Working as a cleaner or plumber may seem like some of the jobs that get you closest to dirt – but did you know that when it comes to buddying up with germs and filth, the average desk, keyboard and computer mouse are dirtier than a standard toilet seat?
Whatever industry you’re working in, cleanliness is an important part of workplace health and safety. Keeping your desk, tools of the trade, and communal office areas clean can dramatically decrease your risk of picking up common colds and other illnesses – thereby reducing the number of sick days you need to take, increasing your productivity throughout the year, and positively impacting your overall health and wellbeing.
- Your workplace is probably crawling with germs. Unless you work in a sanitised environment such as an operating theatre or lab, you’re likely to be exposed to millions of bacteria every time you go to work. That’s not to say you should consider investing in a HazMat suit to wear to the office or job site – after all, not all bacteria are bad bacteria. But you may be surprised just how grubby your workspace is when examined by something more powerful than the naked eye.
Research has shown that the average desk is home to around 10 million bacteria – which is 400 times more germs than the amount found on a standard toilet seat. And since germs can be spread through hand contact, or water droplets via sneezing or coughing, virtually every surface in your office is at risk of harbouring a veritable petri dish of common nasties.
The top 10 dirtiest surfaces in the average workplace include:
- Fridge handle
- Microwave handle and buttons
- Vending machines
- Photocopier buttons
- Toilet seats
- Keep it clean. Okay, so germs are pretty much unavoidable no matter where you work. Think about how many different surfaces you touch on an average day at the office? Then consider whether or not you wash your hands every time you grab a snack or touch your face.
The good news is, you can reduce the risk of germs spreading and limit your exposure to illness by encouraging everyone at your workplace to practise some simple cleaning strategies, and introducing a cleaning routine or roster that sees every member of staff pitching in to keep your workplace safe.
- Routine hand washing. It’s one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread of germs, so get into the habit of scrubbing your mitts before you eat. Keep sanitiser handy for between washes – especially if you’re handling money, shaking hands with clients, or clearing away dishes.
- Invest in sanitising wipes. And regularly wipe your desk, computer, phone and keyboard to cut down germs on those surfaces.
- Clean communal kitchen appliances. This includes refrigerators and microwaves regularly using hot soapy water, and don’t forget to wipe the handles. As a potential hot bed for harmful bacteria, replace dishcloths regularly, or sterilize them by heating in the microwave with some water until they steam.
To ensure your food is safe, worry less about Mike from the accounting department stealing your sandwiches, and focus on ensuring the fridge is clean, and that the temperature is set to below four degrees to keep food out of the danger zone.
Research has shown that the average desk is home to around 10 million bacteria – which is 400 times more germs than the amount found on a standard toilet seat.