If we’ve learned one thing from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s how easily germs can be transmitted by touch. This makes shared spaces, like offices, high-risk areas for the transmission of germs and bacteria.
With a little preparation and regular cleaning, you can keep those high-touch areas clean and sanitary and minimise the risk of infection around the office. To help out, we’ve put together a list of the highest risk germ spots around the office.
Focus your regular office cleaning on these areas, and you’ll be one step closer to a germ-free office.
If you work in an office, then chances are you’re touching your keyboard and mouse more than anything else. That means that anything else you touch throughout the day could find its way onto your keyboard, and from there to anywhere in the office. And if you use a shared computer then the risk is even higher.
To reduce the number of germs and bacteria living on your keyboard and mouse, keep a box of disinfectant wipes on your desk and regularly wipe down all high-touch components of your computer. It hardly seems necessary to say it these days, but you should also regularly wash your hands and use hand sanitiser.
Telephones, whether it’s your desk phone or mobile phone, phones are high-touch items that are hotbeds for germs.
Not only are we touching them often, but since we speak into them there’s a high potential for minute particles of saliva containing germs to land on the device. If another person then uses the phone, they can easily come into contact with the germs.
As with computers, sanitise your phone regularly. Additionally, try and use the speaker function where possible to avoid keeping the phone so close to your mouth.
While computers may have overtaken pen and paper as the key office tool, traditional stationery certainly isn’t gone from every workplace. From taking notes to working out problems by hand, stationery is still popular. But just like computers, they can be potential virus transmitters.
Wash your hands throughout the day to limit the transfer of germs to your pencils and pens. It’s also a good idea to never use someone else’s pen or to let someone else use yours. If either of you have a habit of chewing on the end you risk introducing mouth-based germs to the equation.
- Door handles
There’s no avoiding using a door handle in pretty much any environment, including the office. Unless there are automatic doors or someone opens it for you, you’ll have to touch the handle, along with everyone else.
If possible, avoid using door handles by keeping doors slightly ajar so they can be pushed open with a shoulder or foot. Otherwise, wash your hands after touching a door handle or use a sanitising wipe.
- Lift Buttons
Like door handles, lift buttons are a high-touch spot. However, they can be a little easier to avoid.
For additional health benefits, take the stairs rather than the lift. You’ll get some incidental exercise, while avoiding germs. If you do need to use lift buttons, wash your hands afterwards. Alternatively, carry some sanitising wipes to clean your hands after you’ve touched the buttons.
Railings, like door handles and lift buttons, will see a lot of action on a regular basis.
Avoid using railings when you can. If you can’t, remember to wash your hands straight after.
- Bathroom Taps
Bathrooms can be clean spaces, but they can also be incredibly dirty. And while many people might expect the toilet seat to be the dirtiest place in the bathroom, it’s actually usually the taps.
This is because people will touch the taps after going to the bathroom and therefore transfer germs. So what can you do?
If they’re an option, use a sensor tap over traditional taps that must be touched. Otherwise, wash your hands thoroughly if you must touch the tap. Having some sanitising wipes to use either to clean the tap or clean your hands after using the tap is also a good idea.
- Kitchen Appliances
As people will regularly be in the kitchen handling food in various states of preparation, it’s fair to expect germs, including food-borne bacteria. While most people are good about washing food and hands, kitchen appliances can be easily overlooked.
Where possible, avoid using kitchen appliances. For instance, bring in food from home that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated. If you do need to use the fridge, microwave or kettle, wash your hands before touching food. Additionally, you can wipe down handles or buttons on appliances with sanitising wipes.
- Dishes and Cutlery
Along with appliances, dishes and cutlery are prime hot spots in the kitchen for germs. This is particularly true if people at your office do not wash up after their meals. Some food-borne bacteria can double in number in less than 20 minutes when left on a dirty dish.
If possible, bring in your own dishes and cutlery to use. Don’t forget to take them home each day to wash them thoroughly. If you need to use shared dishes, wash them before using.
- Vending Machine
If there’s a vending machine at your work, this can be another germ hotspot. Not only are people touching the buttons on the machine, but they’re also handling cash and cards, which can also carry a lot of germs. As a result, vending machine buttons can be especially high risk.
Be aware of the germ risks when using vending machines and make sure you sanitise your hands thoroughly afterwards. Read another post on How to Maintain a Clean Working Environment
While there’s no way to completely eliminate the germ risk in high-traffic shared spaces like offices, with a little planning and good hygiene habits, you can at least dramatically reduce the risks.