Two of the top 4 most popular New Year resolutions are to eat healthier and spend less money. Packing lunch can help office workers accomplish both.
But your office refrigerator could be a lurking health hazard.
Keep reading to learn more about the dangers hiding in your communal fridge, and what you can do to prevent them.
Why Your Office Refrigerator Could Be a Health Hazard
The stinky aromas coming from the lunch sack of your exotic-food-loving deskmate is far from the only hazard lurking in your office fridge.
In fact, there are actual health threats that could be developing in your communal refrigerator.
The biggest threat of shared fridges is that they don’t have enough space for everything they’re trying to contain. This actually applies to any refrigerator that’s been overstuffed with food, drinks, and containers.
In order for a refrigerator to work properly, cool air needs to be able to circulate throughout the space. But when there’s too much inside, the air is blocked. This can cause some foods to not be properly cooled.
Some foods are tossed in the fridge because it is convenient, or because they taste better chilled. But other foods, like many dairy or meat products, have to be kept cooled to keep them safe to consume.
Office workers might not realize that their foods weren’t properly cooled while in the fridge, and could then eat them and get ill.
Another hazard of shared refrigerators is that they can cause items to be forgotten in the back and left to rot. As mold or bacteria begins to grow, it may spread to the newer food that people still plan to eat, making them ill.
How to Keep Your Shared Fridge Safe
In order to prevent these office health hazards from spreading illness through the cubicles, it’s important to put a few rules and habits in place to keep your employees or coworkers safe.
Set a Cleaning Schedule
As a business owner or office manager, it likely falls to you to either personally clean the fridge or see to it that it gets cleaned by outsourcing your office cleaning.
This isn’t something to save for spring cleaning each year. Instead, it should be a regular task. For a fridge that’s used heavily and that sees its share of messes, you should aim to clean it every week.
Cleaning your office refrigerator involves a few different steps. First, clear out all old or uneaten food. If your employees or coworkers keep certain packs of food to eat through, keep them as long as they aren’t open or past their expiration.
If it takes a while for your office fridge to fill, you can always set a monthly date when you will empty it. Let employees know so that they have time to move out anything they want to keep. Then, toss anything leftover on that date, every month.
Even condiments like ketchup have expiration dates and should be tossed when they reach it.
Once you’ve cleared out the clutter, it’s time to get cleaning.
You’ll need to choose a cleaner that can kill bacteria and germs but without posing a health hazard of its own. For instance, bleach might kill germs, but it could also contaminate any food that’s still in the fridge.
Make Cleaning Supplies Easy to Reach
While it may fall to you to clean out the fridge on a weekly basis, accidents may happen more frequently.
Spilled drinks, leaky lunch boxes, and other messes can cause mold to form in your fridge before you ever get a chance to clean it up.
Rather than leaving the health hazard for someone else to clean up, give your employees or coworkers the tools they need to clean up after themselves.
Make a cleaning station or cabinet in your office kitchen.
Stock it with anything you think someone might need to clean up a mess. Don’t stop at cleaning the fridge either. Materials to clean up a microwave, coffee maker, and other kitchen appliances are also a must.
Once you’ve set up your station, make sure that your staff knows that it exists.
Enforce Some Office Kitchen Etiquette
Letting your office staff know that there are cleaning materials available isn’t enough to encourage them to clean up after themselves.
Instead, you need to make a clean, healthy environment a part of your office culture. That means setting some office kitchen etiquette and then making sure that everyone is aware of it.
From cleaning up messes to tossing uneaten meals to packing lunches in sealed containers, your office kitchen etiquette should aim to hold individuals accountable for keeping the fridge clean and healthy.
Upgrade Your Kitchen
If you’ve started cleaning out your office fridge and encouraging your staff to do their part to keep it clean, but are still experiencing problems, it might be time for an upgrade.
You already know that a fridge that is too small can’t circulate air properly when it is full. The same may also be true for an older refrigerator or one that isn’t running properly. If air isn’t circulating over all of the fridge’s contents, they aren’t be cooled to safe temperatures.
Upgrading to a new or larger fridge can help alleviate this hazard.
Keeping Your Office Clean and Safe
Your office refrigerator is far from the only health hazard.
Keeping your workspace clean is essential to keeping your employees healthy and happy, and healthy, happy employees are the cornerstone of a successful business.
If you’re busy doing your part to keep the business running and don’t have time to scrub the fridge and countertops, vacuum, and otherwise keep your office shining, we can help. Check out our comprehensive office cleaning service to learn more.