Now that we’re heading into winter, it’s time to be a bit more careful about germs in the office and invisible creatures crawling round your desk.
We’ve found a number of articles featuring Dr Lisa Ackerly, an environmental health expert from the University of Salford, who goes into a lot of gruesome and germy detail about the risks of dirty desks.
Speaking to the Mail Online, she mentions some terrifying ‘tatistics, including:
– The average work desk is 400 times dirtier than the average loo seat
– The average computer keyboard is home to 7,500 types of bacteria
– An office worker’s hands come into contact with 10,000,000 bacteria each day
– Flu and other viruses can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours
And, this is the really important message: 80% of common infections are transmitted by touch.
As Stan Bush sings, you’ve got the touch and you’ve got the power: the power to wash your hands and clean your desk.
Let’s talk about the desk first
It may not be the key hazard in terms of infection, but it does reflect on you and sometimes colleagues tend to judge a person by their desk. So it makes sense to keep yours spick and span.
Before you eat, put down a napkin. Catch some of those crumbs and dollops of sauce, so they don’t fall into your workspace and attract germs or creepy crawlies, like Graham from facilities* who treats keyboard crumbs like treats at the bottom of a crisp packet. (If you hear a plastic rattling in the office at night, that’s him shaking the crunchy leftovers into his mouth.)
Each week schedule in a little bit of time to give your desk a quick tidy up and clean with a proper cleaning kit. Turn your keyboard upside down to get rid of any crumbs, then use compressed air to dislodge stubborn ones. (You could feel a family of squirrels with the leftovers that fall out of my keyboard). Give the desk itself and any phones or mice the once-over with an antibacterial wipe.
Now you’ve got a desk you could eat your dinner off, it’s time to move on to the most important, and the simplest part, of avoiding germs at the office:
Washing your hands
I’ve found a survey that suggests more than 60% of men don’t wash their hands after going to the loo. While women fare a bit better, 40% of them don’t bother. That’s still a lot of poo and pee that’s being spread around the office, on door handles, phones, lift buttons and more.
Unless you take a bottle of washing-up liquid and a garden hose into the office and spray your colleagues down yourself, the only way to combat their lack of cleanliness is to wash your own hands regularly with hot water and soap, throughout the day, not just after going to the loo.
This is incredibly important as we move into winter and face really unpleasant bugs like norovirus, which is serious enough to put children and the elderly into hospital.
By looking after your own hygiene, you also help to take care of everyone else.
*Any resemblance to real people called Graham who work in facilities is entirely coincidental. All characters in this piece are fictional, but the germs and illnesses are real.
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Previously on The Euroffice Blog…