PHONES and computer keyboards are being targeted in the war against workplace infection.
A Huddersfield woman has joined the battle to beat the bugs that can contaminate computers, phones and other office equipment to spread micro-organisms ranging from flu to MRSA, C-Difficile and E.Coli.
Former pharmaceutical sales representative Katie Hastelow has set up BugBear Busters to provide a cleaning service for workstations in GPs’ surgeries, hospitals, schools and commercial premises.
She said: “You’d probably be reluctant to shake hands with someone you knew hadn’t washed their hands after going to the toilet.
“Yet most of us don’t think twice about sharing phones and keyboards in the workplace.
“Recent research carried out at Arizona University found that typical workstations contain nearly 400 times more bacteria than toilets, which has the potential to do more than put us of our mid-morning tea and biscuits!
“Contaminated surfaces also play a significant role in the spread of micro-organisms, from the common cold to MRSA, C-Difficile and E.Coli.”
Katie originally set up BugBear Busters to provide specialist cleaning services to the healthcare sector, following concerns about infections in hospital wards.
An increasing reliance on technology to store patients’ records means computers are often used by many people only feet away from patients.
But Katie said: “With growing awareness of the dangers of cross-contamination demand for our services is increasing.
“Now we offer specialist disinfection of keyboards, phones and other IT equipment to a wide range of businesses.
“As well as creating a more pleasant work environment, regularly disinfecting IT equipment delivers a real economic benefit, thanks to reduced staff illness due to cross-infection.”
The service covers everything from computer screens and keyboards, laptops and phones to printers and fax machines. It even includes children’s toy boxes in reception areas.
Katie, who lives at Almondbury, said: “We get a lot of staff asking us to promote our service to their employers.
“Any business where several people are using the same equipment can benefit.
“Disinfection has been shown to reduce bacteria levels by 99%.
“You simply cannot achieve that level of hygiene through cleaning with ordinary soap and water or wiping equipment over with a dry cloth.”
Katie, who is supported by daughter Sophie in the venture, launched Bugbear Busters after more than 15 years working as a pharmaceutical rep.
She said: “I was offered a redundancy package last year and it seemed to be ridiculous not to use the contacts and experience I had developed over the years.”
Business support group Business Link has helped Katie draw up a strategy for her new company while marketing support has come from Slaithwaite-based Pigs and Bees Creative Marketing.