Healthy Clean Workplaces

Protect your office from becoming a comfortable spot for bacteria to grow

How can you protect your office from becoming a comfortable spot for bacteria to grow?

Dr Charles P. Gerba, a Professor of microbiology from the University of Arizona, is one of the first microbiologists to intensely study bacteria counts in the workplace. From his studies, Dr Gerba has discovered that in most work environments, offices and cubicles have higher bacteria levels than surfaces in common areas.

What spot in your office space is friendliest to germs?

Telephones topped the charts in most offices across the United States, followed by desks and computer keyboards. “The phone is typically the dirtiest piece of equipment in an office because it goes straight to your mouth, and you never clean or disinfect it,” Gerba says.

Dr Gerba tested phones, desks and computer mice within a variety of different occupations, and discovered that the most bacteria per square inch was found on surfaces used by school teachers because of their constant contact with children. Accountants ranked second to teachers, followed by bankers, radio disc jockeys and doctors. Consultants, publicists and lawyers harboured the least amount of bacteria per square inch in their offices.

Cross contamination is potentially the biggest Health and Safety risk in an office environment. Cross contamination commonly occurs when the same cloths and cleaning equipment are used to clean toilet areas and then other areas. Untrained cleaners following poor hygiene practices can rapidly spread bacteria and viruses in an office environment.

So how can you protect your office from becoming a comfortable spot for bacteria to grow? Dr Gerba suggests these simple steps:

  • Make sure you have competent and trained cleaners following hygienic cleaning practices.
  • Wipe down your desk and surrounding items with a disinfecting wipe once a week.
  • Keep a hand sanitiser at your desk and use it throughout the day.
  • If you tend to eat at your desk on a regular basis, think again–this behavior is inviting bacteria to grow at your fingertips.
  • Wash coffee mugs and glasses on a regular basis.

He says office, classroom and home hygiene and cleanliness have a huge impact on illness and the spread of infectious diseases and children and adult sick days could be drastically reduced if basic principles of hand washing and regular and thorough cleaning of surfaces were followed.