Germs and Bacteria: Exactly where are they lurking?

When you think of the area in a workplace that harbors the most germs and bacteria you might first think of the toilets: Wrong! Surprisingly enough, the keyboard contains the most germs and bacteria per square inch than any other surface in the workplace. When you step back and think about all the eating that goes on, over and around the keyboard, how many people share them, and how infrequently they are washed, it makes sense that it is a perfect spot for bacteria to thrive. Similar environments are found on office phones. Coffee spills, food crumbs, and greasy finger prints all contribute to a thriving environment for bacteria and the transfer of viral illnesses via the phone receiver: 25,127 germs per square inch!

Still dirtier than the office bathroom is the desktop. Research conducted by University of Arizona found that the average office desk held up to 400x more bacteria than the average office toilet. Lead Scientist Charles Gerba reported that on average, there were 20,961 germs per square inch found on your desk versus only 49 per square inch on your toilet! Even scarier, bacteria levels increase from 19 to 31% by lunchtime unless they are wiped down with a disinfectant.

While it may seem shocking to some, a copy machine is another place for bacteria and germs to flourish.  When someone has germs on their hands and they come in contact with other surfaces, they leave a trace of these germs and bacteria behind which then multiply and reproduce. If the environment is right, what starts off as a few germs can quickly turn into a tiny ecosystem.  If someone else touches that same spot, they pick up that bacteria and transfer it to themselves and to others. Imagine the “copy” button on your office machine, and then imagine how many fingers press it – on a day to day basis – multiple times. Keeping this in mind, it’s not surprising that this is one of the dirtiest areas in your office.

Does this information have you completely grossed out? No need to fret because there are always actions to take that can help reduce office germs. To avoid working in a bacteria-infested environment, take proactive steps to a work in a cleaner office space.



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