The cold and flu season, which runs from mid-December to March according to the CDC, is quickly approaching. Here are a few surprising things to know about the risks of your office for you and your employees.
1. Up to 80% of Employees Will Come to Work Sick
Recent studies have shown repeatedly that the majority of employees will come to the office while they are sick - as many as 80% reported doing so by a poll completed by Staples. Even if they did go home sick, up to two-thirds indicate they will return to work while they are still contagious.
2. Bacteria and Viruses Can Survive For Days
According to Dr. Charles Gerba, Environmental microbiologist from the University of Arizona, "coughing and sneezing can leave behind a 'minefield of viruses' that can live on a surface for up to 3 days. Influenza is known to last up to 24 hours, especially on hard surfaces like you would find in a typical office environment.
3. Eating At Your Desk Could be Harmful
Employees may eat lunch at their desk as a way to squeeze in a few more minutes of their day, but they could be putting themselves at risk. Leave a few crumbs behind and you've created a breeding ground for bacteria. According to some reports, as many as 47% of working adults will eat lunch at their desk.
4. Your Desk May Have More Bacteria Than a Toilet Seat
Think through the typical things you see your cleaning crew touch - they vacuum, they take out the trash, they clean the bathrooms - but do they clean anything on your desk? Studies have shown that the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than an average toilet seat. Keyboards can be especially hard to clean so many of us don't - 50% of people don't clean it more than once a month and 10% never bother at all. Dr. Gerba also reported that he has found that they could reduce absenteeism in schools by 50% simply by disinfecting their desks once a day.
5. Break Rooms Are Another Hidden Danger
Another area of your office that you might not think about that could be placing you at risk for exposure is your break room.
A study by “The Healthy Workplace Project" found high levels of contamination on these surfaces:
- 75 percent of break room sink faucet handles
- 48 percent of microwave door handles
- 26 percent of refrigerator door handles
- 23 percent of water fountain buttons
- 21 percent of vending machine buttons
6. New ultraviolet light Technologies Are Available to Protect Your Office
While hand washing will always be a necessary line of defense to protect from person-to-person contact, implementing strategies to disinfect your office can help reduce illnesses. Some experts even say that implementing certain protocols could help cut absenteeism in half.
Violet Defense has a variety of solutions that reduce the number of bacteria on surfaces that are not cleaned by the custodial staff or that may have been missed. These solutions could be installed to run automatically over night to help employees start each day in a clean office, added to your bathrooms, or added as part of the cleaning staff's nightly routine.
For more information on how Violet Defense can add a layer of protection to help keep your employees healthy and productive, contact us.