How gross is your work desk?

February 27, 2017 | by Nina Lundberg, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Frequent desk-lunch eaters, here’s an important heads-up: You may have a few unwanted ingredients in your midday meal.

Assorted cold or flu-causing viruses, bacteria, maybe even E. coli may creep into your food.

A 2012 study of germs in the workplace by University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba and Kimberly-Clark Professional found high levels of illness-causing germ contamination on most break room sink faucet handles, nearly half the break room microwave door handles and 27 percent of office keyboards.

Refrigerator door handles, water fountain buttons and vending machine buttons were germy, too, the study reported.

Workers who grab their lunch from the break room fridge, warm it in the microwave, and then bring it back to their desks to eat likely bring some of those germs along to live on their desktops, phones and computer mice (maybe even on their sandwiches).

It’s easy to think of your workspace as a kind of personal sanctuary. If you work in an office with other people, however, you better believe there are plenty of germs making their way to your pencil cup.

Keep your desk clean and protect your health with these tips for a germ-free office space:

  • If you must eat at your desk, Prevention suggests placing your lunch on a paper towel or napkin while you eat, as well as cleaning your work area before and after a meal.
  • Wash your hands before eating. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Clean your keyboard weekly.
  • Don’t do actual work while you desk-dine—you’ll contaminate the surfaces of your workspace as well as the food you’re eating.
  • U.S. News recommends regularly wiping down germ hotspots with disposable disinfectant wipes.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes – and stay home if you’re sick!

Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, so remember to keep your hands off of those areas.

You’ll boost your immune system by getting enough sleep at night. You’ll also have a better chance of avoiding illness if you stay away from sick people.

Instead of working while eating lunch at your desk, give yourself a real lunch break! Take your lunch outside or head to a break room with a coworker. It’ll clear your mind and help keep your desk a little cleaner.

If you end up catching a cold and your doctor’s office is booked solid or it’s after-hours, Immediate Care Centers or Walk-In Clinics can provide the care you need, quick.

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