It may come as surprise that an office keyboard can pose a greater risk to your health than licking a toilet seat.
This is an unfortunate fact, as food and work stations are seldom included in health and hygiene protocols.
Rentokil Initial SA’s Service Support Manager, Beverly Wentzel, warns against the habit of eating at one’s desk. She says it is undeniably unhygienic, as the combination of food morsels, hair and skin build up in a keyboard, promote the development and spread of bacteria and viruses. Her advice:
The odds of contracting something if you lick the average reception- or office desk is 400 times higher than when you lick a typical toilet seat, providing the desk is not sanitised regularly.
This applies to any office consumable – telephones, switchboards, computer keyboards, printers, scanners and fax machines.
Neglecting a proper clean allows disease-causing pathogens like cold and flu viruses to last up to 72 hours on these surfaces.
“The benefits of cleaning properly are improved staff health, better attendance and happier customers,” says Wentzel.
“Research also shows that having a hygienic and odour-free office can easily improve the impression that a business makes on its customers and employees.”
Offices are busy places which, though they may be cleaned on a daily basis, may never be properly sanitised.
Don’t eat at YOUR desk
Employers should urge their staff not to eat at their desks and to be more cautious of the health risks involved.
Proper lunch breaks will motivate staff not to bring food to their work stations and as a result, the likeliness of pests such as rodents, fleas and cockroaches will be reduced and germs will be less likely to fester.
Be aware of pests
The up-side of the potential health threat is how easily it can be avoided to create a hygienic work environment. Tips should be readily available in all offices to avoid unpleasant surprise visits from pests such as mice or rats. Apart from not eating at your desk, food should not be hoarded at any work station, but rather be kept in a dedicated kitchen area. Should you make crumbs, ensure the floor space around you is clear to allow cleaners to reach it. Bins should contain bin liners to avoid residue build-up that will provide a food source for pests such as cockroaches, wasps and rodents.
Surfaces should be kept dry and steer clear of over-watering your office plants, as fruit flies thrive in damp environments.
Hands should always be washed after touching items exposed to a large amount of germs, such as ATMs and public transport.
At the office, hot-desking should be avoided, as sharing a phone is the quickest way of contracting and spreading germs.
As a rule, IT equipment should not be shared, because it is hard for personnel to effectively clean phone headsets or under keyboard keys, other than doing the standard short-term surface clean.
Thorough hand washing, using a proper sanitising soap and water and drying hands with a clean towel or with hot air, has long been recognised as vital to good hygiene.
Although this is agreed as the very best means of achieving hand hygiene in some circumstances this may not always be possible or practical.
Recently, the additional use of alcohol-based sanitisers has become prevalent in increasing the standard of hand hygiene.
Hygiene gel and hand wipes provide an excellent hygiene barrier for cases where office workers find it difficult or too time-consuming to visit the washroom. Employers could provide an attractive, compact dispenser for the gel, which can be installed anywhere.