'Reservoir for germs' | Why HR should prioritise phone hygiene

Why HR should prioritise phone hygiene

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently relaxed lockdown measures even further in England and announced that specific businesses – such as pubs and hairdressers – can reopen from July 4, 2020. This means that more employees will be going back to work, particularly if they are unable to do their job remotely.  

With that in mind, a university professor has warned that smartphone hygiene should be a key consideration for employers when drawing up back-to-work plans.

Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, has warned that all smartphone storage and usage should be considered to ensure health and safety in the workplace.

Speaking to UK Tech News, Dr Clarke called upon all businesses to think seriously about combatting the issue of cleanliness with regards to mobile phone usage, and to prevent the spread of germs.

“Smartphones are a reservoir for germs and have the potential to spread pathogens, such as the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Dr. Clarke.

“We use them constantly, touch them with our hands and put them near our faces. When you cough or sneeze, droplets transfer to your phone – directly, or from your hands if they’ve been used as a shield.

“The hand-washing message has really landed, but the minute you take your phone out of your pocket or bag, your hands are no longer clean. Improving and introducing new hygiene standards for all employees as we begin to return to the workplace is key,” he added.

This warning comes after previous YouGov research found that a large portion of Britons use their phones whilst on the toilet.

The research found that 57% admitted using their phone while on the toilet. Eight per cent admitted that they ‘always’ did it, while 14% said that they did this most times.

To ensure that health and safety is considered, Dr Clarke shared some cautionary advice that can be circulated among teams:

  • Avoid using phones on public transport while commuting – this is an ingrained habit, but a possible major source of contamination and spread.

  • Minimise personal phone use in the workplace – is what you’re about to use your phone for really necessary?

  • Clean your phone and wash your hands before leaving for work and as soon as arriving – think of your phone as an extension of you – if your hands are dirty, so is your phone.

  • Shared workplace phones are particularly risky and need a complete re-think – consider more robust and less breakable phones that can be thoroughly washed in soap and water, cleaned with generous amounts of gel or alcohol wipes and even bleach.

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Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 2:03pm BST
    Those who have read The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy will know this only too well.
    Google the fate of the Golgafrinchans.

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