Germs are everywhere. They are in the air we breathe, on the food we eat and on the utilities and utensils we use. Most germs are not harmful but other types can cause illnesses ranging from the cold and flu to food poisoning and gastroenteritis.

The most common types of harmful germs, also known as pathogens, are:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Parasites

In the workplace, we commonly become ill by breathing in airborne pathogens or through contact with contaminated surfaces. The most germ infected surfaces in the work place include elevator buttons, telephones, door handles and computer keyboards. Most surfaces in your work place can pass a sick colleague’s germs to you and vice versa.

There are things you can do to help reduce the transfer of harmful germs. Your first step should be to ensure you get the flu vaccine each season.  Vaccination is relatively inexpensive. Many of the large pharmacy offer vaccinations in-store.  Wash you hands well and often. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser with you and use it to clean your hands throughout the day.  Avoid eating at your desk; your computer keyboard can host up to 200 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Use disinfectant wipes to wipe down your desk, keyboard, mouse and phone. If you are sick, you can protect your colleagues by staying at home, if possible. If you must come to work, avoid coming into close contact with colleagues and remember to cover your mouth and nose with tissue whenever you cough or sneeze.