In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people have become increasingly concerned with protecting themselves from germs and bacteria – and with good reason.
Good personal health and hygiene habits are essential for staving off infection and minimising contact with germs and bacteria.
While many Australian businesses have already moved to working from home, some people aren’t so lucky. Essential services still require people to come into work. And for these people, maintaining and cleaning work space, whether it’s a desk or a supermarket checkout, is essential to minimise the spread of infection.
When it comes to desk, office or checkout workers, your workspace can be an incredibly germ-ridden space. Given how much time you spend at your workstation each day and how many other people you share the space with, the risk of infection is incredibly high. While regular commercial cleaning should clean and disinfect your workspace each day, what about the build-up of germs and bacteria during the day?
Well, don’t stress! There are some simple steps you can follow to keep your workplace clean, healthy and germ-free.
Identify the at-Risk Areas
Understanding what equipment and areas are the dirtiest, will help you to prioritise cleaning and understand how to treat each surface. The surfaces that carry the most bacteria and are the highest risk when it comes to transferring infection are those that are regularly touched. It could be surfaces that are regularly touched by a lot of different people, like door handles, or surfaces you touch regularly, like your touch screen, keyboard or mouse.
These are some of the highest risk surfaces in the workplace:
- Your hands
- Keyboard and mouse
- Touch screens
- Eftpos terminals
- Office chairs
- Phones and intercom systems
- Microwave and fridge handle and kitchens taps
- Door handles
- Elevator buttons
- Bathroom surfaces including door handles, taps and faucets and toilets
Keeping these Surfaces Clean
Maintaining a clean personal workspace is not just about keeping yourself healthy. It’s also about keeping other people healthy by reducing the risk of infection. By keeping your hands clean and your workspace surfaces clean, you are minimising your own risk of infection, while reducing the chance that you’re going to spread harmful bacteria to other surfaces and other people.
These are some of the best ways to keep your workspace clean and sanitised.
- Wash your hands
By now, you’ve properly heard this a lot, but one of the best ways to stop the spread of infection is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. This will help to disinfect your hands, reducing how much bacteria you move from surface to surface. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds.
- Use hand sanitiser
In between washing your hands, it’s worth making regular use of hand sanitiser. These are usually alcohol based and will disinfect your hands without the need to wash them with water. Try to use a sanitiser that’s at least 60% alcohol. It’s worth getting into the habit of sanitising your hands when you enter your workspace and when you exit.
- Use antibacterial wipes
Antibacterial wipes are a quick and easy way to disinfect your workplace surfaces during the day. Regularly running a wipe over high touch areas will keep them clean and free from bacteria and infection. Specific desk areas to pay attention to include your touch screen, keyboard and mouse, your phone (landline and mobile), chair arms, eftpos terminal, your desktop and door handles.
Beyond your own workspace, it’s worth regularly using antibacterial wipes on surfaces in shared spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and meeting rooms. Staff should be encouraged to wipe down shared surfaces after using them. You could even assign different people throughout the day to give the shared surfaces a quick wipe down. This will help get everyone into good hygiene habits and ensure that all office surfaces are regularly disinfected throughout the day.
- Stay home if sick
Staying home if you feel sick matters now more than ever. While some people feel the need to soldier on and work through an illness, the reality is that you’re just putting everyone else at risk of infection. If you’re feeling sick, then just stay home. If possible, try to organise a work from home situation so you can continue working without the risk of making others sick.
- Encourage others to stay home
It’s always important to remember that public health is a collective effort. Your choices don’t just affect your health, they affect the health of others. It’s vital that workplaces and colleagues help to create an environment that encourages people to stay home if they’re feeling sick. Try to support others in their choice to stay home. Discourage those who are feeling ill from coming into work. Try to supply the resources needed to work from home and do what you can to help cover any sick person’s shift or workload.
Maintaining a clean and healthy workplace is just one of the ways you can help to slow the spread of infection. Check out the Department of Health and Human Services for other guidelines on how to reduce the spread of infection and help keep Australia safe and healthy.