Desktop lunchers’ keyboards breed more bacteria than a toilet seat

Computer users who habitually eat lunch at their desks are being warned that their keyboards could harbour more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat.

Liverpool-based workplace health organisation Health@Work says the average office keyboard can play host to a range of illness-inducing bacteria, such as E. Coli and Staphylococcus Aureus. Both of these, when present in sufficient quantities, can cause a number of problems, including nausea and vomiting, impetigo, and even kidney failure.

Computer keyboards can be a major health risk. In fact, it is such an issue now that companies are developing dishwasher-safe, antibacterial keyboards to combat the problem. These are a great idea but they are primarily used in the health sector so may not be available to all employees, which is why care should be taken to ensure desktops are clean.

One way to avoid the problem is to encourage employees to give their keyboards a spring clean. Firstly, shake out dust and crumbs, then wipe down with a soft, lightly dampened, lint-free cloth. Follow this with a wipe-down with an alcoholic wipe.

Staff should also be encouraged not to eat at their desks and to use the office canteen or staff room, if available, or eat out, where possible. The problem is compounded by poor hygiene, so reminders in office bathrooms about the importance of washing your hands after a visit to the loo, are also advisable.

Bosses ‘need to encourage staff away from desks’

Managers need to ensure employees are spending their lunchtime away from the desk in order to be more productive and healthier, it is claimed.

Dr Frankie Phillips, a dietician with the British Dietetic Association, says bosses should make sure their staff get 20 to 30 minutes away from the desk each day in order to improve their health.

She states the move will aid businesses as those who spend some time away from their work each day are more productive.

‘[There should be] a work policy that you have to be away from your desk for health and safety reasons for 20 to 30 minutes at lunch time,’ Phillips says.

She adds there is a financial and economical benefit for managers who encourage the practice.

The expert states spending long periods of time at the desk is not good for a person’s mobility, advising all employees to stretch throughout the day.

Research from ActionAid found women are more likely to eat at their desks than men, while males pack their own lunch more often.

See also: Sedentary staff embarrassed to exercise

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