Career Woman

5 Ways your office could be making you sick


There are plenty of work environments more dangerous than an office, but that doesn’t mean your desk job isn’t packed with health hazards. Avoiding the biggest risk to your health (which is of course stress), here are some of the main physical dangers to look out for. Whether you’re the manager or an employee, tackling these dangers could protect the health of both you and your colleagues.

1. Crummy keyboards

Computer keyboards are often dirtier than a toilet, in some cases carrying five times the amount of bacteria. Studies have found that only one in ten of us never clean our keyboards, whilst one in five of us never clean our mouse. Talking of mice – studies have also found that eating at your keyboard could be attracting rodents during the night. Not only could mice have ran over your keyboard whilst out of the office, they could be laying droppings which fall between the keys as overnight surveillance of one office found. Sharing keyboards is meanwhile believed to be a major cause of spreading illness throughout the office.

2. Unclean mugs

Your office mug could be a breeding ground for bug-carrying bacteria too. A study from the University of Arizona found that 90% of office mugs carried some form of nasty bacteria. If that wasn’t enough to make you spit out your coffee, 20% of these mugs tested positive for fecal bacteria. Ensuring that mugs are thoroughly washed and sterilised could protect you and your colleagues from getting sick as often.

3. Mould

Mould on office walls is thought to be causing widespread occupational asthma. It’s also been linked to a number of other respiratory illnesses, the most serious being Legionnaires most commonly caused by mould build-ups in office air con. Cleaning mould off the walls as soon as it appears and regularly cleaning air conditioning units can prevent illness from spreading. A dehumidifier and regular ventilation from windows meanwhile may be able to stop mould developing in the first place.  In situations where the problem escalates, you might also consider bringing in a commercial mold removal service. These removal companies get to the root of the issue by figuring out what is causing the mould to form in the first place. The service will provide you with a mould inspection, a full laboratory analysis, and a written plan of action, so that you can be certain that you have taken all the necessary steps. If you are worried about the mould being in your HVAC system, foundation, drywall, or furnishings, this is the way to go.

4. Toxic building materials

Some constructive materials in old buildings have proven toxic and since been banned such as asbestos and lead. Flakes of these materials can be ingested and cause lead poisoning or mesothelioma (a cancer caused by asbestos exposure). These were commonly used in offices and many workplaces may still contain such materials in the walls or pipes. It’s worth getting someone in to remove such materials immediately the moment they are spotted. If such materials in a workplace have already caused you harm, you could even be entitled to hire a premises liability attorney to get compensated. This could help to pay some money towards treatment whilst ensuring that justice is received for your unsafe working conditions.

5. Your desk

Our sedentary office lifestyles can cause a myriad of ailments to deliver over time from back problems to diabetes to even heart disease. The latter two are particularly the case for those that eat at their desk. Getting up throughout the day to walk around can have marvellous effects on combating these problems. It’s incredibly important to get a good chair for your desk to support your body. You could even take the extreme measure of getting yourself a stand up desk and remove these health threats altogether.

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