The war against germs has been waging since they were first discovered. That can be anything from a few sniffles to really serious and life-threatening illnesses.
There are many different and simple ways to protect ourselves and to stop germs from spreading to others. Mainly, it boils down to cleanliness and a bit of conscious effort.
Germs are pathogens or microorganisms that come under various headings such as viruses, bacteria etc. They are infectious and can cause disease. They are passed from one human to the next by direct or indirect contact. Humans, as well as animals, are carriers and hosts of a whole range of germs. Many are airborne and some are passed on by direct contact with body fluids or waste.
Some Simple Tips to Stop Germs from Spreading:
Most of these are centred on the use of our hands as we physically touch almost everything with our hands in an office environment. Effectively cleaning our hands or the things we use and touch with our hands is the most effective preventative measure that we can take to stop germs from spreading.
Effective Hand Washing
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time you wash them. Don’t forget to include the wrists. Remove your rings beforehand and pay attention to under your fingernails. If available, you can use a scrub brush for better results. Rinse in running water.
Use the paper towels or air dryers to dry them. Don’t touch the sink or taps after you have washed. On leaving you can also use another towel to open the door, so you don’t touch the handle. When you are out and about carry a small alcohol-based sanitiser with you.
To prevent germs from spreading to others when you know that you are sick, stay home, there is no point sharing an illness with the rest of your office.
- Use disposable tissues instead of cloth handkerchiefs, which harbour germs until they are washed.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into your hand. You may clean your hand, but some germs will remain until they can be washed. In an emergency, use the crook of your elbow to smother the outburst.
- Get out of the habit of touching your eyes, nose and mouth
In public areas you are pretty much exposed to all sorts of germs, but within your office, you have more control over the environment. Colleagues use every area of the work premises and can leave germs everywhere. The answer to cutting down on everyone’s exposure at the office is consistent cleanliness.
Germs in the Office Kitchen
- Wash and dry your hands before and after preparing food or drinks.
- Be especially careful when handling raw foods. Always wash your hands before and after.
- Clean working surfaces before and after, making sure they are dry also. Germs thrive in damp conditions.
Germs in the Work Bathrooms
- Always flush the toilet.
- Clean with a toilet cleaner.
- Remove all limescale, as germs can breed there.
- Always disinfect the rim, seat and toilet handle or button.
- Tiles, especially the grouting between them, should be washed.
- Glass panels need to be washed.
- Bathroom floors should be washed and disinfected.
Germs in Carpets and Soft Furnishings
- Soft furnishings should be steam cleaned regularly.
- Curtains and blinds can be laundered or steam cleaned too.
- Carpets vacuumed or washed on a regular basis.
- Other furnishings can be wiped down with disinfectant.
Germs in the Office Floors
- All exposed floors can be washed with water and detergent.
- If floors are dirtied by body fluids, use strong disinfectant and make sure they are dry before using again.
Avoid germs from Office Pets
- Animals are also hosts to germs, so wash your hands after playing or petting them, that goes for their toys too.
- Keep their feeding and water bowls separate from your own plates and dishes.
- Keep their food separate from yours.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after disposing of any litter or trays.
Germs on the Waste Disposal
- Use foot pedal bins and bin liners.
- Store for collection out of the office.
- Wash your hands after disposing of your waste.
Germs on the Cleaning Gear
When you clean you are also transferring germs to the cloths, brushes, mops and buckets that you use. Make sure you don’t forget to also wash them. Disinfect cloths and brushes. Use two buckets when mopping. One for water and detergent, the other for clean rinsing water.
Germs are here to stay, you can’t completely eradicate them from the workplace and live in a sterile environment, but you can take steps to cut down on the accumulation and spread of them. There’s no need to become obsessive about it, just keep in mind the simple things that you can do to protect yourselves and those around you.