OSEA Safety Blog

Dirty Little Secrets: Germs in the Workplace

Friday, May 17, 2019 Ariana Naumovski

Flu season may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you’re free from germs and the common cold and flu, especially at work. Absence from work due to the common cold/flu is the number one reason for days away from work. But unfortunately, not everyone takes time off when they are sick. Roughly 70% of people say that they still come into work even when they feel sick; in turn, jeopardizing the health of other employees and spreading their illness quickly. Many employees feel compelled to go to work, even when they are sick, due to growing demands of the workplace and not enough sick leave provided by companies.

But you don’t have to have a sick coworker in the office to catch some of these germs. 80% of infections are spread through contaminated surfaces. For example, the average work desk is 400 times more contaminated with germs than the average toilet seat! This happens when employees do not wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. The reality is, about 50% of workers don’t wash their hands properly – or even at all – after using the lavatory. Along with the work desk, some of the most common surfaces that carry the most germs include:

  • Keyboard & mouse
  • Door handles
  • Pens
  • Phones
  • Water fountains

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to reduce your risk of infection and illness. Some of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and getting sick at work are:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Stay home if you have any cold/flu symptoms
  • Don’t touch your face!
  • Disinfect your desk and equipment frequently
  • Evaluate the cleaning contract to include more detailed cleaning
  • Keep your distance from sick coworkers
  • Contain your coughs & sneezes

Summer months doesn’t mean there is no potential for getting sick with the common cold/flu. That’s why it’s important to take these little precautions to reduce your risk of contracting an unwanted and very unpleasant illness.







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