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Giving Germs the Elbow

26 August 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

Two in five office workers have used another part of their body to exit the toilets at work to avoid getting germs from colleagues on their hands.

The findings are to be found in a survey commissioned by Kimberly-Clark Professional.

It examined 303 office workers across England and revealed that most people who use another body part to open the toilet door at work used their elbows (57%), while using a single finger or a foot (both 29%) were equally the second most used methods. Other respondents admitted using their bottoms, shoulders and knees – suggesting there is a hidden workforce of contortionists in Britain’s offices.

The results reflect the fact that many office workers suspect their colleagues do not wash their hands after using the toilet. In total, 56% of respondents said they worried this was the case and 72% believed that if their colleagues did not wash their hands routinely at work, it could cause them harm. In addition, when asked where they thought germs were most likely to lurk in the workplace, 78% cited the office toilets with 69% mentioning toilet door handles.

Kimberly-Clark Professional recommends that the careful positioning of hygiene products in the office and washroom will encourage people to use the products to stay healthy while at work. There are a number of germ hotspots throughout the office, e.g. break out areas, meeting rooms, reception areas and entrances that can be a breeding ground for germs. 

A clean, hygienic washroom with fully stocked dispensers is a minimum expectation from employees, who believe their office washroom facility says how much their company values them. In fact, research suggests that 73% of people in the business community believe a bad toilet environment indicates poor overall management.

“Our research shows the presence of germs in the workplace is a significant concern for office workers and that many go to great lengths to avoid getting harmful bacteria on their hands,” explained Suzanne Halley, Segment Marketing Manager, Kimberly-Clark Professional. “Fortunately there are some straightforward steps companies can take to create an environment in which people will be focusing on business rather than the risk of catching illnesses. Raising awareness about hygiene in the workplace is critical and we can help support this by encouraging employees to wash and dry their hands regularly and keep their workspace clean.”

Picture:   Research carried out by Kimberly-Clark shows that many people believe that hygiene standards in the workplace falls short.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 26 August 2015


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