When working in an office environment, it is often easy to contract a virus from nearby co-workers. Why? Because without effective office cleaning, bacteria and viruses can survive on indoor work surfaces for weeks or even months.
Non-porous versus porous surfaces
Viruses and bacteria survive for longer on non-porous (water resistant) surfaces, compared to porous surfaces, such as clothes and tissues. Non-porous surfaces include office furniture, and fixtures made of leather, glass, stainless steel, metal and plastic, which is why office cleaning is so important.
An example of the variances in bacteria survival is highlighted by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Respiratory syncytial virus, which is similar to a cold, can survive on cloth and paper for up to 45 minutes, and on the skin for up to 20 minutes. However, it can survive on countertops for up to six hours.
The DNA behind bacteria’s survival
A Monash University study conducted last year also revealed that bacteria actually change DNA in order to survive. The study showed that dehydrated bacteria – the kind found on indoor surfaces – changed its form from B-DNA to A-DNA then back again to continue living.
Associate Professor Bayden Wood said that the study helped with understanding how dormant bacteria on surfaces can become active and reproduce in the human body. Therefore, surface bacteria can still be infectious in the workplace if not removed through an efficient office cleaning service.
Sick? Stay home!
If you are sick, look after yourself and your co-workers by staying home. According to the data from the NHS, bacteria from a flu virus can survive on indoor surfaces for up to 24 hours, while a common cold virus can remain on a non-porous surface for several days.
But the bacteria with the most staying power? Bacteria called Clostridium difficile, which causes stomach bugs, can survive on non-porous surfaces for up to five months. Another stomach bug, norovirus, can remain on hard surfaces for weeks. If someone contracts the virus in the workplace and is physically sick, the virus will distribute itself through the air in small droplets. These droplets will affix themselves to surfaces, causing the virus to spread.
Call in the bacteria busters
It is inevitable that bacteria and viruses will appear in a workplace, and as having staff frequently away on sick leave can impact a business financially, it’s a risk that must be managed. The key to minimising the problem is through a regular office cleaning service. Professional cleaners have the right tools to kill bacteria on indoor surfaces to minimise the risk of germs spreading. Educating your workers about hygiene risks, and positioning signs in high risk areas like bathrooms and kitchens, can also help by raising awareness.