Your workplace may have more germs than you think - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Your workplace may have more germs than you think

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Flu season has arrived so now we be a good time to start taking extra precautions to keep germs away. But germs are lurking everywhere and the includes all over the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that "up to 80% of all infections are spread by hand contact with contaminated surfaces and direct human contact. So, most of the places we touch and come in contact with are likely harborers of germs."

Germs don't just pose a risk for the individual exposed to them, they also pose a risk to productivity in the workplace. Influenza alone is responsible for about 200 million days of reduced productivity and 75 million days of work absence annually according to the National Health Interview Survey. 

So what places in the workplace are the germiest?

Telephones: Desk phones, especially shared desk phones are a major violator of cleanliness. Think of all the different people in a single day who may be touching the phone with the hands while their mouth nearly rests on the surface. An estimated 25,000 germs per square inch can live on the workplace telephone. To prevent illness, consider wiping the phone down periodically throughout the day with sanitizing wipes. 

Elevator Buttons: Think of all the fingers that take turns pushing the buttons to get to a designated floor. Consider using your elbow of knuckle to push the button or carry a handkerchief with you for times like this when potentially germy surfaces must be touched. 

Computer Keyboards: A workplace keyboard is one place that pretty much have fingertips resting on is constantly throughout the day, so wherever those finger have been, the computer keyboard has likely been there too. For this reason, the workplace keyboard is often germier than the toilet seat. The computer keyboard is also the perfect surface for catching all those droplets from a sneeze and all those times people cough while sitting at their desk, either into their hands or out in the open, you can bet those germs are landing comfortably... on the keyboard. It's estimated keyboards can have more than 200 times as many bacteria as a toilet seat! Yikes! You're definitely going to want to pull out the Lysol for this one. 

Water Fountain: If you're really worried about germs, you will probably avoid the workplace water fountain at all costs. You're much better off just bringing a water bottle from home. And just to be clear, we're talking about the kind people drink directly from. It is estimated that there are 2.7 MILLION bacteria per square inch on public drinking fountains! 

Bathrooms: Obviously bathrooms are going to be full of germs. In fact bacteria in the bathroom is pretty much everywhere. Most office bathrooms don't have toilet seats and their main function is actually to keep germs contained. Flushing the toilet without the toilet seat down can literally spray particles up to 20 feet in the air. Use paper towels to turn off faucets after washing your hands and use one to open the door too. 

According to the CDC handwashing is what everyone should be doing multiple times a day to void off germs. "Handwashing is like a "do-it-yourself" vaccine you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. It's quick, it's simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick. Handwashing is a win for everyone, except the germs."

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