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What are High Touch Surfaces at work and why is disinfecting required?

The CDC urges employers to frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces in the workplace.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, can you get COVID-19 from touching contaminated surfaces in the workplace? Officially, the jury is still out. Experts say the risk is low but possible, and there’s variable evidence that people have become infected this way.

Still, it’s theoretically possible. We do know the coronavirus can linger on some surfaces for days. One study found that the virus survived for up to 17 days on some surfaces aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which experienced an outbreak of the disease. On nonporous surfaces such as plastic and steel, it can last up to three days.

Be proactive, the CDC urges employers to frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces in the workplace. While it’s important to make sure these surfaces are included in your regular cleaning service, it’s also helpful to encourage employees to use disinfecting products throughout the day. Make sure to read and follow instructions printed on disinfecting supplies. If you are in Portland, Oregon or NOVA contact us and we can help procure the proper supplies & services: 503-432-8302

Here are seven high-touch surfaces in your workplace that need diligent cleaning:

1. Door handles

Door handles in high-traffic areas are one of the most commonly touched surfaces in any workplace. Because they’re used so frequently and by so many different people, they’re one of the biggest disease-spreading culprits in the workplace. In a 2014 study, researchers applied samples of a virus to a facility’s doorknobs and found that within two to four hours, the virus had spread to as many as 60 percent of workers and visitors. Fortunately, the researchers also found that using a combination of disinfecting wipes and hand hygiene curbed the spread by 80 to 99 percent. While the study didn’t specifically involve the coronavirus, the message is still clear: Door handles touch a lot of hands, and they need to be cleaned often.

2. Handrails

Handrails are another commonly overlooked workplace surface that needs to be cleaned regularly. Like door handles, they come in contact with many different hands throughout the day. Unlike door handles, they’re often tucked away in stairwells, out of sight and out of mind. Make sure the handrails in your facility are disinfected as part of your routine cleaning service and, if possible, swab them with disinfecting wipes throughout the day to keep the accumulation of germs to a minimum.

3. Elevator buttons

People across the world are getting creative about pushing elevator buttons. Many have begun using pens or even toothpicks to avoid touching these commonly pressed surfaces. Some facilities have even implemented voice-controlled elevators or, in at least one building in Hefei, China, holographic elevator buttons. If your building still uses old-fashioned physical kind, make sure they get cleaned often.

4. Keyboards

When a British microbiologist swabbed 33 keyboards within a typical office environment, he found that four of the keyboards posed potential health hazards—and one had five times more germs than a toilet seat. Regularly disinfecting the keyboards within your workplace can help keep these nasty germ populations down. Different computer manufacturers have different cleaning guidelines, but it’s generally safe to unplug the keyboard and wipe it down with disinfectant wipes. According to Apple, you can safely clean its products with either 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox disinfectant wipes.

5. Phones

Studies have shown that the typical office phone has the potential to carry up to 25,000 germs per square inch. Whether your employees use landlines or their personal cell phones to conduct business, it’s wise to disinfect them daily to prevent these germs from spreading to other surfaces in the workplace—especially if phones are used by multiple employees. Provide disinfectant wipes so employees can swap their handsets and keypads throughout the day, and encourage them to clean their personal phones too.

6. Workstations

The average desktop harbors more than 20,000 germs per square inch, according to a 2018 study. That’s 400 times more than a toilet seat. Researchers estimate that dirty desks pose a health risk to more than two in three office workers, which is why the World Health Organization recommends regularly disinfecting desks, tables and other work surfaces.

7. Break room surfaces

Since employees commonly use break room surfaces for food preparation, it’s especially important to keep them clean. Countertops, faucet handles, microwave and refrigerator door handles, water fountain buttons and vending machine buttons are all places where germs love to congregate. Establish a regular schedule for disinfecting these surfaces.

Keeping these seven high-touch surfaces clean can eliminate countless germs from your workplace. Work with your facility’s cleaning partner and enlist the help of employees to ensure they get disinfected regularly.

If you are in Portland, Oregon and are looking to outsource your cleaning and sanitizing needs contact us. Our 3D Sanitize Program is helping protect local businesses. Let us help by contacting us today.