Life at the office isn’t always as clean as we’d like it to be, and we’re not just talking about the occasional foul language. If you share an office with a bunch of people, germs may be lurking in mega proportions here. If you think the restroom is the place you are most likely to pick up germs at the office, perhaps you should think again, because it’s the break room or the office kitchen which are the germ hot spot in your office. In fact, the sink and microwave handles could be the dirtiest surfaces in the entire office.
Contamination can be spread throughout the workplace when office workers heat up lunch, make coffee or simply type on their keyboards. Hygiena System SURE IITM ATP Meter is a device that is commonly used to assess sanitary conditions in industry. The device assesses the level of contamination by measuring the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) present. ATP is the universal energy molecule found in all animal, plant, yeast, bacteria and mold cells. Large amounts are present in food and organic residues, which when left on a surface can harbor and grow bacteria. However, measuring ATP does not measure the presence of germs directly, but the type of environment they favor.
An ATP count of 300 or more means the surface has a high level of contamination and there is a high risk of illness transmission. Half of all computer mice and desk phones usually have ATP counts over 100, which means while workers seem to be keeping their personal spaces reasonably clean, there is not a sufficiently high awareness of the need for good hand and surface hygiene in the office. Besides that ATP counts of 300 and above are usually on 75% of break room sink faucet (tap) handles, 48% of microwave door handles, 27% of keyboards, 26% of refrigerator door handles, 23% of water fountain buttons, and 21% of vending machine buttons.
Simple solutions to this problem include making sure there is an ample supply of sanitizing wipes in kitchens, and easy access to hand sanitizers, underpinned by education in hand and surface hygiene. No one can avoid it entirely, but by washing, wiping and sanitizing, employees can reduce their rates of cold, flu and stomach illness by up to 80%. Further, even if firms use contract cleaners to disinfect commonly used areas every day, they still need to educate their workers and give them the tools and facilities to reduce the spread of germs.