“Germs are lurking all over the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 80% of all infections are spread by hand contact with contaminated surfaces and direct human contact.” ~ HealthStatus
Germs come from us and places used or visited by lots of people will have a lot of microbes. Since germs can live on surfaces from hours to months, they can be transferred from person-to-person and surface-to-surface – mostly by hands.
Many of these encounters can be mitigated with simple safeguards.
Let’s review your typical work day with tips to help avoid some of the more common hotspots for germs.
WORKPLACE. Have you noticed how easy it is to pick up germs at your workplace? Whether they’re brought in from home or from public transportation, people who interact in proximity with one another are at a higher risk of spreading germs. And when people work while ill, localized outbreaks among a larger number of people can occur quickly. Germs can spread swiftly from person to person causing food poisoning, viruses, norovirus, colds, flu and more.
- Elevator Panel: The ground-floor elevator button panels are teeming with germs because everybody touches them. There are literally thousands of fingers pushing them and no telling how long between cleanings.
TIP: Use a sanitizer or even better, wash your hands after exiting the elevator at work.
- Door Handles: Door handles are also some of the most touched spots in the office and a petri dish of germs. Viruses and bacteria can be transferred to door handles throughout the work environment when someone doesn’t wash their hands after using the restroom. It’s more common than you might think. A study by hygiene service, Rentokil Initial, found that 25% of workers do not wash their hands after using the toilet. Remember, contamination happens when germs are transferred from one person to a surface like a door handle and then to another person.
TIP: Try not to touch the door handle. Use a tissue or paper towel, your elbows or your hand within a sleeve to open doors. Before getting back to work, use anti-bacterial gel – especially if you’re about to eat.
- Restrooms: Restrooms have bacteria everywhere. Did you know that when you flush an open toilet (no seat), water droplets containing contaminates can spray into the air up to 20 feet away? This includes fecal matter that can settle onto most surfaces. Although restrooms are usually cleaned, there’s still a lot of opportunities for germs to spread.
TIP: Be sure to turn faucets off with a paper towel to avoid re-contaminating after washing and open the door with one too. And don’t touch that door handle! Importantly, do not set your smartphone or bag on the restroom floor or counters. Always keep your phone in an antimicrobial encased enclosure to protect from “restroom germs”.
- Breakrooms: The break room can be a real hot spot. Think about the coffee machine and the many hands that touch it. Again, where there are many people, there are many germs. In a study, researchers deliberately placed a synthetic germ in an office break room. They found that it spread to most every surface in the office within four hours.
Here are some top places where germs lurk:
- Sink Faucet Handles (75% tested had high levels of contamination)
- Microwave Door Handles
- Refrigerator Door Handles
- Vending Machine Buttons
TIP: An important component in germ prevention is hand hygiene – washing hands thoroughly with soap before touching these handles or buttons. And importantly, wash your hands afterwards too – or at least use a hand-sanitizer.
- Desks: The average desk contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat, new research has revealed. The average desktop harbors 20,961 germs per square inch and that’s in addition to 3,295 on the keyboard and 1,676 on a mouse.
TIP: Clean your desk, keyboard and mouse frequently with disinfecting wipes. Safely store your personal items including your smartphone, earbuds and snack items in a protective bag that defends against germs and microbes.
General TIP Summary:
Our hands are responsible for the spread of 80% of common infectious diseases so hand-washing continues to be the smartest and most effective means of infection control in the workplace. Since not everyone is diligent with hand-washing, protect your personal space with disinfecting wipes and keep your personal items enclosed in a protective bag that defends against unwanted germs and microbes.
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