The year was 2009. The month was April. The news headline?


I remember it so well, because my workplace at the time went into instant pandemic-prevention panic mode. Monthly safety meetings were held, hand washing signs were updated, and H1N1 became a commonly used term among all staff members.  Thankfully, nobody caught it; spring came and went and summer progressed while we all breathed a huge sigh of relief – and went back to our germy ways.

Nearly every employee in the building alternated with sick weeks off the following fall.  The Nursing Manager was hit the worst, coming down with a confirmed case of H1N1 that kept her out of commission for nearly a month. She kept the cough for an entire year, maybe more – in fact, I’ll bet if I called her right now, she’d still have the lingering choke. I lucked out of contracting the viral ninja, but I didn’t come away completely unscathed; mentally, I was focusing so hard on staying healthy that my productivity took a bit of a hit from all of the excessive hand washing and over analyzing where germs could be living. I elected to get the flu shot early that season, and it must have helped because I know H1N1 lived on every copy machine, phone handset, and plastic spoon in the staff kitchen area.  Doorframes, though? I never gave it a single thought, until I came across an article in Woman’s Day that sums up the top places where germs hide at the office.


Germs at your desk {img via}

To prevent spreading infectious diseases like this season’s brutal flu strain, regularly wipe down the following areas with disinfecting wipes that are labeled as 99.9% germ killers:

  1. Computer Mouse and Keyboard – have you turned your keyboard upside down and shook it lately? Hold it over a trashcan before you do.
  2. Top of Desk – disinfect at least once per week, and more often if you eat lunch at your desk
  3. Office door frame – people often stand in doorways, lean against the frame, touch it, and thus plant germs.
  4. Phones, handsets – though staff members typically have access to their own phones, it’s easy to grab someone else’s handset to make – or take – a quick call. Clean it daily.
  5. Books – wipe down covers and wash hands after using, especially if you’re prone to allergies.
  6. Community candy dish – as safe as it seems to grab a piece of individually wrapped candy, try to abstain from it during cold/flu season – spraying down the candy with Lysol on a daily basis is probably not the safest solution.
  7. Copy machine/fax machine – everyone uses it. Everyone swaps germs.
  8. Refrigerator – clean it out on at least a bi-weekly basis, tossing expired and unmarked/unclaimed food; designate someone to handle this task to ensure a safe, (mostly) bacteria-free fridge.
  9. Conference room table – everyone gathers here, as do their germs. Disinfect the table top and edges often.

Here’s to a healthy 2013!

9 Surprising Office Germ Havens“, Woman’s Day

Seasonal Influenza in the Workplace,