Women washing hands in white sink good suds

When it comes to any office, germs can be a problem.  Unfortunately, this can’t be avoided when so many people work together in a confined space.  High traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and break rooms are especially at risk for becoming germ-infested.  To avoid being overrun by these pesky microorganisms, it’s important to continually disinfect surfaces and implement other measures that will combat germs.  By working as a team, it is possible to make your workplace a healthy environment with minimal germs.

Use Common Sense
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests some everyday practices that anyone can follow to reduce the spread of germs and illness.  These easy tips include:

  • Covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Allowing other people their personal space
  • Staying home when one feels ill

When coughing or sneezing, a tissue or the crook of the arm can be used to contain the germs.  If someone uses their hands for this purpose, it’s recommended they wash or sanitize their hands immediately.  Staff should wash their hands frequently throughout the day.  It’s important to avoid touching one’s mouth, eyes or nose since anywhere that releases bodily fluids (i.e. saliva, mucus, etc.) is a prime spot to spread germs.

Disinfection is a Must
There’s no doubt about the importance of disinfection.  Regardless of the type of workplace, from office to factory to retail store and so on, it needs to be kept clean to protect the health of employees.  When people are ill, productivity drops.  Close attention to the cleanliness of the workplace can make a major difference in reducing illness.

The entire premises should be cleaned regularly by professional cleaning staff.  Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes should be available throughout the workplace.  Employees should have access to wipes to clean their workstations at the end of the workday including wiping down desk surfaces, computer keyboards and phones.  When cleanliness is top priority, everyone will be healthier.

Pay Attention to Trouble Areas
Studies performed by the Kimberly-Clark Professional Healthy Workplace project identified the areas of the workplace with the largest accumulation of germs.  Surprisingly, the bathroom was not the biggest offender.  Researchers took swabs to test for germs from a variety of office spaces and areas where germs could accumulate with a goal of identifying the areas with the highest risk of spreading illness.  While desks and the bathroom can be an issue, break rooms were also a major problem area.

The break room is a high-traffic area with many people going in and out throughout the day, whether preparing food, eating their meals or simply taking a few minutes to relax.  Without specific stands for cleanliness, this area can easily become a breeding ground for germs.   To make the break room a healthier place, advise employees to clean the area when they are finished by using disinfectant wipes.  It is recommended to wash hands before and after eating.  If available, cleaning staff can wipe down all of the surfaces, including the microwave, multiple times throughout the day.  When there are high standards for cleanliness, issues with illness become less likely.

Set standards for excellence and make it a team effort to keep the workplace healthy.  When everyone works together, containing germs and preventing illness can become a reality.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Jackie Borst, PA-C

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