Each day many of us head into our offices without thinking much about how many germs we’re exposed to. But our workplaces are among the dirtiest places we’re in — and we spend eight hours a day there.
According to the Canada Safety Council, “Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, discovered that the average office toilet seat had 49 germs per square inch.”
While that sounds pretty off-putting, it goes on: “Desktops had almost 21,000 germs per square inch, and phones had more than 25,000 germs per square inch.”
While there have been many studies about what is the dirtiest place or object in a workplace, there are a few that stand out. Here are just some you might want to avoid or make a habit of washing more thoroughly from now on.
Yes, that morning cup of joe so many of us depend on could also be harbouring plenty of bacteria.
A recent study commissioned by Hloom collected swabs of areas in five different workplaces and sent them for independent testing. The coffee pot handles came back with 34 times more germs on it than on a school toilet seat.
In an article for Prevention magazine, Gerba said, “The coffeepot handle is more of the problem. We’ve done studies on viruses — we put viruses on doorknobs to see how they travel — and the first place you find them is on coffeepot handles.”
It makes sense that our telephones contain many germs since, as we talk, spit from our mouths is being transferred onto the mouthpiece. Not only that, but our hands may not be that clean either. And who cleans a phone?
But our phones contain a plethora of germs and bacteria. So try to wipe down the handle once in a while to avoid the contraction of bacteria.
Just think about how many fingers are touching an elevator button in the course of one day. And that lit up or down button collects all the nasty germs (and some good ones) that people carry with them. Perhaps they just sneezed or coughed and were polite enough to cover their mouths. But now that same hand is heading toward the button, taking along any germs with it.
When you get wherever it is you’re going, try to wash your hands. And, if you can’t, just try to stay away from touching your face.
So many people use keyboards for hours a day. But once again, if we’re touching doorknobs, coffee pot handles and other desktop surfaces that may be harbouring bacteria, we’re now taking them with us as we type out an office memo or reply to an email.
Not only that, but many employees eat at their desks, dropping crumbs and other bits of food on the keyboards (much to the chagrin of the IT department). That food is a perfect breeding ground for germs
Try cleaning your keyboard with disinfecting wipes after you’ve emptied out the food content in between the keys.
OK, so this one doesn’t come as a big surprise. However, when we say it’s dirty, it’s dirty.
Flushing a toilet with the lid up can spray water a metre in the air. That means that everything you touch in the stall has likely been sprayed.
As well, while you may wash your hands thoroughly, others may not, meaning that the germs remaining on their hands are being transferred onto the door handle. So, once you’ve washed your hands, turn off the tap with a paper towel and open the door with it afterwards.
WATCH: Step-by-step guide to washing your hands
If you haven’t wanted to encase yourself in a plastic bubble by now, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Clean your keyboards and telephone often and try to avoid touching your face. But most importantly, wash your hands thoroughly during the day, especially after using the bathroom.
WATCH: Testing cellphones for germs