It's that time of year: cold and flu season. And that means offices and workplaces are filled with a cacophony of coughs, sneezes and nose blows. while these noises can be distracting and lead to the spread of viruses and bacteria, they also can be downright gross. 81 percent of U.S. employees have said they have witnessed a gross workplace habit -- from leaving dirty tissues strewn about the desk to persistent sniffling. Cintas Corp. and Harris Poll surveyed 2,011 U.S. adults to find out the grossest office behavior when it comes to cold and flu season. No. 1 was people wiping their runny nose on their hands or sleeve.

The top five "grossest" cold and flu behaviors:
  1. 16 percent -- Wiping runny nose on hands or sleeve
  2. 15 percent -- Not covering mouth/nose when sneezing
  3. 12 percent -- Not covering mouth when coughing
  4. 9 percent -- Not washing hands frequently
  5. 8 percent -- Leaving dirty tissues on desk

Other gross behaviors cited included: a hacking cough, touching common-area surfaces while sick, persistent sniffling without blowing, nose blowing in general, blowing nose into the sink and spitting in trash can or sink. Washing your hands well and frequently is the best way to prevent getting a cold or the flu, especially when you are in close contact with someone who is sick.

Here are some tips on how to wash your hands to prevent disease:

  • Always use soap when washing your hands and be sure to scrub for a minimum of 15 seconds to 30 seconds to effectively remove germs.
  • Use hand-sanitizer in addition to (and not in place of) hand-washing, as sanitizers are not as effective as soap and water at removing germs and bacteria.
  • Always dry your hands after washing, as germs and bacteria can be more easily transferred to and from wet hands.
  • Dry your hands with paper towels instead of air dryers to help remove germs and bacteria as air dryers can increase bacteria counts.


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