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Updated 07 February 2014

Germs co-workers bring from home

It's not just your colleagues' dirty cups in the kitchen or their filthy desks that pose a germ risk to you.They could be bringing serious germs with them from home.

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It's not just your colleagues' dirty cups in the kitchen or their filthy desks that pose a germ risk to you.They could also be bringing serious germs from home, depending on their hygiene practices.

Companies place a tremendous emphasis on good hygiene practices at work in order to help reduce the risk of spreading infection among colleagues.

"That’s well and good", says Rika van Rooyen, Sales Director at Bidvest Steiner, "but employees need to acknowledge that the hygiene practices they follow at home have an impact on the workplace too".

“Sometimes the source of possible infection is to be found in the workplace. Salmonella in canteen kitchens is a good example. However, employees themselves can be inadvertently responsible for carrying infection from the home environment to the office,” she says.

“We need to educate ourselves in order to close the loop and reduce the risk of spreading infection from the home environment to the work environment.”

Employees are likely to be exposed to infectious diseases by their children or the children of family and friends. Very often, contact may be inadvertent, but when you are aware that you have come into contact with a child that is ill, then follow the same basic precautions you would follow at work—avoid physical contact and don’t put your hands near your face. As soon as possible, wash thoroughly and change your clothes if at all possible. Viruses like the H1NI virus can remain active on inanimate surfaces for surprisingly long periods of time.

Some childhood diseases can be much more severe in adults than they are in children, so it is worth being careful. Mumps, for example, can make adult men sterile, while German measles can cause foetal abnormalities, so it’s important that pregnant women are not exposed to the virus.

Another potential risk area is public transport, which is notorious for spreading germs. Again, prevention is better than cure, so try to avoid sitting near anybody who is obviously ill and minimise your physical contact with surfaces that are frequently touched, such as handles.

“It’s a good practice to wash your hands thoroughly as your first action on arriving at work,” advises Van Rooyen. “Hands are major transmitters of infection, so that’s an effective way of ensuring that you don’t bring disease from the outside world into the work environment.

“The key is to be aware that you are the bridge between the two worlds of home and work!” concluded Ms Van Rooyen.

 

More on preventing flu

(Press release from Bidvest Steiner)

 

 
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