When the season changes from winter to spring, many people find themselves battling illness. Some health experts speculate that a lack of vitamin D during winter months may weaken immune systems, but regardless of the exact cause, doctors tend to see an uptick in respiratory illness around this time of year. At the workplace, this can spell trouble for a sick person’s co-workers, unless office hygiene is kept top of mind.
The typical employee’s workspace has more bacteria per square inch than an office toilet seat. Door handles, shared kitchen appliances, desks, phones and other private surfaces are also prime habitats for the viruses and bacteria that cause colds, the flu, strep throat, pneumonia and other illnesses.
Even if you keep your personal workspace tidy, it may not be clean. Unlike toilets—which tend to be cleaned and disinfected regularly—keyboards, phone receivers, desks, and even office and kitchen countertops often go overlooked. Consider this: Crumbs and coffee spills are capable of supporting mini eco-systems. Without a cleaning, your desk or phone can sustain millions of bacteria that could potentially cause illness.
The good news: Heightened awareness and hygiene efforts can go a long way in keeping your workplace clean. Keep the following points in mind and share them with your co-workers:
• Germ-busting at the workplace is a team effort. It only takes one person to infect healthy co-workers.
• Regular cleaning of personal workspaces kills bacteria and stops the spread of germs.
• Frequent cleaning of shared workspaces (door handles, coffee pots, light switches, work equipment, etc.) is essential in maintaining sanitary safety. Disinfection is the goal, so be sure to use a true disinfectant, not just an anti-bacterial product. Daily disinfection reduces bacteria levels by 99 percent, drastically lowering the risk of illness.
• Be considerate of others and cough or sneeze into tissues, your sleeve or the crook of your arm. Wash your hands often and sanitize using alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel. Consider having these in any common areas, including kitchens and washrooms.