Office Workers Exposed To Harmful Bacteria That Causes Illness, Says Microbiologist

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From your workspace to office kitchens, and copy machines, there are many office supplies that are contaminated with harmful bacteria. A Microbiologist has revealed the biggest reason why people get sick at the office.   ( StockSnap | Pixabay )

Ever walk by a colleague's workspace and notice how dirty their desk is? A new study has found office staff that doesn't clean up their workspace puts everyone's health at risk.

Office Workers Are Exposed To Harmful Bacteria That Causes Illness

Printerland, the largest reseller of printers in the UK, surveyed more than 1,000 office staff and found two-thirds of workers that didn't clean up their workspace on a regular basis were at risk of becoming ill from harmful bacteria, including Helicobacter pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, E-coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

In addition, one in ten office staff said they cleaned their desk once a month, while another 9 percent said they never cleaned their workspace.

Harmful bacteria can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea, severe stomach cramps, dehydration, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Most Contaminated Office Supplies

Nasty bugs are also present on office chairs (21,000 germs per square inch) and desks, desktops (20,961 germs per square inch), keyboards (3,295 germs per square inch), mouse (1,676 germs per square inch), and office phones (25,127 germs per square inch), are quite an issue, as every two in three workers becoming ill after being exposed to their co-workers' diseases.

Even walking into the office kitchen isn't safe. At least 90 percent of office mugs contain harmful germs on their surface, which 20 percent of them carry fecal bacteria. To avoid getting ill from harmful bacteria on coffee mugs people should wash them with hot soapy water every day.

Charles Gerba, a Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Arizona, recommends employees should take their coffee mugs and dishes home every night to clean. Doing this will help reduce the risk of getting sick from cleaning dishes with communal sponges in an office setting, which are contaminated with harmful bacteria when they aren't rinsed properly.

Best Ways To Clean Up The Office

A recent study found antibacterial wipes don't necessarily clean up harmful bacteria. Professor Gerba suggests cleaning office items, such as phones and desks with antibacterial spray at least once a week. Office chairs can be a bit trickier to clean, but vacuuming them works best.

"Office chairs should be vacuumed once a week and give it a deeper clean around once a month, which will not only leave it feeling fresher but reduce the build-up of bacteria," said Professor Gerba.

Office kitchens should be wiped down with hot soapy water, especially the kitchen sink.

Through the survey, Catherine Bannan, HR manager for Printerland, found office desks contain more germs than the toilet seat. "It's pretty shocking that there are more germs on your desk than on a toilet seat! But hopefully our visualisation will show people why it is so important to clean regularly so as to avoid getting ill and spreading infections unnecessarily amongst your colleagues," said Bannan.

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