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Australians reveal the top nine ways they are terrified of catching coronavirus at work

Australian workers say they are terrified of catching coronavirus from open plan desks, door knobs, and sniffling colleagues as they return to the office.

Millions of staff are slowly returning to offices after months of working from home with the pandemic under control outside Victoria.

But half of them are still scared leaning their home office cocoon will make them sick and want their employers to do more to protect them.

Worried workers singled out nine ways in which they fear they could unwittingly be exposed to the deadly virus, in a new survey.

Three of the top concerns were closely related to the move towards open plan offices, which put them in closer contact with colleagues.

Before the pandemic, a study in March found the numbers of open-plan offices was expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2024.

The top worry, among 47 per cent of staff, was using shared workspaces like meeting rooms, shared desks, kitchens, and bathrooms.

The same percentage feared their sociable colleagues would get infected when they went out at night or on the weekend, and bring it back to the office.

One per cent less feared they would catch it from security buttons, door handles, and lift buttons, and 39 per cent from working in an enclosed space with others.

The more staff a company had, the more likely they were to worry about this – only an third of small businesses said they were concerned compared with more than half for bigger ones.

Another 39 per cent were worried about visitors like customers and delivery drivers and 36 per cent about sharing kitchen utensils, bathroom toiletries, and stationery.

Only a third were concerned about communing on public transport, 28 per cent from lifts and corridors, and 13 per cent from shared company vehicles.

To deal with these issues, half of workers wanted management to ban anyone with even the slightest symptoms from turning up to work.

About the same number wanted offices professionally cleaned more often and using anti-viral cleaning agents.

Forty-three per cent wanted to work from home at least one way a week to mitigate their risk, 46 per cent their own bottle of hand sanitiser, and 31 per cent readily available face masks.

Finally, 28 per cent wanted better communication from bosses about management, with a third of workers saying their company had not shared a plan with them.

Lisa Macqueen, director of cleaning firm Cleancorp which commissioned the survey, said businesses needed to be organised and transparent as staff returned.

‘Australian workers have become worried about sharing their workplaces with others and using shared touchpoints,’ she said.

‘If organisations want to ensure a successful transition back to the office, they should communicate to their employees everything they have done to maximise their safety at work. ‘

Ms Macqueen said all shared surfaces and high-traffic areas from door handles to remotes and coffee machines needed to be frequently deep cleaned.

‘If organisations do not upgrade their regular cleaning practices to meet the new risk environment, they could open themselves up to the risk of infection,’ she said.

‘This could lead to Work Cover claims, negative publicity, and other significant financial costs.’

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