Employers failing to keep workplace toilets and washrooms properly maintained could mean bringing more than just germs into the work environment. Bacteria found in the common workplace rest room can cause a number of illnesses for employees, thus bringing a plague of absenteeism and lost productivity on the workplace.
Here we discuss some disease-causing pathogens found in most workplace washrooms, and what employers can do to combat these bacteria in an enviro-friendly manner to provide a safer work environment for their employees.
Although studies have shown it is unlikely that sexually transmitted diseases can be contracted through contact with infected toilet seats (since the bacteria and viruses that cause many STDs cannot survive outside the body for very long) there have been reported instances where it has been the case. Given the right conditions, such as a busy and unhygienic washroom, it is possible that STDs such as hepatitis, pubic lice or herpes can be contracted from the toilet seat. Waterless urinals are among some of the facilities employers can install to combat this problem, and they’re also better for the environment – a win-win situation.
E-coli and Salmonella
Found in urine and faeces, many strains of e-coli and salmonella can be poisonous if ingested. When the toilet is flushed particles of faeces and urine become airborne when droplets of toilet water emanate from the toilet (similar to a sneeze effect), and settle on the toilet seat, stall walls and door handles. If left to fester, these bacteria can easily make their way, through hand contact, to workplace kitchens and employees’ lunches, where it could cause drastic food poisoning symptoms such as cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, fevers and dehydration. Bad cases have even been known to be fatal. Installing non-toxic WC sanitisers in toilets can help to rid toilets of infection after each flush, and neutralise the bacteria present in the droplets, while being kind to the environment.
Another bacteria found in workplace washrooms that can cause food poisoning-like symptoms is staphylococcus. Found on human skin, orifices or infected cuts, staphylococcus can be transmitted through contact with infected toilet seats and other washroom surfaces. Biodegradable seat covers and toilet seat wipe dispensers from companies such as Envirocare Systems can help employees to sanitise the toilet before and after use, eliminating the chance of infection.
Streptococcus is a common bacteria found in almost all public toilets, which can cause the nasty throat infection referred to as ‘strep throat’. It has also been known to cause meningitis. Streptococcus can exist on surfaces for days, and can easily be transmitted from toilet seats, stall doors, faucets and surfaces to keyboards, phone handsets and desks on unwashed hands. By installing environmentally friendly washroom solutions such as anti-bacterial liquid soap dispensers, automatic hand dryers and hand sanitiser dispensers employers can reduce the risk of streptococcus spreading throughout the office. For their part, employees can remember to always use these amenities.