A Cure To The Growing Bacteria Problem by Jessica Hodges
Often, when we think of workplace safety, we think about accident prevention. However, the presence of bacteria in the workplace is becoming an ever-greater problem. A recent study conducted by University of Arizona researchers revealed some rather startling facts. The average desk was found to have over 10 million germs on its surface – with more than 80% of them transmitted by hand.
To put this into perspective, according to the study, there are 400 times more germs on the typical office desk than there are on the typical office toilet seat.
But there’s more:
- Personal areas, such as offices and cubicles have higher bacteria levels than common areas
- Telephones are the #1 home for germs in our offices
- Bacteria levels on the typical fax machine are three times higher than on the bathroom door
While most are harmless, some bacteria can cause serious problems, like infections and strep throat. But, don’t panic…
There Is A Cure To The Growing Bacteria Problem.
Where are these bacteria coming from? Simply put, we’re all working longer hours. U.S. workers put in more time at work than any other labor force in the world. Combine these long hours with all of us eating and snacking at our desks, and inefficient ventilation systems, and… you get the picture.
So, now that we’ve made a home for germs in our office, how do we kick out these unwanted guests?
First, tackle the problem where it’s at its worst…your desk. Clean it – every day. Be sure to use an anti-microbial disinfecting wipe or cleaning solution. And clean the entire surface…miss an inch and you can miss a lot: over 20,000 bacteria can exist in a square inch of desk space.
Second, clean all of your devices – your computer mouse, keyboard and your telephone. Once again, use a disinfecting wipe. Remember, bacteria levels increase during the day, so make disinfecting a regular part of your workday.
Then, to slow the growth of bacteria, stop eating and snacking at your desk. If your office has a cafeteria or breakroom, eat your lunch there. And be sure to thoroughly clean and dry plates and utensils when you’re done eating.
Of course, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of bacteria is something our moms always preached: wash your hands! Proper hand washing is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of bacteria. But do it right…
Don’t just splash some water on your hands. Experts recommend using soap and rubbing your hands together for at least 15 seconds. Then, rinse your hands and dry them completely using clean paper towels that you throw away. And, here are a few final considerations…
- Don’t put pens and pencils in your mouth – germs are usually present
- If you’re sick, take a sick day – “presenteeism”, coming to work sick, is how many illnesses are transmitted
- And, your mom was right about something else – always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing