Photo by tamburix
For most employees, their office computer is simply an essential part of their daily professional life. But are they aware just how much of a risk their keyboards can pose to their health? Studies have shown that some office keyboards can harbor up to 5 times more bugs than a toilet seat – not surprising when 1 in 10 people admit that they never clean any hard surfaces on their computer!
Read on to discover just what nasty bugs could be lurking between those keys. And just how easily they can cause an epidemic in the workplace…
Often Eat Lunch At Your Desk? Think Again!
Studies have shown that one of the most common ways that germs multiply on keyboards is through decomposing food that has been dropped between keys during lunch breaks. This is particularly the case for high risk food groups such as cheese and meat products, which can breed dangerous listeria bacteria which, on entering the bloodstream, can cause nasty food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting, cramps and fever.
This is not the only form of bacteria that can be bred by decaying food. Swabs in tests have shown that traces of staphylococcus aureus (of which the superbug MRSA is a form) and coliforms (coming mainly from infected water) have also been found on objects. Should a person with a low immune system come into contact with such diseases, they could present fatal in extreme cases.
What’s worse is that in ideal conditions, listeria and coliforms can survive up to and beyond the 2 week mark – scary stuff!
When an Individual Case of the Cold Becomes an Office Epidemic
From the many adverts on TV, we all know just how easily cold and flu germs can be spread. Given that the average office worker touches 30 surfaces per minute, it is not surprising that these germs can easily find their way onto your keyboard.
The cold and flu viruses can live for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces, so the window of opportunity for contamination, combined with the high contagiousness of these bacteria, means that the chances of this virus shutting down the office is by no means out of the question.
Promoting High Hygiene Levels: Essential in the Office
Not only does a clean office promote a sense of well-being and high morale by keeping workers healthy, but there are also economic factors to take into consideration. Studies have shown that companies could lose up to £32 billion per year due to workers having to take sick days – a figure which would only increase with poor hygiene standards.
To avoid such problems offices must not only be kept clean, but efforts should also be made to encourage regular hand washing (studies have shown that 15% of people admit to not washing their hands after using the bathroom).
Should such individuals have bacteria such as enterococcus in their system; this can easily be transferred to keyboards and passed along to others. Symptoms of this infection include sickness and diarrhea and, what makes it worse is that this strain can be very resistant to antibiotics and therefore be tricky to treat.
And Remember… Prevention is Always Better than a Cure!
Overall the most important thing to remember is that you can take simple steps to ensure you have the lowest chance possible of infection: wash your hands, keep your keyboard clean (using alcohol based products or antibacterial washes) and even take vitamin C to boost your immune system. A clean workplace will not only result in an improvement in health of your office workers, but also in that of your company’s economic situation.
To find out just how much money illness-causing bacteria could be costing you, check out Evo Cleaning’s office cleaning calculator– you may just get an unpleasant shock!
Jade Douglas is a keen blogger who takes a particular interest in traveling, advancements in the modern world and writing about issues that affect modern society.