HOW FAST DO OFFICE GERMS SPREAD? YOU’D BE SURPRISED.
All it takes is one employee to show up to work sick and by lunchtime more than half of all commonly touched surfaces in your office will be infected. What is more alarming is that those office germs are then transferred to other staff and customers who can carry them to the restaurant, convenience store, bank, or any other establishment they visit.
Those were the conclusions reached in a study at the University of Arizona. Researchers applied droplets to the hands of 10 participants in an office environment at the beginning of the workday. Most of the droplets were plain water, but one participant received droplets containing artificial viruses designed to mimic the common cold, the flu, and a stomach bug. Within four hours more than 50% of surfaces and 50% of employees were infected with at least one of the viruses. By day’s end, up to 70% of surfaces were infected.
That is how fast germs can spread in a typical office environment. What is interesting is that the spread of those germs is not necessarily through airborne contaminates or direct contact with an infected individual. The germs are more readily spread when they are transferred to a surface by an individual. The germs can remain active on that surface for hours or even days. When another individual touches the infected surface they pick up the germs and transfer them to the next surface they touch. It is a vicious cycle.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MITIGATE THE SPREAD OF OFFICE GERMS?
The fact that office germs are spread via common surfaces means that regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces can help to break the cycle. High-touch surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, keyboards, and phones, as well as common areas like break rooms, water coolers, restrooms, and kitchens, are all areas to target with regular cleaning and disinfecting.
Of course, regular hand washing can also help mitigate the spread of office germs. Office employees should be encouraged to regularly wash their hands throughout the day and providing hand sanitizers is a relatively inexpensive way to encourage more frequent hand hygiene.
In fact, at the University of Arizona, a follow-up study was conducted by researchers to see how effective these interventions are in a similar setting. In the follow-up, study participants were provided with tissues to discourage coughing and sneezing into one’s hands. Hand sanitizers were placed at every desk and participants were encouraged to use them. And every individual was provided disinfecting wipes to use on high-touch surfaces like keyboards, desktops, phones, and computer mice.
With these interventions in place, the exact same experiment was conducted. The follow-up study concluded that with these interventions in place the risk of infection from contaminated surfaces was reduced by up to 90%.
In addition to the aforementioned interventions, daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols can ensure that office germs do not linger into the next business day. Many germs and viruses can survive on surfaces for three or more days. A nightly cleaning and disinfecting program can ensure a safe return to the office for you and your staff.
NEED HELP WITH YOUR CLEANING AND DISINFECTING PROTOCOLS?
Complete Care Maintenance provides office cleaning and disinfecting services throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We can help ensure that your workday starts in a thoroughly clean and germ-free environment. We also can help with the provisioning of hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, and other janitorial supplies. Call or contact us today to learn more.