|An Investment In Your Employees, Your Company, Your Future
Tips: Keep the Workplace Germ-Free
Less than half of Americans clean up before eating lunch at their desks, a stark reminder that common sense hygiene habits are often lacking in the workplace, according to The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA).
The latest National Cleaning Survey from SDA reports that 46 percent of respondents claim they do not clean their desks or workspaces before eating lunch there. Women apparently take greater precautions than men: the survey found 57 percent of women say they clean their desk before eating -- while 57 percent of men surveyed say they don't.
With the shortage of flu vaccines this year, hands-on at-work hygiene practices are more important than ever, according to Brian Sansoni, SDA Vice President of Communication.
"Desks, phones, door knobs, conference tables, fax machines and other common workplace areas can be breeding grounds for bacteria-spreading germs," said Sansoni. "Of course, germs are spread hand-to-hand, but those hands touch a variety of surfaces we come in contact with every day.
"Common sense hand hygiene, surface cleaning and disinfection practices are valuable tools to help keep the workplace healthy -- especially in the midst of cold and flu season. We don't want to see poor hygiene habits lead to an absentee workforce."
Cold and Flu Costs
According to a recent Harvard University estimate, the flu's effects on the economy could approach $20 billion this year. And five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2003 study by the University of Michigan Health System said that there are approximately half-a-billion colds in the United States each year -- costing the economy $40 billion.
Hand Hygiene Not Up to Snuff
The CDC says frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. SDA's 2004 Clean Hands Report Card gave Americans a "C" for hand hygiene, based on survey results that found:
43 percent surveyed seldom or never wash their hands after coughing or
Coming Clean at the Office
A 2002 study conducted by University of Arizona researchers found that the workplace does indeed host its share of germs: Phones have up to 25,127 germs per square inch, keyboards 3,295 per square inch and computer mice 1,676 per square inch. Mindful of this fact, SDA offers employers and employees several tips to help keep healthy at work:
Hands-On Tips for Employees:
Hands-On Tips for Employers:
2004 Flu Season Research Findings
The following questions were asked of 1013 American adults (504 men and 509 women). The independent consumer research study was completed in August 2004, on behalf of The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), by International Communications Research (ICR). The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
Do you ever clean or wipe off your office/workplace desk before eating there? Results:
While nearly half of all Americans do not clean the space where they
eat, there is a difference in the habits of men and women. Fifty-seven
percent of men DO NOT clean there desks and 57 percent of women DO report
to clean their desks before eating there.
How often do you wash your hands before eating lunch? Results:
You really should wash your hands before lunch, because many of the surfaces
you touch -- such as keyboards, door handles, and elevator buttons --
can harbor germs that can make you sick.
Approximately how many times do you wash your hands on an average day?
1-2 times (2%)
When asked how often they washed their hands on an average day, there was a notable gender gap in the frequency of keeping clean. Most women who responded washed more than 10 times a day (48%), while the top number for men was 5-6 times a day (29%).
How often do you wash your hands after you cough or sneeze?
43 percent of Americans seldom or never wash their hands after they cough or sneeze.