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How to Avoid Germs in Your Office

The break room tops the list of hot spots for harmful bacteria in your office, according to a new study.

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If you like to open the bathroom door with your foot to avoid picking up unwanted germs, you should really be doing that with the office microwave.

A new study found that break rooms and kitchens are among the most contaminated rooms in workplaces, with microwave doors and sink handles more likely to be harboring potentially harmful bacteria.

To identify the best places for bacteria and viruses to lurk in your office, researchers collected 5,000 individual swabs from office buildings. These workplaces included law firms, insurance companies, manufacturers, and healthcare companies.

Researchers used the presence of an energy molecule—ATP—as an indicator of how many germs were living silently on a surface. Highly contaminated surfaces increase your risk of picking up harmful bacteria or viruses that can cause colds, flu, and stomach illnesses.

Break room faucet handles and microwave doors topped the list. Keyboards and refrigerator door handles fell in the middle, with vending machine buttons down near the bottom.

To minimize your risk of picking up harmful bacteria or viruses from your coworkers—or the surfaces they touch—follow these simple procedures.

Wash your hands frequently—when you arrive at work, after using the restroom, and before and after eating. Clean surfaces with disposable disinfectant wipes. Use hand sanitizer before and after meetings, in the break room and before leaving your office.

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