The hidden germs in your workspace


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A couple that is sick in bedFlu season tends to create an onslaught of media reports about the dangers of germs to our health, happiness and productivity. We start looking through a microscope at every house and workplace nook and cranny to identify the unseen bacteria aiming to take us down. We become temporary germaphobes: we avoid touching doorknobs, pushing elevator buttons, and resolve to open bathroom doors only with accurately placed ninja kicks. In our anxiety to avoid obvious germ spaces, we turn a blind eye to the workspaces that are in fact busier germ central stations than a public toilet seat!

Germs in the workplace kitchen

The largest germ sites usually occur in higher traffic areas – for instance, the workplace kitchen. According to The Healthy Workplace Project, 75% of all kitchen faucets and 50% of all microwave doors are highly contaminated. Suddenly getting a drink of water doesn’t sound as refreshing! If you’re concerned about kitchen hygiene at your workplace, ask your office or site manager about scheduling regular and detailed cleaning in those high-use areas.

Germs in your workspace

It’s amazing how much faith we have in our own workspaces as being clean because it’s our own space. After all, how could you make yourself sick with your own germs? However, the average office desk is home to 400 times more germs than the typical toilet seat. Makes those working lunches at your desk much less appetizing, doesn’t it? Consider a periodic cleaning of your own workspace to minimize exposure to your own germs or those of a co-worker who just returned your stapler.

How to fight germs during flu season

Now that you know where germs are hiding, consider how best to fight them off:

  • Get a good night’s sleep and eat well to stay at your optimum health level.
  • Wash your hands before you eat or drink anything.
  • Make health a workplace priority for all employees. Ask co-workers to take part in a campaign to stop the spread of germs.
  • Consider when it’s best to take a sick day and to stay home from work.

Germs are common and linger everywhere – including our own personal spaces. We can’t lock the doors and swallow our keys until flu season is over. The best approach is to stay smart about your own hygiene and your workspace upkeep. And remember: don’t wash away a bad case of germophobia. If you begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed by germs in the workplace or at home, talking with a counsellor could help.

By Talya Rotem.

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