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As we gradually move back into the office, observing proper hygiene and cleaning processes has never been more important. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, offices were already a hotbed of infection, especially during the winter.


Tips and facts to deal germs and dirt in the work place
 

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ll certainly know this situation well; Colin from finance comes in with the lurgy one day and it then proceeds to make the rounds for the next two months. You’re then bogged down with a headache, runny nose, and tickly cough for the next week or two, spending a small fortune on packet tissues, paracetamol, and cough syrup in the process. You start to regret all those days you took the ability to breathe through your nose for granted and wonder if you’ll develop a six pack from coughing so much.

Then as soon as you recover, you’re hit with the latest bug going around.

And that’s just a typical winter in the office. This year, with the country teetering on the edge of a second wave of COVID-19, keeping healthy and maintaining good hygiene will be more important than ever, and in some cases, lifesaving. Whilst offices are implementing social distancing, temperature checks and COVID-19 policies, making sure your office space is thoroughly clean should be a top priority for any company bringing employees back into the office.

When it comes to preventing illnesses, knowledge is power. This is why we decided to compile a list of the top 10 germiest places in the office, and how to combat them, so you can protect yourself when returning to work.

 

Kitchen sink

This entry may surprise you. After all, the function of a sink is to clean things, surely the hot water and soap keep the germs in check? Unfortunately, this is not the case for your office sink. Studies indicate that the kitchen sink is actually the germiest place in the entire office. 75% of office kitchen sinks reported an ATP count of 300 or higher, a sure-fire indication that there are hazardous levels of bacteria and germs present. Food particles from cutlery and crockery are a veritable breeding ground for germs, including the nastier varieties such as E. coli and salmonella.

How to combat it:

  • Disinfect your kitchen sink with bleach once a day.
  • Change sponges and cloths regularly.
  • Sanitise hands after turning off taps.

 

Office Phone

Office phones are vital lines of communication between you, your clients and your colleagues. They are also one of the germiest pieces of office equipment. The average office worker’s hands come into contact with over 10 million bacteria each day, and some of these will undoubtedly be transferred to the office phone. In addition to this, the receiver also comes into contact with droplets when you speak into the phone. As we know, droplets not only spread colds and flus, but also COVID-19, meaning sharing phones between employees can contribute to spreading illnesses around the office.

How to combat it:

  • Allocate a phone per person and restrict interchanging equipment.
  • Frequently clean down phones or headsets with sanitising wipes.
  • Promote proper handwashing techniques.

 

Desk

When we’re at the office, we probably spend most of our time at our desk. Almost a third of Britons admit to eating their lunch at their desk, which will inevitably leave behind food particles that encourage bacteria growth. As our desks are such a hive of activity, we can often neglect giving them the deep clean they need. As a result, the average office desk is more than 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat, making us vulnerable to picking up and passing on those office coughs and colds, or even COVID-19.

How to combat it:

  • Give your desk a deep clean with sanitising spray or wipes at least once a week.
  • Eat your lunch in the staffroom instead of your desk.
  • If communal areas are closed due to COVID-19, keep some sanitising wipes handy to clean your desk after lunch.

 

Microwave

Communal appliances like microwaves are high risk areas for spreading illnesses. As we mentioned before, the average office worker comes into contact with over 10 million bacteria every day, all of which will be spread to the microwave door handle tenfold. On top of this, food particles help bacteria to thrive, making the microwave undoubtedly one of the germiest places in the office. Inside the microwave is often no cleaner than the outside, and there’s a real risk of cross contamination, either between foods or passed on from unhygienic hands.

How to combat it:

  • Make hand sanitiser readily available in breakrooms.
  • Ensure the microwave is thoroughly cleaned every week.
  • For COVID-19, consider closing communal areas to prevent viral spread and accommodate social distancing.

 

Vending machines

Not every office has a vending machine, but for those who do, bear in mind that they’re up there as one of the germiest office areas. As well as attracting germy hands and food particles, they also involve handling money, a notorious carrier of germs and bacteria. Both coins and notes are passed between numerous hands before they end up in your wallet- that’s a lot of germs collected on the way. According to scientists, money is often contaminated with up to 19 different kinds of bacteria, some of which have the potential to make us ill. Most people have no qualms about touching money, then vending machine buttons and eating food without washing their hands- but all this can spread germs to you and other people.

How to combat it:

  • Ensure employees can sanitise their hands near the vending machine
  • Wipe down the buttons and tray with sanitising spray
  • Decommission your vending machine entirely to tackle COVID-19

 

Fax machines and copiers

Communal office appliances like fax machines and copiers are used by all employees at some point during the week, meaning that hundreds of hands have touched those buttons before you. A study on hygiene in offices found that the ‘start button’ contained 1.2 billion bacterial and fungal microbes. Have you ever seen anyone wipe them down or give them a proper clean?

How to combat it:

  • Add bigger appliances to your cleaning rota
  • Ensure you promote thorough handwashing
  • Have hand sanitiser readily available around the office

 

Shared stationary

Things like pens, post-it notes, and paper clips can be passed between employees, taking their germs with them. One study suggests that shared pens can have 46,000 more germs than a household toilet. Disinfecting individual stationary is perhaps unfeasible, but maybe think twice about borrowing a pen off your colleagues.

How to combat it:

  • Avoid sharing stationary between employees.
  • Promote use of hand sanitiser.

 

Lift buttons

Another surprising entry on the list. Lift buttons attract a lot of hands every day and are rarely cleaned, meaning the bacteria build up is significant. To put this into perspective, lift buttons are nearly 40 times germier than a public toilet. Who would think such a little button could cause so many problems?

How to combat it:

  • If possible, take the stairs! It’s healthier for you and you can avoid buttons all together
  • Limit lift capacity to accommodate social distancing
  • Ensure the lift buttons are added to your cleaning routine

 

Coffee pot/kettle

*Warning: the following contents may put you off your brew*

It’s safe to say that coffee (or tea) is the lifeblood of the office. Whether you need a cup of joe to get going in the morning or as a pick-me-up in the afternoon, most of us will make a trip to the coffee pot or kettle at least once during the day.  Sadly, even our beloved beverages are not safe from office germs. According to a cleanliness study, the handle of a coffee pot has 34 times more germs than a toilet seat.

How to combat it:

  • Make sure you regularly wipe down the handle with a sanitising wipe
  • Ensure hand sanitising practices are followed
  •  Due to coronavirus, you may need to consider decommissioning your coffee pot or kettle

 

Water machine

Again, this communal appliance is touched by almost all employees, multiple times a day. When filling up their water bottle and cups, employees may sometimes touch the waterspout with the rim or even their hands. Either way, the water machine is a commonly used appliance that is exposed to germy hands and water droplets. Even with offices decommissioning communal appliances to safeguard employees against COVID-19, providing access to drinking water is mandated by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

How to combat it:

  • Encourage handwashing and use of hand sanitiser throughout the office
  •  Thoroughly disinfect the water machine frequently
  •  Encourage employees to wash their cups and bottles regularly

 

Too busy to worry about office hygiene? Consider hiring a professional cleaning service

With office hygiene more important than ever, ensure your employees are properly safeguarded against illnesses with a professional cleaning service from Churchill Security. That’s right, Churchill Security not only fights crime, we also fight grime. No matter if your office is big or small, whether you’re looking for a regular service or a one-off deep clean, our expertly trained cleaning operatives will ensure your office is safe for your staff.

As offices re-open their doors to employees after lockdown, we understand that many businesses will be looking for thorough and high-quality cleaning services to keep coronavirus at bay. With our cleaning operatives regularly trained on the latest cleaning best practice, you can be sure that our range of COVID-19 deep cleaning options adhere to Public Health England Guidance.

 

Churchill Security is a leading cross-industry security company supplying comprehensive security solutions, professional cleaning services and return to work solutions to businesses across the UK.

To find out more about how Churchill Security can protect your business, contact us today.

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.