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Disinfection Strategies for Workplaces

Reduce germs and minimise employee illness in the workplace

computer and screen cleaning keyboard cleaning BACS telephone wipes


Which office areas harbour the greatest number of germs? And what are the most effective ways to clean and sanitise these locations?

Dirtiest Places

University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba and his team measured germ levels in 7,000 samples collected from four typical US workplaces during an average week. The study counted bacteria on a variety of surfaces to find out which were the most contaminated. In descending order, the most germ-laden spots in the offices were

  1. Telephone
  2. Desktop
  3. Water fountain handle
  4. Microwave door handle
  5. Keyboard

Toilet seats were consistently the least contaminated of the 12 surfaces tested in the study. The average desktop had 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. General cleaners normally attend to common areas such as toilets and kitchens, but they are often instructed not to touch desks.

Preventing Illness

Dr. Gerba also investigated what can be done to prevent the spread of illness-causing microorganisms. The study measured the effectiveness of daily disinfection using an anti-bacterial wipe. Participants in his study were divided into two groups. One group used disinfecting wipes once a day to clean their desks, telephones and computer keyboards. The other group followed their usual routine. Bacteria levels for non-wipe users increased an average of 19-31% throughout a typical workday. In contrast, two days after participants began using disinfecting wipes once a day, bacteria levels decreased by more than 99%.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads through droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze and by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. Depending on the temperature, humidity and nature of the material, current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain contagious on a surface for hours to days. Dr. Gerba’s study shows the importance of practicing good office hygiene. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting shared surfaces and high touch point areas (phones, keyboards, computer mice, desktops, door handles and security card readers) is crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19. However, the Australian Government Department of Health states dust, dirt and residue on a surface can inactivate many disinfectants. Physically wiping away surface contamination first with a detergent is required prior to sanitising with a TGA-listed hospital-grade disinfectant with proven effectiveness against viruses.

3 Things You Can Do

1. Have your office equipment professionally cleaned and disinfected.

BACS Contamination Control can come to your office at a time that suits you and remove germs, fingerprints, food residue, dust, ink and other grime from PCs, monitors, keyboards and telephones. Disinfecting multi-user workstations and shared equipment decreases the spread of illness within your organisation. In addition, office equipment lasts longer and functions more reliably when dust and dirt build-up are removed. Click here for more information on BACS technical cleaning service and to request a quote today.

2. Provide disinfectant wipes for employees to sanitise their own work areas.

To keep desks germ-free between sanitising services, provide your staff with disinfectant wipes so people can clean their own workspaces at least once a day. Particular attention must be paid to areas which come in frequent contact with hands, mouths and noses such as telephones, keyboards and computer mice. Click here to purchase wipes online.

3. Encourage good hygiene in the workplace.

Where possible, avoiding releasing respiratory droplets in the first place. Because it is impossible to tell whether a surface is contaminated or not by simply looking at it, exercise caution when coming in contact with shared surfaces.

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Don’t shake hands with other people.
  • Rethink attending large meetings.


For more information, read the World Health Organisation’s guide to getting your workplace ready for COVID-19.