More bacteria on office keyboards than toilet seats

2010-01-28 00:00

IT is surprising to think an office key- board can pose a greater health risk than a toilet seat, but unfortunately it is true. Health and hygiene protocols in office environments very seldom include strict rules when it comes to food and work stations. More recently, the awareness of overall hygiene, including the office environment, has come to the fore with the global swine flu ­epidemic. “It is without a doubt unhygienic for personnel to eat frequently at their desks as the combination of food morsels, hair and skin build up in a key board. This promotes bacteria and viruses to produce and spread,” says technical director of Rentokil SA, Terry Ivison.

For this very reason, Rentokil has decided to urge its staff not to eat at their desks and to be more cautious of the health risks involved. Proper lunch breaks will motivate staff not to take food to their work stations. As a result, the likeliness of pests such as rodents, fleas and cockroaches will be reduced, and germs will be less likely to fester.

The up-side of the potential health threat is how easily it can be avoided to create a hygienic work environment. Tips should be readily available in all office spaces to avoid unpleasant surprise visits from pests such as mice or rats. Apart from not eating at your desk, food should not be hoarded at any work station, but rather be kept in a dedicated kitchen area. Should you make crumbs, ensure the floor space around you is clear to allow cleaners to reach it. Bins should contain bin ­liners to avoid residue build-up which will provide a food source for pests such as cockroaches, wasps and rodents.

Surfaces should be kept dry, and steer clear of overwatering your office plants as fruit flies thrive in damp environments. On a more personal hygiene side, you should wash your hands after you’ve touched items exposed to a large amount of germs such as ATMs and public transport. At the office, hot­desking should be avoided as sharing a phone is the quickest way of contracting and spreading germs. As a rule, IT equipment should not be shared.

It is hard for staff to clean ­effectively in phone headsets or under keyboard keys, other than doing the standard short-term surface clean. To ensure optimal office hygiene is put in place, a pest control expert should be ­contacted.

For more information regarding office hygiene, visit or check out deBugged, the Rentokil blog.

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