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Fighting Germs in Your Facility

Fighting Germs in Your Facility

Each year, somewhere between 5% and 20% of the population will come down with the flu, and around 200,000 people will be hospitalized because of the virus. Health epidemics such as these cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars per year. 

Fighting infection is crucial to maintaining workers’ personal health, as well as the company’s financial health. Illnesses occur year-round, but certain illness-causing germs, like the common cold and influenza, peak during the winter months when we spend more time indoors in close quarters. In the United States, flu season typically stretches from November to April, peaking in January or February.

The CDC reports that 80% of illness-causing germs are spread through touch, which makes cleaning and disinfecting a critical part of preventing illness and outbreaks. Here are some ways that your staff can keep germs at bay.

Thoroughly Clean Public Areas

Frequently touched surfaces like handrails, doorknobs, and keypads are the most common ways to spread germs. Stair railways, faucets, phones, and elevator buttons should also be disinfected. Conference tables should be wiped down before each meeting. Tables and chairs will also need to be cleaned on a regular basis. These public spaces are easily overlooked, but they can be an easy way for viruses and germs to spread through a facility. Wipe out potential virus hangouts by wiping them down with alcohol-based cleaners and disinfectants often. Cutting corners when cleaning gives germs free reign to continue to grow.

There are sneaky ways that the flu virus can spread around your building. It is imperative that building managers and staff frequently check ventilation and HVAC systems to make sure they are clean and free of debris. It is also highly recommended that your cleaning crews vacuum with HEPA filters to help keep air clean.

Remind staff to check the outside areas around cooling towers and drains and on the roof for pools of water, which can collect pathogens that then travel into your building through ventilation systems. Another hidden area that it is important to clean regularly is bathroom exhaust fans. Make sure that the fans are working correctly and are pushing containments and polluted air out, and not sending them further into the restroom.

Choose the Right Disinfectant

Not all disinfectants and antibacterial sprays have the same effect and work across the board. Did you know that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Cleaners physically remove germs with soap and water or detergent, but don't necessarily kill germs. Disinfectants kill top-layer germs, but don't necessarily clean the area. A combination of both - clean first then disinfect - is the best method for reducing the risk of the infection spreading.

 Select products with labels that claim to kill bacteria and viruses like influenza and rhinovirus - the leading cause of the common cold. Always refer to the product label and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and contact time, or the length of time the disinfectant needs to remain wet on the surface to properly kill germs. It is vital that regular cleaning and disinfecting takes place for the most effective protection from the flu. Luckily, the flu virus is not very hardy. The CDC reports that the virus can only live and remain infectious for 2 to 8 hours. Regular cleaning and disinfecting will help keep the flu at bay.

Promote Hand Washing & Provide Hand Sanitizer

Office common areas, such as break rooms and conference rooms, are at increased risk for harboring cold and flu causing germs because they are high access areas where employees come together and likely share and spread germs. Cleaning surfaces, such as countertops and tabletops, and break room appliances, such as microwaves and refrigerator handles, with sanitizing wipes drastically reduces potentially harmful germs and bacteria count. Reducing germs is a group effort, so make it as easy as possible for building occupants to keep facilities clean.

Install hands-free antibacterial hand gel dispensers throughout the facility. Post signs that remind patrons to regularly wash hands. The CDC calls clean hands the most important factor in preventing the spread of germs. Educate all employees on the importance of proper hand washing. Post reminders in restrooms for employees and visitors alike. Make sure that hand soap and paper towels are readily available in every public and employee restroom. It is a good idea to post additional signs by pools, hot tubs and saunas that discourage users from jumping in if they have open scrapes or cuts.

These easy tips make a big difference in fighting germs and staying healthy. Step your germ-fighting game up a notch by establishing a comprehensive cleaning plan, choosing the right cleaning product for your facility and involving everyone in germ prevention.

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