• 12, December , 2019

    Workplace Hygiene to Beat the Bug!

    Have you noticed how easy it is to pick up germs in your office? Whether they’re brought in from home or public transport, work is a great place for sharing bacteria and viruses.

    Germs spread quickly from one person to the next, from stomach-churning food poisoning bacteria such as SalmonellaE. coli, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus to viruses like norovirus, colds and flu.

    Micro-organisms like these don’t normally multiply on your desk or chair without help. They don’t move around unless we do. So, we’re all responsible for transferring germs from one person to the next.

    To fight back, beat the germs and take control of your health in the workplace, you need to tackle the most touched areas in the office – these 5 office germ hotspots:

    1. Desk
    2. Fridge
    3. Keyboard and mouse
    4. Mug
    5. Photocopier

    1. Desk

    A study has found that on average phones are the most contaminated item in the office. They found over 25,000 organisms per surface.

    Comparisons with other surveys reveal that some typical desk items could be around seven times more contaminated than traditionally ‘dirty’ items such as toilet seats, which often get more attention for cleaning.

    So, if you share desk equipment and hot desk, you’ll have more chance of being infected by other people’s germs.

    You won’t drop dead by using the phone, but you should think about how dirty your hands may be after picking up the receiver. If you chew pens – and many of us do – think about where they have been before!

    Top tips:

    • If you are hot-desking and using a phone that others have used, have a pack of antimicrobial wipes handy to banish bacteria and cold and flu viruses. Time taken to clean your phone could mean fewer days off work.
    • If you’re eating at your desk, wash your hands before touching food or use a hand sanitiser.
    • Move the keyboard away so it doesn’t collect crumbs.
    • Use anti-microbial hand gel if you can’t be sure your hands are clean when using the phone.
    • Bin your packaging rather than leaving it on the desk. Leaving food or mess around could encourage pests – another source of germs!
    • Pen-chewers – try to break the habit. If you don’t know where a pen has been, you could be ingesting bacteria or viruses left by someone else. It could have been in someone else’s mouth, gathering dust under the desk or dropped on the loo floor.
    • Give borrowed pens a clean with an anti-bacterial wipe.

    2. Fridge

    You could pick up bacteria and viruses from touching fridges after colleagues have put their germs on them, but there are also dangers in keeping food past its use-by date, especially in a fridge that is not working very well.

    Take particular care over ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches and salads. Eat them in date, and keep below 5°C.

    Do you keep your shopping in the office fridge before going home? Raw meat and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria such as Campylobacter or E. coli. These can even be found on the outer packaging.

    Respect other people’s food left in the fridge and make sure you don’t put their ready-to-eat food at risk of contamination by putting raw meat next to their sandwiches.

    Top tips:

    • If you share a work fridge, ask for a thermometer – they are very cheap (less than £5), and you can buy them from any supermarket. Check the temperature.
    • Remove any out-of-date food (before it walks out on its own)!
    • Start a policy to clear the fridge out at the end of the week and clean it.
    • Protect your own food by placing it in plastic lidded containers.
    • Keep ready-to-eat foods at the top of the fridge away from raw foods. Once you have opened a pack it will go off quicker than its original use-by date – follow the instructions on the pack.

    3. Keyboard and mouse

    One study found more than 3,000 micro-organisms per square inch on keyboards and over 1,600 bacteria per square inch on a computer mouse. Similar numbers were found in another carried out by Gerber.

    You might worry less if these are your own bacteria, but if you are hot-desking, then other people’s germs could be transferring onto your hands.

    Top tips:

    • If you’re hot-desking, clean your desk using an anti-microbial wipe – you or previous users could have a cold and this helps to stop the spread.
    • Use anti-microbial hand gel if you can’t be sure your hands are clean.
    • Always use it before eating at your desk or rubbing your eyes.
    • Wash your hands before you eat at your shared desk.
    • If you’re eating at your desk, wash your hands before touching food or use a hand sanitiser.
    • Move the keyboard away to remove crumbs – and clean up afterwards!
    • Dispose of tissues after use – don’t leave them on the desk. The best place is in the bin or in the loo.
    • If you have to cough or sneeze and don’t have a tissue, do it into the crook of your elbow. It keeps your hands keep clean and stops you passing the germs on to someone else.

    4. Mug

    Offices mugs can look unsavoury very quickly, particularly if you don’t have a dishwasher. How about that mould growing on the coffee dregs in a long-abandoned mug?

    Simple rinsing may not remove a colleague’s germs. And the outside surface of the mug could become contaminated by their hands. If they had a cold, you could get their germs.

    Top tips:

    • Use the office dishwasher if you have one. If not, use your own mug.
    • Wash up your dedicated work mug in the evening.
    • Leave it on your desk ready for your use only the next day (don’t share it).
    • Get a mug and bottle for hot drinks on the go, with smooth surfaces so they’re easy to wash (preferably in the dishwasher).
    • Wash wash bottles at least once a day because water is not sterile, and bacteria will build up over time. Don’t let anyone else use them.

    5. Photocopier

    Everyone uses the buttons of the photocopier, so you can pick up whatever germs are on their hands, meaning that a cold or flu virus can be transferred from your hands to your eyes.

    If everyone works a bit harder to make their hands cleaner, the office will be a healthier place.

    Top tips:

    • Don’t eat a sandwich or rub your eye after using the photocopier or other shared office machinery.
    • The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to wash your hands before eating.
    • Use a sanitiser gel at your desk.
    • The cleaners should be disinfecting hand-contact surfaces every evening.

    Call us on 021 4277841 to stock up on all your cleaning supplies or email sales@ronniemoore.ie