A sick employee is bad news for business. He or she misses work days, things fall through the crack, and there’s always the risk that everyone else in the office will get sick from their germs. Some illnesses, like the dreaded winter cold, sometimes can’t be avoided even with the best preventive measures in place. But, what happens when the shared office kitchen is the source of what is making employees sick?
Employees spend lots of time in the kitchen and with so many people using one small space, the risk of food poisoning and foodborne illness increases. Often, instead of a clean space, the kitchen is teeming with dirty dishes, crusty counters, unwiped spills and spoiled food. Even when the kitchen appears clean in actuality dangerous bacteria can be lurking unseen if certain hygiene standards are not maintained.
Foodborne bacterial infections affect millions of Americans every year, according to Ankin Law Office LLC which deals with personal injury cases. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea and the severity can range from feeling uncomfortable to death in severe cases.
Illnesses stemming from the kitchen can be avoided if certain best practices are implemented. Here are some to start with:
An office fridge can easily turn into a communal dumpster in which no one takes responsibility for its cleanliness. A fridge should be regularly cleaned with disinfectant solution, the temperature should be kept at 40 degrees fahrenheit or lower, and all food should be thrown out as soon as it reaches its expiration date.
The Birthday Cake
While celebrating a coworker’s birthday with a cake is a nice gesture. the cake, in the best of scenarios is being handled by someone’s probably ungloved hands. At worst, it’s the target of your colleague’s birthday-wish-candle-blow-out. Add into that the likelihood that the cake will sit out on a counter, the frosting being swiped at by colleagues’ fingers when they think no one else is looking. It’s probably better to say “thanks, but no thanks.”
The Grimy Dishcloths
If your office has in use sad looking dishcloths that have seen better days, they may be a vile source of dangerous bacteria. An office that lacks a dedicated person whose job it is is to regularly wash and sterilize those dish towels is better off using disposable paper towels. Worried about the environmental cost? Opt for recycled paper towels and use them sparingly.
The Dirty Dishes
When people are sharing the same utensils and plates, it is not only basic decency to keep everything clean, it is also imperative to everyone’s health. A dishwasher is the ideal way to sanitize dishes and cutlery but when this method is not an option go for handwashing using hot soapy water. Make it a rule that everyone cleans up after themselves. If someone is caught violating the policy there should be agreed upon consequences.
Since bacteria thrive in an office kitchen, cleanliness is a key factor in preventing food poisoning and keeping employees healthy and on the job.