This post was created by Dr. Allison Aiello, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and member of SCA Tissue’s Tork® Green Hygiene Council™ (TGHC).
It’s no secret the average American in the workplace spends most of their day sitting at a desk, but what may be shocking to many are the amount of viruses and virus-causing bacteria that can survive on common surfaces such as computer keyboards and telephones. There are millions of bacteria on hands when they are unwashed, and once transferred to a desktop or other office surface, some of these microbes can stay alive for days.
According to a recent survey by the American Dietetic Association i, 57 percent of workers snack at their desks at least once a day. More than 75 percent of workers “only occasionally” clean their desks before eating and 20 percent never do. Using a shared work space that is not clean could increase the risk of transmission of infections, such as colds and influenza.
With cold and flu season approaching, it’s an important time to practice safe hygiene by keeping your workspace sanitary. Maintaining the cleanliness of your workspace may prevent illness and maintain the health of you and co-workers around you.
I recommend following these simple and easy tips for cleaning your workspace to fight the spread of illness at work.
Sanitize surfaces daily.
- Germs can live for a long time (some can live for days) on surfaces such as desks and tables. Surfaces such as doorknobs, computer keyboards and telephones are all places in a workspace that we use often every day and may even share with others. These shared work surfaces may help spread infectious illnesses, but we typically fail to sanitize these items. You can prevent illness by wiping down surfaces like these with a disinfectant wipe at the end of each day.
Keep hand sanitizer at your desk.
- While hand-washing with soap and water is more effective at killing bacteria, keeping hand sanitizer gel or wipes at hand is a great way to prevent sickness when soap and water isn’t readily available. Wash hands regularly and often.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionii , one of the most important measures to fight cold and flu infections is to wash your hands. Washing your hands after using the restroom or eating meals is a fool-proof way to keep germs from getting onto your workspace and prevents germs from spreading around your office. Wash hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
Practice safe hygiene.
- Easy and effective measures to maintain optimal health include keeping your hands away from your mouth, nose or eyes after touching surfaces or interacting with others and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of germs and viruses around the workspace.
What is the Tork® Green Hygiene Council™ (TGHC)?
Formed by SCA at the end of 2009, the TGHC is an industry-first panel of experts who provide perspective and advice surrounding sustainability and hygiene. The TGHC provide best-practice information and ensures the public is up-to-date on the latest sustainability trends and hygiene methods.
The recently published Tork Report: Healthy People, Healthy Planet highlights the benefit of this kind of collaboration. The report features research findings on business sustainability and the H1N1 pandemic with commentary and insight from the TGHC, as well as actions people can take for healthier homes and businesses.
The Council participates in roundtable discussions, provides keynote speeches at leading industry conferences, leads sustainability and hygiene forums and guest blogs here on various key issues. On www.torkgreenhygienecouncil.com you can also find additional resources including articles and copies of TGHC presentations.