The sickness absence rate in the UK was at a record low in 2020 at 1.8%. But, the following year saw 149.3 million work days lost due to absenteeism, the highest since 2010.
Clearly, the pandemic had a huge effect on the rise in days lost to sickness, but Covid also highlighted the need for improved hygiene at work, and in the home.
New guidelines were drafted, and businesses and individuals were expected to follow certain protocols. Surfaces needed to be disinfected more frequently, improved ventilation was recommended, and hand sanitiser became ubiquitous.
Yet, for years office workers have been operating with a huge health hazard right below their feet.
When are carpets and rugs necessary?
Many people forego carpets in favour of solid wood flooring, or tiling. Some people believe that this type of flooring is easier to clean, however, carpets and rugs are sometimes more practical.
Carpets provide a soft play area for kids in the home, and if rug cleaning services are used, they make a safe environment for crawling and playing. An industrial style flooring might look cool in an apartment, but it won’t provide any cushioning for a toddler when they tumble.
Carpeting also provides sound and heat insulation, and hard-wearing materials make good floor coverings for high-traffic areas such as offices.
Are office carpets a hygiene issue?
Less than half of office workers take breaks away from their desks, and 20 percent of them actually eat their lunch there too. Crumbs get dropped, drinks can spill, and accidents happen. When food debris ends up in carpets it joins a list of other ingredients that can all cause health issues.
As people walk through the office, any dirt or grime in the carpet will be further embedded into the fibres, making it harder to properly clean. There are many common hygiene tips for the workplace, but seldom do carpets get the attention they deserve.
Spilled drinks can cause mould, crumbs will decay and grow bacteria, and there are numerous other things to worry about buried in office carpets, including viruses.
What can you find in a typical carpet?
Right now you might be feeling happy that you don’t work in an office, but home carpets aren’t free from hidden nasties either. Any rug or carpet that sees typical use may be home to the following:
DirtGritDustGrimeSkin – animal and humanBugs and mitesBacteriaFood debrisFaecal matterHair – animal and human
Carpets can be home to some worrying diseases too. Dangerous penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus has been found in carpets.
What are the dangers of carpets and rugs?
Covid certainly made everyone think harder about hygiene at home and in the workplace, and this led to 1/3rd of workers resisting a return to work due to health concerns.
It has been said many times that carpets are 4,000 times worse than toilet bowls for germs, and floor coverings can host dangerous bacteria. It is possible for office carpets to contain norovirus, campylobacter, and micrococcus bacteria.
Rugs and carpets also make nice homes for dust mites, carpet beetles, and bed bugs, although you are more likely to find carpet bugs that also bite incidentally.
Dust mites can cause asthma attacks and exacerbate symptoms, and carpet beetles can irritate eyes and cause problems with respiratory tracts.
Are carpets in the home or at work a health hazard?
Before you rip up all your carpets, stay calm. There are many benefits to having carpets, and hard-wearing materials can last for years in offices. Rugs help to protect wooden flooring from scratches and scrapes, and carpets provide warmth and comfort.
It is important to realise that the carpets themselves aren’t the problem. It’s how they are used and abused that leads them to become health hazards. Pets in the home mean that carpets need cleaning more often. Especially if you have children too.
How can carpets and rugs be made safer?
Regular vacuuming helps to remove loose dirt and debris, and it will also reduce dust that attracts dust mites. Shampooing can help keep your carpet looking fresh and reduce odours, but to really clean deep you may need professional help.
A firm such as The Happy House Cleaning company uses equipment that cleans deeper than household products can. Powerful vacuums will help draw loose dirt out from the fibres, and deep cleaning will leave carpets safer and more hygienic.
Hygiene and the health of workers should be a priority when scheduling carpet cleaning, but there are other benefits to using professional services. The grit and debris that ends up in carpets don’t just accumulate and cause health problems, it also wears down the fibres leading to a shorter lifespan.
Carpets can be practical in the workplace, and they offer a way to cover a floor attractively at home. But, they need cleaning regularly, and properly. Otherwise, carpets could cause you to become sick.