Is Your Office Dirtier than you Think? Top 10 Spots for Germs at Work
Cleanliness in the workplace is more important than ever before, can you identify the hotspots for germs?
The average office doesn’t seem like the kind of place you’re going to get sick, but you could be wrong, It all depends on the cleaning protocols in place and whether you and your workmates are actually aware of just how easily germs can spread and where they quickly become happy and thrive. Coronavirus has taught us a lot about hygiene and infection control and every year flu season is seriously dangerous, but there are still offices where basic hygiene standards are being ignored.
Most people probably imagine that toilet bowls and garbage cans are home to the highest levels of bacteria and infection risks but research shows otherwise. While hand sanitizer and contact-free access may becoming normal, there are still standards to keep in mind and we think you’ll be shocked to hear the top ten germiest (and so hazardous) spots in the average office in this country.
1. Faucet Handles
Specifically, those faucet handles in the breakroom. Breakrooms are a hotspot for bacteria as so many people are in and out, without washing their hands, eating and touching surfaces without thinking. Kimberly-Clark’s study into germs in the workplace found 75% of all breakroom faucet hands were high risk for spreading illness. They found 91% should be disinfected, which shows just how risky they can be when germs are left without cleaning. Hand sanitizer is the absolute minimum you should use after using a communal sink.
2. Communal Microwave Handles
People using the microwave may have just handled their food, be touching their face and their mouth and generally not thinking about the germs spread onto the handles and microwave when they use it. Lunchroom microwaves are used hundreds of times a week which is hundreds of opportunities to germs to build up and cause that serious health hazard. Microwave interiors are the ideal breeding ground for bacteria who need warmth, moisture, and food to multiply. It’s an urban myth that microwaves can kill bacteria, heat does that.
3. Headsets and Microphones
Your job may involve needing to use a headset to answer or make calls or you may regularly use microphone equipment. This is worn so close to your face, will come in contact with your breathe and moisture droplets and so, if not properly clean is another perfect home for bacteria to thrive in. Headsets become home to hair fibers, sweat, earwax and more unpalatable bodily excretions if not cleaned regularly, so keep this in mind if you share equipment with others in the office.
4. Vending Machine and Water Fountain Buttons
Do you know everyone who uses the vending machine in the lunchroom? Even if you do, do you know everything else they’ve done before hitting those buttons? While your personal hygiene may be in great order, you can’t be sure what others is like and you can’t know whether some has washed their hands after using the restroom. Vigilance is importance and keeping up your own hygiene practices and hand hygiene is essential. Water fountains are also an area where you need to be extra careful, as there are risks of infections like rotavirus so always let the water run before using and wash your hands after use, if you don’t want to use hand sanitizer.
5. Keyboard and Mouse
The landmark research carried out by Dr Gerber at the University of Arizona found the average keyboard harbors a lot more bacteria than the average toilet seat. The 2002 study found 3,295 bacteria per square inch of keyboard and 1,676 bacteria per square inch of computer mouse, while toilet seats have an average of 50 per square inch. This tells you a great deal about how important it is to keep your office equipment clean. Your keyboard and mouse are constantly in contact with your hands, the most effective contaminator and transmitter of germs and bacteria. Sanitizer and antibacterial wipes are the friend of your office equipment and should be used regularly.
6. Staff Refrigerator
All refrigeration equipment in the workplace should be looked after and maintained in a safe and hygienic way. In reality, you probably find old yogurt pots and your co-worker’s leftover sandwich from last week on a regular basis. Leaking bowls, spillages and out of date food make communal fridges a real danger, and while no one should have to be responsible for cleaning it out on their own, there should be a system in place. Remember, the handles of the refrigerator need special attention as everyone who is keeping that nasty food inside will have had to open the door somehow.
7. Handrails in Communal Spaces
Handrails on escalators and stairwells are regularly touched and anywhere which is frequently touched by hand is at risk of becoming a hotspot for bacteria. Even respiratory flora can be found on handrails which aren’t properly cleaned. In large offices you may hire in professionals to keep the place properly clean and deal with detailing such as handrails and other areas which you may not have considered. Professional cleaners are knowledgeable about all these lesser-known danger spots and will ensure your cleanliness levels are much improved.
8. Non-Automated Soap and Sanitzer Dispensers
Contactless sanitizer and soap dispensers have become something we’re all accustomed to. They’ve made it much easier to keep clean without any contact with a potentially hazardous surface. Office soap dispensers without contactless technology are known to be a risk. Gerber’s study found fecal matter on 25% of all office soap dispensers and the CDC regularly highlight how hand hygiene is essential for brining these levels down.
9. Door Handles
Everything we’ve already stated shows that it’s those frequently touched areas which are at most risk of becoming home to dangerous levels of bacteria. Therefore, it’s pretty clear that door handles, from your office to another, to the restroom, out of the building and practically anywhere are one of the most likely homes of large numbers of bacteria. CBN News did a showing test where they placed a non-dangerous but traceable virus on a single door handle in an average office. Their results found after only 4 hours 60% of the surfaces in the office showed contamination, showing just how quickly infection can spread, from a single contaminated door handle. Cleanliness is something which simply cannot be ignored if employers want their workforce to remain healthy and their business to remain proactive.
10. Your Desk
Everyone spends most of their day at their desk which means it is the area which you come into contact with more than any other. The surface of our desk is home to millions of germs and needs regular cleaning to keep it safe and minimize risk of sickness. Dedicated 10 minutes a week to giving your desk a good clean down and ensuring you empty your trash and don’t keep left over snacks in your drawers will all help in battling bacteria in the office.
Take Precautions, Don’t Panic
While some of these points may seem a bit scary, there’s nothing to freak out about. Nasty germs and bacteria can quickly spread and make you sick, but if you have the right procedures in place there is no reason to let it get that far. The better your business hygiene practices, the lower the chance there is of bacteria spreading around your office.