All transmittable illnesses and infections are linked to the spread of pathogens, commonly called bugs. These bugs include viruses, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic organisms that enter the body. Often, humans will not experience the symptomatic responses to a pathogen for quite sometime after they are infected. This is because the protozoa may take time to multiply enough to trigger the host’s immune system. What’s dangerous about this is that the infected person could unknowingly spread that disease at home, at work or in public during this time. For adults, the place we are most likely to contract a disease is at work. Here are five of the top ways in which diseases are spread in the workplace:
Contaminated objects and food – Like anyone else, someone carrying a pathogen will touch stuff, a lot of stuff. Be mindful of all of the surfaces you yourself come into contact with on a daily basis. For example, many offices have kitchens. Kitchens in an office building are not your typical home kitchens that in that many more people will touching any and all of the surfaces. Contaminated food is one of the easiest ways to ensure the transmission of pathogens, so wash your hands and encourage coworkers to do the same.
Contact with body fluids – Saliva, faeces, urine and blood can all carry a pathogen to another person through cuts, abrasions and other mucus membranes. For the work environment, the mouth and eyes are two mucus membranes of concern. The next time you scratch your eyes in a fit of exhaustion at your desk, consider what pathogens you may be giving to yourself.
Lack of personal hygiene at the office – When it comes to hygiene and disease prevention, hand washing, bandages for wounds, gloves and using your own personal items are key. At the office, the most commonly broken rule is hand washing. After visiting the restroom, thoroughly wash your hands with warm water for atleast 15-20 seconds each time, especially before preparing food. Be sure to dry hands thoroughly as well. If you notice a cut, an abrasion, or some other form of open skin, be sure to use proper bandaging. Don’t share towels or any other personal items with coworkers. And finally, though it may seem heavy duty, consider wearing gloves during your daily commute, especially if you use public transit.
Keep and open dialogue – Information is key to fighting any pathogen. Even the most embarrassing ones such as head-lice must be discussed. This will allow your organization to inform everyone, helping them prepare to take the proper measures for prevention. If a coworker is confirmed to have gone to work with a case of head lice, seek treatment as soon as possible, and consider getting a lice removal service.
Cleanliness in the workplace – Keep communal spaces sanitary is just as important as personal hygiene. Be sure to have all surfaces including floors, bathrooms and other surfaces cleaned regularly. Wash walls and ceilings on occasion and thoroughly clean the washing tools themselves, as contaminants can often build up on them over time. Be sure to also take the proper precautions when using disinfectants and other chemicals, such as wearing gloves and goggles.