Bacterial Dangers Lurking in Unclean Workplaces – WHS Canberra

An unclean workplace is a health risk to employers, employees, and customers alike; it can also put an employer in breach of work health and safety (WHS) laws in Canberra. In this blog post, we highlight the bacteria that may be lurking in unclean workplaces.

For the record, high levels of bacteria are commonly found on door handles, desks, and telephone handsets, as well as in kitchens, lunchrooms, and toilets. Bacteria levels in the workplace can be reduced through regular surface cleaning – assisting with WHS compliance in Canberra.


Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria can be contracted when a person touches a contaminated surface in the workplace. The bacteria is usually deposited by an infected person or insect (cockroaches and ants are common carriers). Although most staph infections don't require hospitalisation, a person with underlying health issues can potentially develop meningitis, pneumonia, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, or septic phlebitis.

Group A Streptococcus (GAS)

Like staphylococcus, group A streptococcus (GAS) can be contracted from contaminated surfaces, such as microwave and fridge doors, light switches, door handles, and toilet seats. The source of GAS is usually other people (who are infected) or certain insects (cockroaches and ants). A typical GAS infection can cause tonsillitis, cellulitis, pharyngitis, or scarlet fever. In rare cases, invasive group A streptococcal disease (iGAS) requires hospitalisation.


Salmonella bacteria is a common cause of food poisoning in Australia. It infects the bowel and can result in abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, and fever. Salmonella is typically found in contaminated chicken, eggs, and unpasteurised milk. Ants, cockroaches, and rodents can also carry and transmit (indirectly) salmonella to humans. One of the dangers of salmonella is that it can survive on kitchen benchtops and toilet seats for up to several days.

Escherichia coli (E. coli)

Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli) is a bacteria found in the lower intestines of most mammals, including humans. There are many strains of E. coli, many of which don’t cause illness. The strains that do cause illness – namely ETEC and EPEC – are often found in the faecal matter of infected humans and animals (including ants). People who contract virulent E.coli experience diarrhoea and vomiting. Toilet seats and washroom taps are touchpoints susceptible to E. coli.

Other Nasty Bacteria

Other nasty bacteria in the workplace include campylobacter, shigella, and listeria. Campylobacter and listeria are prevalent in unclean kitchens, whereas shigella is more likely to be found on toilet seats and washroom taps. All three bacteria cause unpleasant symptoms over the short term, though listeria can potentially develop into meningitis or septicaemia (blood poisoning). Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of nasty bacteria that can undermine WHS in Canberra.  

To learn more about how Sleek Cleaning Services can assist with your work health and safety (WHS) obligations in Canberra, please call 0415 147 240 or email