According to research from accountancy firm PwC, office sick-days cost UK businesses £29 billion each year. However, this monumental figure could be drastically reduced if offices were to adhere to some simple hygiene practices. Offices, despite their bright and glossy appearances harbour a medley of harmful bacteria. It has, for example, been estimated by cleaningservicesgroup.co.uk, that workers come into contact with 10 million bacteria per day and that statistically, one office worker, carrying a virus, will infect 50% of the workforce within four hours; it is essential that good hygiene practices in the workplace are maintained.
So what are some of the most effective bacteria-fighting practices when working in an office?
Eat away from the desk
According to cleaningservicesgroup.co.uk, ‘one in five office workers won’t clean their desk before eating there’, and, ‘only 3% of office equipment is cleaned sufficiently’, it’s no wonder that cough, colds and other viruses spread like wildfire in an office environment. Employees should eat in a designated area, away from their desks to minimise crumbs falling between the keys of the keyboard. Crumbs lodged in computer equipment accelerate the growth of harmful bacteria. This is quickly transferred to employees when touching office equipment whilst eating.
Change communal dish cloths regularly
Sponges soak up far more than fresh, running water. Food waste gradually expires and acquires bacteria. The moist nature of a sponge is also an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply. Sponges can be washed in a washing machine to help to reverse this process however, generally speaking, a sponge or dish cloth should be replaced monthly, and should be soaked in a solution of mild bleach and water at the end of each working day.
Wash tea-towels regularly
A study by the University of Arizona found that 89% of kitchen tea-towels tested positive for coliform bacteria (present in faeces, which can cause food poisoning or diarrhoea), and 25.6% tested positive for E. coli.
Researcher, Kelly Reynolds, from the University of Arizona, recommends that the minimum amount of times home tea towels should be washed is weekly, in an antibacterial wash.
Office tea-towels are likely to harbour more bacteria as they are likely to be used by more people. It is therefore advisable that you wash them twice weekly.
Provide paper hand towels over actual towels in the bathroom
Bathroom hand-towels similarly harbour a vast amount of bacteria. This goes double for offices where multiple people may be using the same towels, causing them to become saturated and moist – an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Providing paper hand towels greatly reduces the spreading of harmful bacteria as there is less of a chance of the bacteria being passed from person-to-person.
Provide anti-bacterial hand-gel
In larger offices, or in medical buildings especially; anti-bacterial hand-gel dispensers in corridors may aid in the reduction of harmful bacteria being spread. Although this practice should not substitute normal hand-washing; it may be useful for visitors to the building. Often, temporary visitors to a building do not go out of their way to stop at the bathroom to wash their hands. Those delivering a parcel or visiting a patient are more likely to make use of hand-gel dispensers in corridors. Harmful bacteria, is typically transferred when touching pens, door handles and light-switches; antibacterial gel will help to guard against this happening.
Mandatory Hygiene Signs
Workplace mandatory hygiene signs have been proven to have shown an increase in employee hygiene standards. These signs should be placed in clear view of workers preparing food in the kitchens, and for those taking a bathroom break in the toilets. Different styles are available, including those that display the most effective hand-washing regimes.
Anti-bacterial spray for kitchen work-surfaces
Providing anti-bacterial spray in the kitchen, will allow employees who have caused spillages to effectively clean up afterwards. The sink area and any eating stations can be sanitised between uses, ready for the next employee.
Anti-bacterial desk wipes
Research by the University of Arizona found that the average office desktop harboured 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat. And a study by the University of Arizona found that, phone have approximately 25,127 microbes per square inch! Providing workers with anti-bacterial wipes will aid in the reduction of potentially harmful bacteria forming on office equipment.
Feature Image: Credit to Andrey_Popov / shutterstock.com