Germs In The Workplace

Germs are pretty much everywhere, even at your place of work, often we don”t consider this, but exposure to some of these may cause illness. Another thing to consider about this is that not only could someone become ill, but people being ill may slow productivity. “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. So, most of the places we touch and come in contact with are likely harborers of germs. According to the National Health Interview Survey, influenza alone is responsible for about 200 million days of reduced productivity and 75 million days of work absence annually.”

Where do we find the most germs?

We find the most germs in the places you would think they would be found. Telephones are one of the major violators, if not the worst, with untold numbers of hands on them and mouths near them, the community telephone is the biggest offenders when it comes to finding germs. Just think about this picture next time you use the phone at work.

Next in line would be elevator buttons. Untold thousands of fingers pushing them, and in some buildings it may be numbers in the thousands daily, and no telling how long between cleanings, I have never seen a cleaning person inside an elevator actually cleaning it. I’m sure they must, but I”ve never seen it.

What’s the next in line on the offenders list for the most germ infested places in the workplace? Water fountains would have to be it. Not the kind with the jug on top of all natural spring water, but rather the old type that people drink directly from. It is estimated that there are 2.7 MILLION bacteria per square inch on public drinking fountains! Sounds like a very convincing argument to bring a water bottle from home doesn”t it?

Following close behind the drinking fountain is the computer keyboard. Computer keyboards have hands on them all day. If someone is sick with the flu, or “just got over it” and has been coughing into their hands then touching their keyboards, yuck!

A computer keyboard may have as many as 200 times the bacteria on them as a toilet seat! If you have to use a shared computer at work, be sure to keep some disinfectant wipes handy to clean the phones and keyboards before you use them, or your hands after you use them.

Following close behind the keyboards, and in last place believe it or not, are the bathrooms. Bathrooms have bacteria everywhere! Did you know that if you do not close the toilet seat before you flush water droplets literally spray into the air as far as twenty feet carrying untold contaminates, including fecal matter, to settle onto just about every surface in the room. Bathrooms are usually high on the cleaning list, but consider in a very large, very busy office building, it may only get cleaned once or twice a week.

How many uncovered flushes between cleaning do you think there might be? One could be too many. Be sure to turn faucets off with a paper towel to avoid re-contaminating after washing, and open the door with one too.

The key to safety here is to wash your hands, wash them a lot, anytime you use the shared phone, shared keyboard, or any other surfaces frequented by many hands, wash. Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer is a good idea.

Some thoughts are that if you use that too much then you won’t build any tolerances to the germs and bacteria and therefore will be more apt to become ill if exposed. The schools of thought on that subject are split fairly evenly. Personally I opt for the sanitizer, but then I probably wash my hands at least fifty times a day. OCD much? Better than being sick though.


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