Why washing hands at the office is never enough

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Fingers on keys
As fast as you wash germs off your hands, the things on your desk put them back

Wowee, lookit!

Hands immaculate, fresh scrubbed with soap and water.

No germs gonna get you, right?

Wrong.

The germ comeback

Because what’s the first thing you do when you get back to your desk?

Put your hands on the keyboard – lots to do, got to get on.

Except when was the last time your keyboard got scrubbed?

Probably never, no?

Oh dear.

Because if you’re like most people, you probably eat at your desk – like 74% of women and 64% of men. Driven by the work ethic, concern for job security, or determined not to go out because it means spending money.

Whatever. Eat at your desk and what’s the bet it’s mostly convenience food ? Sandwich, pizza, burger, fish and chips. Easy to eat with your fingers, good junk food to stoke up the furnace.

Uh huh.

Which means greasy fingers all over the keys.

What! You don’t touch your computer while you’re eating? Yeah, yeah – we gotcha, and you know it.

Or more accurately, you got yourself.

Same again, Sam

Touch that keyboard with your pristine clean fingers – and you’re right back where you started. Contaminated again with whatever is lurking there – pneumonia, diarrhoea, influenza – none of the possibilities is good.

So what are you going to do, clean your keyboard every time you eat too?

As if. The easiest way is with pre-moistened antiseptic wipes and a knife. Around twenty minutes, last time we checked. Oh – and you ought to turn your computer off as well. Don’t want things going bang with all that moisture – or frying your hard drive.

Mm, so it isn’t going to happen, is it? Too much PT.

And it’s not just your keyboard. It’s your whole desk. And your phone. The input panel on the photocopier. The lift buttons. All the things that you touch, that other people touch, that have germs from greasy fingers and whatever they brought in from outside.

Well done you, for washing your hands – but you’re still up a gum tree.

Looks clean but isn’t

Because let’s say Facilities Management have the cleaners in every night to look after the place. It’s just keeping up appearances, right? Anything, so long as the place LOOKS clean. So the carpets get done and the bins emptied.

Maybe the desks wiped too. Impressive microfibre cloth, yes – but the same one every time. So the germs from one desk get transferred to another – till all desks are contaminated to the same level. And boy, we mean contaminated – like with 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.

Hmm, so even though you washed your hands, you’re doomed to get a bug? Flu, e.coli, norovirus? Whatever’s doing the rounds?

OK, suppose we told you, you could get away without sitting there like a guava, wiping down your keyboard every five minutes – just to keep yourself safe? That once you’d washed your hands, you could go to your keyboard, with little or no chance of winding up in hospital?

Yeah, but…

Oh sure, it’s like that now, you say. You’ve been there five years and ain’t caught nothing yet.

Really? Sure those aren’t porkies? Doesn’t everyone get flu every winter? An don’t you always have the sniffles, just as much as everyone else?

Yeah, we hear you. And suppose we could take the sniffles away too – so they don’t happen any more in your office? Not counting of course the mad weekends freezing in the stands, while your team crashes out of the league 2-nil?

You’re still gonna have to wipe off the greasy finger marks – but making the germs go away is easy-peasy. Tell the Facilities Management people get a Hypersteriliser.

Never heard of it?

You will.

There’s a lot of worried doctors right now, tearing their hair out because we’ve OD’d on antibiotics over the last 50 years – and now they’re not working because the bugs are immune.

Which means either get rid of germs BEFORE any of them can get to you – or take your chances in hospital AFTER they’ve struck, knowing the miracle drugs can’t save you any more.

Which is what a Hypersteriliser does – take out ALL the virus and bacteria in your workspace. Make the place sterile, so you’re safe.

Press button simple

Like we said, easy-peasy.

Press a button and the thing mists the place up with an ultra-fine spray of ionised hydrogen peroxide. The ionising is crucial because it creates a kind of super-gas – electrically charged to disperse actively in all directions at one – attracting germs like a magnet, annihilating them to nothing.

But wait a minute, aren’t some bacteria beneficial? Isn’t getting rid of them destructive?

Two things.

With most bacteria so small there’s billions and billions of them in every square inch, you can’t exactly ask them “are you nice?” or “are you nasty?” and still have time for a life.

More significantly, everybody’s different. You might be OK yourself, but most of us have an underlying condition of some kind – asthma, a weak tummy, prone to headaches – all kinds of things.

You and other people

So while you’re untouched, the same bug takes out your colleague – and every illness can have complications. Norovirus, for instance, can lead to dehydration. Which can mean hospital and all kinds of problems. 800 of us die from it, every year.

And, wouldn’t you guess? There’s no medicine for norovirus – just like there’s no medicine that’s sure to clobber flu. Yeah, there’s a vaccine – prepared for this year’s strain. But the germs mutate so fast, it’s a guessing game to get it right.

More medicine that doesn’t work. More reasons to stay out of hospital – the medics are battling to find ways to make you well.

Better to never get sick in the first place. By washing your hands. By avoiding the contamination loop and keeping your workplace sterile.

Enough is enough – and most of us are sick of coming down with bugs

Originally posted 2015-10-19 15:35:34.