bacteria. People and germs tend to meet and mingle within this confined space. The fact that people meet and mingle here isn’t the main reason that this room is on our list, the main reason being that people tend to start and finish a meeting with a handshake. The handshake is a superbly efficient way to transmit germs. The bottle of hand sanitizer lurking in your desk drawer should be used before and after meetings in order to stop bringing germs back to your office space and into ‘your personal space’.

Buttons People Push
Buttons for the lift, photocopiers or coffeemakers are the same as handshakes, they pass germs like its their job. We suggest start wearing gloves around the office and into meetings….not really, but we do suggest washing your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds, which is proven to be more effective than that hand sanitizer you have in your drawer. If you are the boss and in charge of the purse strings, then we do suggest upgrading to some touch free fixtures and fittings such as motion censored soap and hand towel dispensers.

The Office Biscuit Bowl
In a story for ABCNews, Gerba said he foundintestinal bacteria (the kind found in human waste) in one employees biscuit bowl. You could opt to kill two health birds with one stone by skipping the office treats. I bet that biscuit you were just about to indulge in doesn’t look as appealing now. Sorry.

Your Commute
Research has shown that 60% of fuel pumps carry large amounts of illness-causing bacteria. If you stop for fuel, coffee or cash out of an ATM, your first stop when you reach the office should be the toilets to scrub in.

Our Solutions
If tend to spend more hours in the office than you do at your own home then you really should be convincing your boss to hire a commercial cleaning company. A cleaning company worth their salt should provide you with a task schedule of what they will clean and in what timescale. This should include tasks such as sanitizing the telephones, if the cleaners don’t do it, then whose job is it? Find out more reasons on the ‘why choose us’ section on our webpage. Hopefully it will result in you spending less money on hand sanitizer every month.


Source – Amy Levin-Epstein, moneywatch, February 24th 2012.

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