Does The Office Kitchen Facilitate Germ Spreading?

Businesses need to rethink their office layout and décor to adjust to a post-pandemic world. For business owners, the move toward a digital workplace has been crucial in surviving covid-19 challenges. However, as vaccines are rolled out, small companies are likely to reopen their doors to in-house employees. 

As we move forward, it’s essential to consider potential health risks in the workplace. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has taught an important lesson about transmissions. We need to introduce further health-focused habits and processes to keep people safe. Frequent handwashing and sanitizing processes are a no-brainer. Yet, there’s more small businesses can do to stop germs from spreading. Have you ever considered the disease risks in the office kitchen? 

Consider partitions and a new layout

Typically, the office kitchen is an open plan layout that is designed for social interactions, relaxation, and lunches. As one of the primary breaking areas in the office, it would be unthinkable to deprive employees of a kitchen. However, businesses need to arrange the area to reduce the risks of infections. Creating a new layout that ensures tables are separated and divides the prepping area from the dining corner can make a huge difference. 

Businesses can also consider a flexible approach to breaks during the day. Something as simple as extended lunch breaks, for instance, can help reduce simultaneous kitchen visits! 

Manage your water flow

While COVID-19 infections can occur within airborne exposure, there are other viral and bacterial risks within the kitchen. Stagnant water is one of the most commonly overseen hazards in the kitchen. However, it can contribute to the spread of bacteria and the growth of mold spores, which puts vulnerable individuals at risk. 

Where can you find stagnant water in your kitchen? It is something that is often associated with faulty appliances. For instance, if the office dishwasher fails to evacuate water properly, it can remain at the bottom of the unit. Another common issue happens with ice making fridges that develop a level sensor fault, as this can keep a low level of water into the system. A sensor fault will prevent the formation of ice, which, in turn, accelerates the formation of mold. 

Replace mugs or introduce strict cleaning rules

Who doesn’t enjoy a fresh cup of coffee or tea in the middle of a tough project? However, a recent study conducted at the University of Arizona has found that mugs from the office kitchen are not always safe to use. A whopping 90% of mugs carry dangerous germs, while 20% of them have fecal matter on them. Indeed, employees transmit those unpleasant germs as they hold and wash mugs in the communal office kitchen. 

There could be different sources of risk for mugs. Firstly, it is fair to say that until the international health crisis, not everyone appreciated the importance of washing hands properly. It’s hard to predict whether handwashing habits will remain after the pandemic. 

Additionally, sponges can accumulate bacteria and germs if they are not cleaned or replaced regularly. Therefore, businesses need to consider solutions to encourage employees to change their mugs after each drink and maintain strict hygiene rules. 

In conclusion, the office kitchen is a necessary breaking area in the workplace. Yet, while it proactively supports mental health and positive social habits, the kitchen also contributes to the presence of viruses and harmful bacteria. In order to maintain the kitchen area, businesses have to run strict health risk assessments to tackle strategic hazards. 

Unsplash – CC0 License 

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