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Offices Rife With Bacteria

A recent study from Kimberly Clark Professional, deemed one of the most comprehensive studies into germ hot-spots in the workplace has found that places where workers eat and prepare their lunch are the grimiest!

The study, named The Healthy Workplace Project, was carried out by hygienists at Kimberly Clark,  and involved collecting 5,000 swabs from offices with more than 3,000 employees; which included call centres, law firms, healthcare companies and manufacturers.

The Healthy Workplace Project was carried out in consultation with Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Arizona, and found that the following office surfaces that were tested had high levels of contamination (300 ATP):

  • 75 percent of break room sink tap handles
  • 48 percent of microwave door handles
  • 27 percent of keyboards
  • 26 percent of refrigerator door handles
  • 23 percent of water cooler buttons
  • 21 percent of vending machine buttons


These high levels of contamination were measured by counts of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which shows up in surfaces coated with organic residue, including mould cells.

Alongside these places of contamination, over 50% of all computer mice and desk phones were found with ATP Levels of over 100, indicating increased awareness of hand and surface hygiene is still required when it comes to office cleaning.

What to do?

The study clearly highlights that office workers are potentially being exposed to dangerous bacteria on a daily basis throughout the office. Whilst employees are aware about germs in places like the toilets, many are less conscious around communal areas like kitchens and lunch areas.

It goes without saying just how important it is to take on a good contract cleaning company, who will ensure that the workplace is disinfected and cleaned thoroughly daily, however responsibility must also be shared with the employers and employees.

If employers provide their workers with the knowledge and means of germ reduction, hygiene can be vastly improved.
Hand sanitisers and wipes should be made available, and an education of the basics of hygiene.

Richard Millard Platform Leader of  The Healthy Workplace Project at Kimberly Clark Professional said of the study “This study demonstrates that contamination is all over the workplace and has the potential to reach people where they eat and prepare food, as well as elsewhere..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 per cent.”

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