I went to an office the other day, and they had this ‘machine’ in the lobby that they wanted all visitors to use before entering the hall. On closer look, the machine turned out to be an oversized hand sanitiser that dispensed wads of some disinfectant gel. I didn’t make inquiries, but I’m sure that office had a below average sickness rate.
What are the dirtiest things in the office? Well, there are basically two kinds—things that you can touch and those that you can’t. We’ll talk about the tangible kind in this post. You could touch anything (or anyone) in the office, but personal health and hygiene is not the topic of this article.
Many types of infections can be transmitted through germs from objects and fixtures. The most common strain of germs that can survive for long periods on objects is known as MRSA. These germs can be picked up by people and they can become sick without quite knowing what caused the infection. Let’s take a look at the 10 dirtiest things in the office.
10. Vending Machine Buttons
It is not unusual to find vending machine buttons greasy at the edges. Ever wonder, why they are clean in the centre? That’s because the dirt in the centre is picked up by our fingers.
9. Water Fountain Buttons
Do they still have these things in offices? Surprisingly, drinking fountains are common in public places, like hospitals of all the places. It is surprising, because their push-buttons can be visibly dirty at times. Moreover, there are strong chances that these germs get picked up by users when drinking water at a fountain.
8. Computer Keyboards
Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. You wouldn’t believe the amount of germs and grime that a keyboard can hold. Touching your eyes or nose, or eating while typing can make you sick without you having a clue about what happened.
7. Microwave and Refrigerator Handles
Not many people think about cleaning the microwave or refrigerator handles around the office, but everyone uses them. The grease on these handles can hold colonies of bacteria. As people use these appliances when they are eating, they can fall sick thinking it was probably something in the food.
6. Water Faucets
Water faucets in the bathroom or break-room are another favourite hiding place for MRSA and other germs. People wash their hands when they think they are dirty, but no one ever thinks of washing the tap handle. Potentially, you may pick up germs just after washing your hands, as you close the tap.
5. Lift Buttons
If your office happens to be in a commercial building and people use a lift to move between floors, the lift buttons are another dirty thing that can hold and transfer germs.
4. The Phone
If many people are sharing a telephone at your office, you should probably wear a mask and gloves for using it. The dialling buttons can hold germs and the handset can hold germs and transfer infections.
3. The Office Magazine
We bet you never thought about the office magazine as a medium for infections. When placed in the lobby where you have people waiting, a copy of your magazine or newsletter is touched by hundreds of hands.
2. Doormats and Rugs
Carpets and doormats are not usually touched by people, but they are a significant source of dirt and germs that can even pollute the air in your office. The microscopic strands from the carpets can be inhaled by people and cause asthma.
1. Toilet Seats
The white, shiny surface of a toilet seat can be contaminated with around 300 bacteria per square inch. Avoid touching it with your bare hands.
- License: Image author owned
Dr Garry J McCLean is a health and safety consultant at The Workplace Depot