Mobile phones deliver infection risk in the workplace according to new study

Your smartphone is doing more than keeping you in touch -- it is also the 'smart' way to spread infection in the workplace according to new research.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

The chances are that you have checked your smartphone in the last hour. You might have been waiting for a call, an email, or checking your social media feeds.

No one likes their hygiene being called into question, never mind the hygiene of their mobile phone. But this is exactly what you need to think about before you touch that phone again.

Your secret swiping will not get you into trouble with your boss, but a new study about our smartphone habits does not make pleasant reading if you worry about germs.

New research shows that mobile phones present a substantial infection risk in the workplace. Workplace infection can be spread in a variety of different ways, with the best cleaners in the world unable to catch everything.

Disinfection and decontamination company Sanondaf is warning that over a third of our mobile phones present a 'high risk of spreading infection'.

A survey carried out by the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection found that mobile phones present a 'substantial' infection risk, with evidence of viruses in 38.5 percent of devices. These viruses target humans, and are not software viruses.

The research, undertaken in a French hospital, found that mobile phones and cordless phones used by hospital staff were found to harbor viruses that cause stomach upsets and lung infections.

The survey also showed that a fifth of staff did not clean their hands after handling their phones.

Scientists took swabs from mobile and cordless phones used daily by 114 doctors and nurses at Saint-Etienne University Hospital in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France.

The most widespread contamination was from rotavirus which was discovered on 39 out of 109 phones. This virus can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Respiratory syncytial virus genetic material was found on three phones, and evidence of metapneumovirus was on one of the phones tested.

Both of these viruses are associated with lung infections, which may be severe in high-risk patients.

The survey found that 64 percent of workers used their mobile phones during patient care, with 20 percent of them admitting they had never carried out any hand hygiene procedures, either before or after using their phone.

The survey also revealed that cordless hospital phones were cleaned and disinfected less frequently in pediatric departments than on adult wards.

Stuart White, from Sanondaf UK, said: "These results are quite alarming, and I think will be mirrored across many businesses.

"It is something that many of us do not think about, but it is something that businesses need to be aware of, particularly if you are in a caring profession, such as hospitals, care homes, or nurseries.

Businesses lose many man hours a year to illness, which equates to a lot of money being wasted. These businesses need to put steps in place now to protect workers from infection."

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