Value of Clean – The Cost of Surface Contamination

Improve Your Bottom Line Where You Haven’t Looked Before

If someone comes to work ill, it’s pretty much only a matter of time until several other people become ill as well. People generally only consider airborne contamination, such as coughing and sneezing, as the reason for the spread of disease and often forget that commonly touched surfaces are also significant sources of germ contamination.

A recent study conducted by the University of Arizona discovered that one sick person in the office will result in the contamination of roughly 50% of the office surfaces by lunch, potentially infecting 40%-90% of the other employees. The study also revealed that germs on surfaces spread illness more quickly than sneezing or coughing.1 The items with the highest amounts of contamination are doorknobs, photocopier buttons, elevator buttons and fridge handles.2 In fact, desktop items are more contaminated than the office toilet seat. The toilet seat is actually one of the cleanest items in the office, because it is disinfected regularly, with 49 germ particles per square inch. In contrast, desktops have almost 21,000 germs per square inch, and phones have 25,000 germs per square inch.3

Luckily, the study also concluded that disinfecting procedures reduce the spread of germs by 80%-99%.

Forty-seven percent of office workers wash their hands less than the suggested five times a day, and half of them don’t wash their hands long enough. That is why a comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting program is so important. Some germs can grow and divide every 20 minutes. That means one single bacteria cell can become more than eight million cells in less than 24 hours. Only 10-100 particles of a cold virus are necessary to infect a healthy adult and some surfaces, like door handles, can infect others for up to 3 days.

This is why what cleaners do every day and night is so vital. Good hygiene practice is crucial to public health, especially in office settings. Many janitorial contracts are awarded based on price or time and ignore the cost-savings provided by a slightly more detailed program. Regular disinfection reduces the probability of illness and positively impacts the costs associated with absenteeism and presenteeism. A clean working environment keeps your employees healthy and, in the process, creates higher morale, a reduction in absentee rates, and ultimately increased productivity and revenue.

It’s easy to get so focused on reduced spending that we forget why we clean in the first place, for public health; to prevent the spread of illness and disease. So if you want healthier and more productive employees, a cleaning program that includes regular disinfection is a low-tech, low-cost, high value solution.

To learn more about how cleanliness can improve your bottom line, come back next week for the eighth instalment in our series, “The Value of Clean Series – Customers Prefer Clean”.

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