• Dirty office desks ‘raising risks of staff illness’

    Twenty-eight per cent of telephones, 31% of keyboards and 36% of computer mice are not cleaned at all within the workspace, increasing the risk of Heterotrophic bacteria, E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

    That’s according to a survey of 650 UK office employees conducted by GCC Facilities Management, which highlights that the items touched the most are neglected during cleaning.

    And while it may appear many members of staff are turning a blind eye to office hygiene, a very similar percentage of employees are suffering the consequences of poor cleaning management.

    32% stated, due to poor cleanliness, they are using their own personal items to avoid communal chattels. This ranged from mugs, tupperware and bowls.

    Worryingly, almost one quarter of employees are suffering financially due to inadequate sanitation in the workplace. 23% said they have used their own personal funds to supply cleaning equipment for the sole purpose of the office.

    Communal areas received the highest praise from those surveyed. 39% were satisfied with the condition of the toilets while only 16% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

    The kitchen scored a satisfaction rate of 38% and the communal fridge was just behind at 37%. As not just a social hub, but the space in which food is prepared and consumed, there is still a concerning 13% who were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with its’ cleanliness.

    Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, the Health Clinics Medical Director of Bupa UK, said: “Surfaces and equipment can harbour dirt, viruses and bacteria that can remain active for months. Without regular office cleaning and good personal hygiene – e.g. antibacterial handwashing – there’s an increased chance of these surface germs transferring to you and giving you illnesses like flu, food poisoning and diarrhoea. If you fall ill, it’s best to take time off work to fully recover and reduce the chance of any harmful germs spreading to your colleagues.”

    Claire Maclean, Managing Director of GCC Facilities Management, added: “The findings show that desk cleanliness is easily neglected, despite the health risks that it carries and the knock-on effects it could have for businesses in terms of sickness, reduced capacity and absences. 

    “More needs to be done to firstly raise awareness of the health risks that dirtier working surfaces can have amongst office workers and secondly, businesses should take more action to ensure that their staff are working in a clean and healthy environment.”

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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