The Importance of Maintaining Hygienic Office Spaces
August 9, 2018
By: Jackie Edwards
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Did you know that the average workplace desk can be a 100 times less hygienic than your average kitchen table and more than 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat? Taking these shocking statistics into consideration it is no wonder that working individuals are exceedingly prone to illness. Productivity losses due to absenteeism cost employers as much as $22.8 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In order to reduce the risk of workers falling ill due to an unhygienic office, it is important to be able to identify risk areas as well as know how to effectively address any issues that may present themselves.
Bacteria and germs are literally everywhere
A seemingly regular office space is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. A single infected area can cause widespread infection and subsequent absenteeism in the workplace. A keyboard that might look clean can harbor as much as 16 million microbes while a standard office telephone is home to a whopping 25,127 microbes per square inch. These are not the only places germs and bacteria thrive within an office though. Bathrooms, door handles, public eating spaces and carpets are all potential germ hotspots that need to be cleaned at regular intervals to prevent the outbreak and spread of any illness and disease.
Mold can cause a range of ailments
The prevalence of mold in the office can cause a range of respiratory ailments including coughing, wheezing, chronic pneumonia and the exacerbation of symptoms in individuals with asthma. Individuals who have been exposed to mold can also suffer from itchiness, skin rashes and even headaches. Mold can grow anywhere where excessive, constant moisture is present in the kitchen and bathroom being the most common culprits. If you have leaking pipes or roofs at your office, get them seen to as soon as possible as moisture can leak into roofs and ceilings, causing mold to grow. Mold needs to be eradicated as soon as possible to prevent the onset of any related illnesses.
Reducing the spread of illness and disease in the office
In order to negate the risk and consequence of poor health within the workplace, it is important to take certain precautions to reduce the risk of illness spreading through the office. It is pivotal to have well-defined policies in place regarding not only cleanliness in the work environment, but personal hygiene as well. Shared workspaces need to be disinfected at regular intervals to prevent cross-contamination while fridges, freezers, microwaves and kitchen surfaces need to be kept clean at all times. Where possible, provide basic health checks to workers with the option to receive an annual flu shot as well. During a good year, a flu vaccine’s effectiveness ranges between 50 and 70% according to the CDC and even when it is significantly lower against a certain flu strain, it could lessen the impact of the disease on an individual. Most importantly, encourage workers to engage in hygienic work practices, washing their hands often and seeking medical attention if they feel unwell.
Taking the time and making the effort to rid your office of possible contaminants will serve you well in the long run when absenteeism decreases while productivity and morale improve. If you doubt your own abilities in keeping your office hygienic, employ the service of a reputable cleaning company that will take care of the job for you.