A research in the UK that was carried out in September 2011 by Viking, a UK based online office supplier revealed that, office desks are a breeding ground for bacteria. Viking swab tested 300 workplaces around the country for independent laboratory analyses. The results have revealed several different types of bacteria and moulds such as, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Micrococcus bacteria and mould was found an indicative of low level in hygiene, were frequently found on office desks, keyboards and phones. The research includes samples from large multi-national companies, small businesses, schools, hospitals and police stations.
Small and medium-sized businesses are set to lose AUD 6.84 billion over the next six months due to staff sickness from illnesses such as cold and flu, according to research by Viking. Businesses across the UK estimate that they collectively lose 63 million days/year through sickness – two thirds of which are during the winter cold and flu season. Sickness rates are 27% higher in winter. Equivalent researches in Australia would show same results.
The survey revealed that 51 per cent of the office staff was unaware of harmful bacteria found on their desks and that IT staffs, lawyers and accountants are the most unhygienic office workers. Average office has three really messy employees – most likely to be a married man in his mid-thirties. Uneaten food, dirty mugs and tissues all contributed to the dirty desks with 79% of workers eating at their desks.
56% have revealed they had a co-worker with an unorganized and messy desk, while only 40% of the survey had courage to approach a messy co-worker to become tidier.
Bacillus coming from dust or soil was found on 88% of keyboards that were swabbed.
The Staphylococcus bacteria belong to a flora on the skin like in the nose or the mouth area, which is one of the factors for food poisoning. When allowed to grow on food, this was found on 62% cent of the desks that were swabbed. On 55% of the desks were traces of Micrococcus, which are commonly found on the skin that transforms compounds into sweat; therefore, creating an unpleasant odour. Aside from the six desks, a mould was found underneath the keyboard.
The top dirty items on a colleague’s desk are the following:
- Piles of paper
- Dirty mugs
- Mouldy or uneaten food
- General dirt
- Food wrappers
- Empty drink cans
- Old newspapers and magazines
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