Safety and OSHA News

Is that a raisin on your keyboard, or is it … ?

Here’s the latest workplace health hazard: keyboards. And part of the problem is what mice (the animal kind) are doing on your keyboards at night while you’re not around.

Great Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) says workers who eat lunch at their desks are creating health hazards for themselves.

That’s because the food crumbs that fall into the keyboards lure mice.

At night, the mice scrounge for food and dig into the crumbs in keyboards.

Problem is, the mice have no problem pooping where they eat, so to speak.

The RSC says workers can get sick simply by typing on a pooped-on keyboard and then picking up a sandwich with their unwashed hands. The potential stomach illness has been dubbed “qwerty tummy” after the first six letters on a keyboard.

One London cleaning company told the RSC that a woman couldn’t understand why seeds kept popping out of her keyboard when she typed. An investigation showed them to be mouse droppings.

Scientists found traces of E. coli after swabbing keyboards in their London offices.

One keyboard was so dirty that a microbiologist ordered it removed, quarantined and cleaned.

The RSC really wants to spread the word about keeping desks clean at work. And what better way to do that than with a contest?

The scientists will give £300 (about $439) to the sender of the most awful image of a workplace keyboard.

What’s the worst office keyboard you’ve seen? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. This article is rediculous! Who doesn’t know what a mouse dropping looks like? This kind of sensationalist writing should be banned. They have even named the “potential stomach illness”. Oh, My!

  2. They make sealed keyboards that can bu run through the dishwasher. It’s probably not a bad idea for those of us forced to eat lunch at our desks to invest in one.

  3. I agree with KW.
    This is ridiculous.
    If you’re such a slob that mice are eating your crumbs off your keyboard, you deserve whatever illness you get.

  4. Here’s another supporter of K.W. and gpm’s comments. I eat at my desk daily and I’m sure I would recognize mouse droppings. If the problem is so bad the mice are getting on keyboards, I would contend that there are several problems. If there are enough crumbs to lure a mouse, the eater must be pretty sloppy and if the mice are running rampant over keyboards then the rodent problem in the building is out of control.

  5. buglady says:

    I am in the pest control business and I agree with K.W. you should be able to see the droppings. But we need to remember this is in London and they dont have the standards we have in the USA. They are not as educated and live with pests we would never think of having in our homes or business.

  6. I actually find this article hilarious and entertaining. It gave me a little chuckle. Bottom line, if the building has a rodent problem, they need to clean it up. If someone gets e-coli from eating at there desk the company will pay far more in hospital costs than for pest control.

  7. I suspect that those who regularly eat at their desk have no idea how dirty their keyboard is. You can wipe off your desk surface but how often is the keyboard dumped or cleaned. Hold your keyboard upside down, tap it several times, and be amazed at the pile. I read a study that claims the average keyboard holds more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Typical cube drawers are much more accessable than a desk and I imagine the average food inventory per cube would feed a lot of mice. Have a nice lunch.

  8. I worked with a woman who not only had the nastiest keyboard ever, but left boiled eggs and old toast on her desk. Anyone who worked at her desk in her absence had to bleach it down before working there. I’m sure mice and roaches were crawling there at night. Under her desk wasn’t much better. This article should be posted for the nasty co-workers to see!

  9. I found this article to be pretty funny and also had a chuckle reading it. I am sure glad that we have our keyboards cleaned frequently. But, as far as I know we don’t have a rodent problem either.

  10. Kat Evans says:

    Actually our Claims Dprt is in the chassis shop right next to the parts room. We did have a roden problem in the parts room. The ladies in claims had no idea what mouse droppings looked like untill I pointed them out(on their respective desk). We have since taken care of the roden problem in the parts room.

  11. NancyNew says:

    I work in a building that was built in the 40’s, sited with fields around it. It isn’t tight. We have a full kitchen. The administration desks are against the kitchen wall, and occastionally, in winter, young mice have been known to make their way onto those desks in broad daylight, with the employees sitting at the desks. We put out traps, and they’ll get caught with the person sitting right there. It isn’t so much food as proximity to the kitchen area here–and oncoming winter drives the mouse problem here more than anything else.

  12. I work in the car repair business. The building we work out of is very old and the office was originally part of the shop space that was converted to office space quite some time ago. We do our best to keep everything clean and tidy but it’s an old building. We do occasionally get mice that come inside and will get into the office. I keep my desk clean and there is not any food left out but yes, they will still wander around and leave a present or 2. I clean and sanitize my desk and keyboard often and have never had droppings in the keyboard. I do find it odd someone would not know what they are. But, remember that not everyone works in a new state of the art building that is air tight. I grew up in a rural area and am accustomed to mice occasionally getting inside – you just need to be aware of the situation and stay on top of it.

  13. Actually eating mouse droppings is not a health hazard. The protien content is usually about 18 to 20%. Common ground black pepper is allowed by the usda to have up to 10% rat and mouse poop by volume, since it’s impossible to keep it to zero. If it werent for the mice how would my keyboard get cleaned?? 🙂

  14. We have had problems with mice in the office due to people stocking there desks with chips, candy, cookies, etc. I have had mouse droppings on my desk because of this and I don’t eat at my desk nor stock perishables in my office. Remember, while the cats away the mice might be dating your computor mouse!

  15. I find this interesting. I live in a rural area and have an invasion of mice (usually catch one or two but have had more some years) at my home in the fall every year. So, I know mouse droppings when I see them. I also eat at my desk most days but not over my keyboard. I also clean my keyboard keys with alcohol regularly. What amazed me was the amount of stuff that came out when I flipped my keyboard and shook it!! Mostly dust and lint, but some crumbs that could have been food (no recognizable mouse droppings). I was surprised! Will be “cleaning” the keyboard this way in addition to alcohol wipes from now on even though I don’t worry a whole lot about mouse-borne hazards!

  16. Here’s how I clean my keyboard occasionally. I use a gentle stream of compressed gas (from a can or tank) with a nozzle attached to blow out the bits of dust and food. Some keyboards are harder than others to clean by simply shaking them, so the gas helps.

  17. I have to say that the worse thing I’ve ever seen on a keyboard was a tongue ring. Now mind you, this tongue ring belonged to a temp. so she wasn’t the only person touching the keyboard. The person that came in on the shift after her had to touch it too. She wasn’t alowed to wear the tongue ring so instead of leaving it at home, she would wear it in and then take it out and put it on the keyboard. Yuk!!! How many germs do you think that spread? We had to start spraying it with Lysol.

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