by Julie Finch-Scally
I am always fascinated when I watch staff cleaning around their desks in an office, and especially counters and food areas in stores and restaurants. Everyone knows about hygiene, and it is most noticeable in the food areas where no end of trouble is taken to ensure all surfaces are scrubbed and cleaned. But I cannot say office staff have the same degree of precision when it comes to a desk or children play areas.
For instance: over the past couple of days I have had to go into a reception area of a doctor’s surgery and a shop front office of a travel agent. In the surgery there are notices everywhere about coughs and cold and protecting others, where as in the travel agents there were obvious areas that had been missed when the cleaning cloth had been used.
Because sick people enter doctor’s surgeries germs and bacteria are prevalent and the staff work hard at keeping the spread of any disease down to a minimum. But, having seen all the sick children playing with the toys in that section, I wonder how often, if ever, those toys are wiped over with an antiseptic wipe to remove the germ that each user leaves behind. Having had my own child become sick from catching a disease from toys played by another sick child, I am very aware of this problem. Providing toys and books to keep children amused while waiting to see the doctor is a great idea, but maybe consideration should be given as to regularly rotating and cleaning the toys so germs are not easily spread to another child.
As for the office? Surely a wipe over with the duster should remove any problems? Once again I am not so sure this would be the case. In the travel agent I visited there was a clump of hair caught in the rear of the computer stand. Quite obvious from where I sat as a customer, but not from where the travel agent was sitting. Also as I sat down I noticed a sticky mark along the front of the desk top. This could be easily seen by the travel agent but I would say it had been there longer than a couple of hours.
I guess it boils down to putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Doctors and receptionists don’t play with the toys. In fact I bet very few of them would know what toys or books they have on the premises. Maybe if my child had not fallen sick after playing with toys in a hospital I wouldn’t be aware of the possibilities of contagion from toys, but it is a problem and hospitals and doctor’s surgeries should be concerned.
Shop front offices which are frequented by customers should have the desk tops wiped over with a disinfectant at least twice aday. Every time a customer sits down at that desk they place their hands on the top. This means when the desk is cleaned the staff member should come around to the customer side. This way any infected area will be properly cleaned.
Hygiene and thorough cleaning is important, but not only in shops and restaurants where there is food. Germs and bacteria can be left on any surface. Being aware of this, and taking precautions by cleaning a surface which is touched by a visitor to that building; will ensure a healthier society.