Statistically, almost one-third of our lives, give or take, are spent at work. Working in a clean, safe office environment, you might think your employees and visitors are safe from harm. You might be right but, lurking in the recesses, nooks and crannies of a clean environment are potential dangers that you cannot see, hear or feel until it may be too late.
The office space is probably infested with bacteria as a result of dust, food particles and other contaminants that have accumulated over time. Everything seems fine on the surface, but dig a little deeper, and the potential for illness in staff as a result of poor hygiene in the workplace is a very real one.
According to the latest statistics available on the HSE website, some 2,000 cases of illness in employees which could be traced back to their workplace were reported in one year. In each case, office cleaning and space cleaning was carried out but not deep cleaning, merely superficial cleaning.
Admittedly most of the cases were reported from healthcare premises such as care homes and hospital premises where the risk of infection and disease spread is much higher. A small percentage of illnesses and infections were traced back to regular office workplaces.
The reports and confirmations of illness and infection were typically:
- Blood infection
- Skin irritation (chemical)
One case of sepsis was diagnosed and, although it couldn’t be traced back to the exact cause, the cause was narrowed down. It was concluded by the health professionals who investigated the case that it was more than probable the patient’s sepsis was the result of infection caused by bacteria present on a sharp edge of the work surface in the company’s restroom.
Hygiene In The Workplace
Just like in the home, the kitchen, washroom and toilets are potential breeding ground for bacteria. In the home, it is not such an issue as regular cleaning takes place, usually on a weekly basis with some cleaning chores undertaken every day.
In the workplace, it is often a collective responsibility for basic cleaning of personal spaces and communal areas, but all it takes is one or two people not to pull their weight and over time hygiene standards dip. This can cause resentment so, if you do have a cleaning rota in place, make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities and when it is their turn on the rota.
However, it isn’t just those three locations where bacteria can build up and become a potential health issue. Most office workers eat ‘on the go’ and more often than not while they are at their desks. Crumbs of bread, sugar from doughnuts, tiny pieces sandwich filling and other edibles can be found in the smallest of gaps. Keyboards on desks, for example, are dirtier and more contaminated with bacteria than a typical toilet bowl.
Over time bacteria and contaminants will build up – it may come to nothing, but the potential for infection or illness as a result of a dirty work environment is real.
It is advisable that owners of companies or the designated member of staff responsible for office cleaning and workplace management have a cleaning regime in place. This might include a staff rota for communal areas and the provision of professional office cleaning services.
General cleaning on a daily or weekly basis, but a workplace should be deep cleaned on a reasonably regular basis. While healthcare establishments will need to be deep cleaned on a much more frequent basis, a regular office environment might only require a deep clean once a year or perhaps bi-annually.
Deep cleaning means moving furniture such as desks and chairs. It means moving filing cabinets, printers and photocopiers, computer hardware and other items which are static throughout the year.
Deep cleaning will target, for example:
- Light switches
- Door handles
- Ventilation ducts
- Window sills
Deep cleaning may also include steam cleaning of carpets and vinyl flooring, to exterminate bacteria and other microscopic debris which may have fallen between the fibres of the mats.
If there are any rugs laid out on the carpets, mats by entrance doors or mats on the floors of toilets, these will need to be removed and cleaned just like the carpets.
Engage A Professional
Cleaning services are also a legitimate workplace expense and can be accounted as such. On a day to day basis and for deep cleaning, the best way to ensure your workplace remains clean and healthy is by way of professional cleaning services like that offered by the team at https://www.regionalservices.co.uk/.
Experts in workspace and office cleaning, they can mitigate the potential risk of illness or infection to employees, a real danger in the modern workplace.