Health warning over dirty desks

Dirty office desks are harbouring germs which can quickly spread among staff as firms are braced for an outbreak of sickness absence through colds and flu, a new report has said.

A study of desks by office supplies firm Viking in hundreds of offices across the country found poor levels of hygiene.

Germs were found in almost two-thirds of computer keyboards, while some even had mould growing underneath.

Phones and desks also had germs, Viking found after analysing swabs sent in by hundreds of office workers.

Computer staff, lawyers and accountants were said to be the most unhygienic office workers in the country, while social workers were more likely to have mouldy food on their desks.

Just over half of office workers were not aware that bacteria could be lurking on their keyboards, phones and screens.

Viking said a "staggering" two-thirds of office workers admitted to eating lunch at their desks and not cleaning their workstation afterwards.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, a chartered environmental health practitioner, said: "This research has shown that there are some very unhygienic desks right now in the UK, which is very worrying as those who work in open-plan offices tend to start coming down with illnesses this time of year.

"Keeping equipment such as keyboards, phones and desks as germ- free as possible is even more important during the cold and flu season."