5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Workplace and the Importance of a Clean Laptop Screen
The average office desk is home to 20,000 germs per square inch – David Williams, CNN
Most people think that the bathroom is the dirtiest place in the workplace, but think again!
Germs love human touch and we touch about 30 objects every minute while at work. In addition, coughing and sneezing can leave behind viruses that can live on a surface for up to three days. So every area of the workplace is a germ’s paradise!
One of the worst places is your desk. Did you know it harbors millions of bacteria – 21,000 germs per square inch to be precise? That’s 400 times more than a toilet seat.
The Surprisingly Dirtiest Spots in Your Workplace
In 2002 hygienists from Kimberly-Clark Professional, in consultation with Professor Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona conducted a study to find out what the dirtiest places in an office were.
They swabbed 4,800 surfaces in office buildings that had more than 3,000 employees testing for levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a molecule that is present in all animal, vegetable, bacterial, yeast and mold cells.
What they found will probably surprise you. The dirtiest places in the office were the staff kitchen and break rooms! In fact 75% of the swabbed break room sink faucet handles had unacceptable levels of ATP contamination.
This was followed by microwave door handles, computer keyboards, refrigerator door handles, water fountain buttons and vending machine buttons.
Proper personal hygiene and shared responsibility for keeping common areas clean go a long way to ensuring that a workplace remains safe from the spread of nasty germs and bacteria that can cause illness.
To help change our working environments for the better, here are some simple guidelines.
1. Practice Correct Hand Washing
Our hands transmit about 80% of common infectious diseases. This means proper hand hygiene is the best way to control infection in the workplace. The steps to correct hand washing are:
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water. It doesn’t matter if the water is warm or cold;
2. Remove your hands from the water and apply soap;
3. Create a lather by rubbing your hands together. Don’t forget to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails;
4. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. It is this scrubbing motion that dislodges the germs and bacteria from the surface of your skin;
5. Rinse your hands well;
6. Dry your hands using a clean paper or fresh cloth towel or air dry them.
2. Carry Hand Sanitizer or Wipes
Washing your hands with soap and water is without doubt the most effective way to remove germs. However, if you can’t get to a bathroom or have access to soap and water are not available, the next best thing is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes, which are no-mess and very convenient.
Hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective. The alcohol evaporates on contact while pulling water away from the germs so they cannot survive.
3. Use Sanitizing Surface Wipes
Office cleaners will not touch computers or keyboards because of the risk of damage. This means that the onus is on the employee to keep their workspace clean.
Keep some surface cleaner wipes in your desk drawer so that you can pull one out to give your desk, keyboard, mouse and any other surfaces a daily clean.
Ask your employer to provide surface wipes in the kitchens and encourage everyone to wipe down benches and handles. A sanitized workplace can reduce employees’ rates of cold, flu and stomach illness by up to 80 percent.
4. Regularly Wipe Down Screens and Monitors
A clean laptop screen or desktop computer monitor is a good start to a germ-free work space. Other places that need a once-a-day wipe down are your smartphone and tablet screens.
Have a stash of electronic screen wipes at your desk as well as in your purse or wallet so that you can regularly clean laptop screen, phone and tablet screens.
5. Use Your Own Cups, Plates and Cutlery
If your office has a cupboard of shared mugs and cups, chances are that many of them have coliform bacteria lurking on them. These germs are related to fecal contamination.
Instead of using a disposable paper or plastic cup, be environmentally conscious by bringing your own mug or cup. Make sure you wash it with hot water and dish soap and dry it thoroughly.
Whatever you do, steer clear of the dish sponge in the sink. That shared sponge used by may be contaminated with E.coli, a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, infection or even kidney failure.