As schools, businesses and public organisations reopen their doors across Europe and the rest of the world, effective cleaning processes and hygienic standards have never been more important. We will see a gradual return of the workforce to offices, meaning that employers are duty-bound to protect their staff and site visitors at all times. In the latest blog from Antios, we share some tips around office hygiene, pointing out those little-known infection hotspots that require a special focus.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, cleaning processes would have placed a strong focus on those typical areas that you imagine: toilets, food preparation environments and food storage areas, for example. However, the highly transmissible nature of the virus has highlighted the importance of proper cleaning and disinfecting across all areas, including corridors, offices and all work surfaces. Before we share some tips around protecting staff and visitors at your office space, please consult the following information from UK Research and Innovation, highlighting some facts on the longevity of the virus on hard surfaces:
“Evidence collected for SARS-CoV-2 showed that viruses in droplet aerosols (a fine mist) had a half-life of just over an hour but some could survive for three hours or more. Infectious virus could be detected on copper surfaces for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for at least 72 hours. These observations of virus persistence underline the value of regular disinfection of surfaces and attention to hand hygiene in controlling the spread of infection.”
This statement further underlines the importance of thorough cleaning and infection control. Indeed, as we enter a new normal, it is essential that business owners and office managers take the right steps towards protecting their staff. Aside from providing effective personal protective equipment and approved cleaning products, we have a collective responsibility to curtail the risk of infection by focusing on infection hotspots – many of which you may not be aware of. Let’s take a look.
Office Infection Hotpots and Protecting Your Office
Now that we understand how the virus can survive on materials and surfaces, we must act on that knowledge to protect workers and visitors at our offices. This means ramping up your cleaning processes, placing proper focus on infection hotspots across your premises. We’ve picked out some of the most high-risk areas, sharing some tips on cleaning those areas effectively.
Desk, Keyboard and Mouse
The vast majority of offices spend most of their time at their desks. However, this doesn’t mean that desk spaces are the cleanest areas of our offices. In fact, desks are one of the riskiest infection hotspots in any workplace. In 2018, The Independent shared findings of a research report which stated over two-thirds of British workers were at risk of contracting illness due to dirty desks, with these work surfaces harbouring up to 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.
The fact is that your desk, including the keyboard and mouse, is home to a huge breeding ground of harmful bacteria. Infection is commonly spread after workers come into contact with their computer equipment – and this is aided by poor hand washing and sanitation practices. This is even more problematic in collaborative workspaces and hotdesk environments, which significantly increase the risk of viral contamination. It’s absolutely critical that we properly clean and disinfect these objects and surfaces, disposing of waste like tissues properly and regularly cleaning the keyboard to remove a build-up of dust and contaminants.
Doorknobs, Mugs, Photocopiers & Elevator Buttons
Doorknobs, mugs and photocopiers are known as ‘high risk’ areas. This is because they regularly come into contact with human hands multiple times a day, acting as fertile breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and other contaminants. This also applies to window handles, car doors, keypads, vending machines, tap handles and more. Without a proper cleaning process and hand sanitation standard, the spread of infection via these high risk areas is inevitable.
Even riskier are food and liquid containers – particularly mugs. Mugs are rarely washed properly, creating a perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria. In the age of Covid-19 it is absolutely critical that employers advocate the following:
- Wash mugs thoroughly with soap and hot water after use;
- DO NOT share mugs, classes or cutlery under any circumstances;
- Use sterile water to wash mugs, classes and cutlery;
- Store mugs in an area which is regularly disinfected; and
- If you use a dishwasher, ensure this is regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Refrigerators and Food Storage Spaces
Early evidence suggests that Covid-19 flourishes in refrigerated environments – as do many harmful pathogens and bacteria. Pre-Covid, office workers across all industries have often shared a fridge, with proper cleaning and disinfection often coming as an afterthought. Viral transmission can occur if you touch fridges after your colleagues have unwittingly contaminated them. Equally, expired food and opened containers can present significant risks (including listeria, salmonella and e-coli).
You can create a safe refrigerator and food storage space by taking the following measures:
- Use a thermometer and store food at a cool temperature;
- Remove out-of-date items;
- Clear, clean and disinfect the fridge on a weekly basis;
- Use properly sealed containers;
- Separate ready-to-eat food from raw food.
Protecting Your Office Space: How Antios Can Help
Antios are leading suppliers of antibacterial and biodegradable wipe products, offering personalised, branded and totally customisable orders ranging from a single carton of wipes up to multiple pallet-loads. With extensive stock holding facilities, deliveries are completed within an average of 1-3 working days. To inquire about large, bulk-sized deliveries or to discuss how we can help your organisation enter the new normal with a rebranding deal, get in touch with our expert team today.