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Proper Work Desk Ergonomics to Protect Against COVID-19

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Most office desks are 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat. Even so, one in five office workers eats at their desk without first cleaning it.
  • Proper setup of your work area, such as your computer and lighting, can help protect you from work-releated injuries.
  • Before starting work, use disinfecting products to clean your desk surface, keyboard, mouse, and office phone. Disinfect other office equipment that is used frequently, such as photocopier buttons and control panels, and door handles.

 

Research shows that the average worker comes into contact with more than 10 million disease-causing bacteria hidden in their desk areas, with the average keyboard harboring about 7,500 bacteria. About 70-80% of these are of human origin, coming mostly from the skin, mouth, and intestines. Even after cleaning your desk, bacteria and germs can return within just a few days. In addition to unhygienic desks, other factors such as insufficient lighting, incorrect computer placement, and chairs that are either too high or too low can all have an effect on your health. Because of this, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, work desk cleanliness and ergonomics are especially important for everyone.

How to Properly Set Up Your Desk

  • Your work area should be well-lit. The lamp you select for your desk should be adjustable so you can easily change its placement and direction. Choose softer lighting that is not too harsh on your eyes.
  • For proper computer placement, the top of the computer monitor should be at eye level. The distance between the monitor and the user’s eyes should be 0.40-0.50 meters, with the keyboard and mouse slightly lower than the monitor so as to avoid either lifting your shoulders or hunching your back while typing.
  • Reduce monitor glare so that it is comfortable for your eyes. This can help prevent macular degeneration. In cases where glare is unavoidable, you can wear anti-glare glasses with UV protection or apply a film to your computer screen to protect your eyes from harmful UV400/UVA1 rays and direct light exposure. You should also rest your eyes for about 5 minutes every 2 hours.
  • Your chair should be suitable for the desk you are sitting at. While working, you should be sitting fully in the chairs with your hips and back as close to the back of the chair as possible. Adjust your chair so that it is the right height for your desk and so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are in line with your hips. If your feet dangle at this level, you may need a footrest or shoes that support your feet in their natural position.

The Cleanliness of Your Desk is More Important Than You Think

Believe it or not, most office desks are 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat. Still, one in five office workers eat at their desks without cleaning them first. Cleaning your desk regularly, therefore, is incredibly important. Here are some tips to help you do so:

  • Remove all equipment and articles from your desk. Dust and wipe the table with a dry cloth. Next, use a damp cloth with some cleaning liquid on it to wipe clean every corner, nook and cranny of your desk. Wait until the desk is completely dry before returning all the items to their places once again.
  • Sort and organize items by category, such as documents, books, stationery, electrical appliances, etc.
  • Garbage, old books or papers, and unnecessary items such as figurines which collect dust should be separated and discarded.
  • Clean your computer with a cleaning solution made especially for this purpose. Make sure to disconnect all wires and turn off the machine before cleaning. To clean your keyboard, turn the keyboard over and gently shake it to get rid of any dirt stuck in cracks or between keys; then use a cotton ball or cotton bud, lightly dampened with the cleaning solution, to wipe clean each individual key, including the sides of the keys and spaces around them.
  • Keep your own personal glass for water or cup for coffee. Wash and rinse it thoroughly after each use and place it upside down to dry on a clean surface. This is important because more than 90% of glasses of water have accumulated germs and 20% are contaminated with bacteria that causes digestive disorders.
  • Pens and pencils should also be cleaned by wiping them down with alcohol or a cloth dampened with a cleaning solution. These items are handled with the same hands and fingers that are used to hold many other items throughout the day and, therefore, house a large amount of bacteria and germs.
  • Tables, chairs and other equipment should be cleaned regularly throughout the year.

How to Kill Germs Effectively to Ensure Safety

Cleaning Your Desk and Workspace

Before starting work at your desk, use disinfecting products to clean your table surface, keyboard, mouse, and office phone. You should also clean other office equipment, such as the photocopier buttons and control panels, and frequently used door handles. According to data obtained from the Department of Disease Control, recommended cleaning solutions suitable for disinfecting these surfaces and which can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include:

  1. 70% alcohol—suitable for metal surfaces.
  2. Laundry detergent in 70°C water—suitable for fabrics.
  3. One part bleach (6% sodium hypochlorite) to 99 parts water—suitable for surfaces contaminated by mucus, nasal secretions, or saliva droplets. Doors and windows should be opened for ventilation whenever using antiseptic or bleach solutions.

In order to ensure that all surfaces have been properly and thoroughly cleaned, it is recommended that disinfecting solutions remain on surfaces for 3-5 minutes before being wiped dry with a clean cloth.

Cleaning Mobile Devices

Isopropyl alcohol is recommended as a cleaning and disinfecting alcohol. Using 70% isopropyl alcohol on a clean cloth or cotton pad, gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your phone or other mobile device, including cases, screen protectors, etc. Avoid wiping the screen itself, as modern phone models have a scratch-resistant coating which, when exposed to alcohol, can wear away, causing your phone to be more prone to scratches.

To clean your phone, start by turning off the device and wipe it clean in one direction without rubbing in circles. Next, use a soft cloth or tissue to wipe it dry. When cleaning phones or mobile devices of any kind, do not use antiseptic solutions containing solvent, ammonia, or abrasives. Glass cleaner and other household cleaners should not be used. Mobile phones should be cleaned regularly in order to reduce the presence of germs.

Wash Your Hands Regularly

During these times, while the virus continues to spread, it’s important to adjust and change our behaviors by learning to wash our hands much more frequently than normal, using soap or hand-sanitizing gels containing 70% (or higher) alcohol. Hand washing is one way to help kill viruses and reduce the risk of infection. Hands should be washed immediately after touching any surfaces, especially before eating or placing hands anywhere near your face or mouth. If you have used your hand to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands immediately. Also, don’t just wash your hands, but wash them correctly. This means allowing the water to flow over both hands, and then lathering them with soap all over the palm, back of the hand, wrist, in-between fingers, and around the fingernails. This should take approximately 20 seconds. Next, rinse thoroughly with water and then dry your hands with a clean cloth or tissues.

Cleaning only removes viruses and bacteria from surfaces, but proper disinfection eliminates germs altogether. Following the above advice can help keep you safe from the virus


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