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Headset Hygiene and a Healthy Workplace

Headset Hygiene Overview

Most headset users know the long term ergonomic benefits of using a headset. But, do you know the important implications of good headset hygiene practices?

Several independent studies have documented the reduction of neck, back, and shoulder pain when users switch to telephone headset usage over traditional telephone handsets.

However, not many users know that headsets themselves must be maintained on a regular basis to avoid health and hygiene concerns in the workplace.

A study conducted by the University of Arizona concluded that telephones can be contaminated with up to 25,123 germs per square inch, and that telephones have 500 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.

The population of germs and bacteria can include E.coli, Streptococcus, Salmonella & Staphyloccus aureus, all potentially dangerous and contagious organisms. The same bacteria can be found on telephone headset voice tubes and ear cushions, but unlike a telephone handset, these are cheap to replace and renew, making headsets a healthier alternative.

Hygiene Defined

Hygiene is that branch of biology which designates the conditions upon which health depends and the means by which it may be sustained in all its virtue and purity.

Good hygiene is an aid to health, beauty, comfort, and social interactions. It directly aids in disease prevention and/or disease isolation.

Can Headset Users Get Ear Infections from Their Headsets?

Yes! The UK Health & Safety Executive advises "There may be an increased risk of infection because headsets are worn so intensively. The issue of headsets to individuals is strongly recommended. If sharing from a pool of headsets is unavoidable, then each call handler should be issued with their own personal foam ear pads and voice tubes."

What Can You Do?

  1. Every user should be provided with a headset for their own dedicated use. Sharing headsets is unhygienic.
  2. Leatherette or foam ear cushions should be replaced every time a new person uses the headset.
  3. Windscreens (microphone covers) or voice tubes should be replaced every time a new person uses the headset.
  4. Leatherette or foam ear cushions should be replaced every 6 months or sooner if clogged with makeup or otherwise soiled.
  5. Headset plastics, consoles, and equipment should be cleaned on a regular basis using anti-bacterial wipes or non-alcoholic antiseptic solvents, especially when assigning used headsets to new users.
  6. Windscreens (microphone covers) or voice tubes should be replaced at least every 6 months.
  7. Disposable sanitary headphone covers can provide a sterile protection for headphone and headset users

These tips are the bare minimum recommendations for safe and effective long term headset hygiene.

They should be used as a guide to maintain health and safety regulations in your company.

Not only will they assist in creating a safer workplace for your employees, but they will also promote greater longevity for your headsets and equipment.