Halloween is just a few weeks away and many of us look forward to the good natured scares that make this season such a frighteningly fun one. With fall, you get kids back in school, the changing leaves, the cooler weather and of course ‘pumpkin spice’ in everything you could imagine, and a few things you can’t.
Fall also ushers in some less than welcoming things, like the not so fun beginning of flu season. And your workplace restrooms can be downright terrifying when it comes to cleanliness and reducing the risk of spreading disease causing germs. Is your janitorial services company working with you or against you this flu season 2015? Or, have you been trying to go it alone using either your own in-house cleaning team or shifting duties to an employee or two but find that is only making things worse?
The reality is that as a Facility Manager, the flu and its associated risks should concern you. If cold and flu season and the state of your facilities has got you crouched beneath the covers waiting for it to be over, never fear. We have a quick and easy run down of all of the information you need to tackle what is often the dirtiest part of your building and keep you, employees, customers and visitors protected during flu season and beyond.
You might wonder if restroom cleaning matters when the dreaded flu season comes around. The answer is it does, the state of your office restroom cleaning can make or break everything from absenteeism to productivity to employee engagement. In fact, the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimate that the flu is responsible for over 15 million missed workdays every flu season
The flu vaccine continues to be the best first line of defense but many, if not most of your employees will either forget, wait too late or opt not to get this year’s flu vaccination. So what can you do to partner with your office cleaning company to minimize the severity of this year’s flu season? Flu seasons are unpredictable and while you cannot keep everyone from getting sick, you can take some preventative measures to stave off real problems and an unpleasant financial impact. With the right office cleaning company or janitorial service, you can avoid an office pandemic by killing the germs and bacteria where they congregate.
Dirty Restrooms Make People Sick, Period.
Scares aren’t just for Halloween, something truly frightening could be lurking in your office restrooms. See that trash piling up? Did you happen to notice the cloudy water gathering around the sinks? Or how about the lingering, swampy funk that never seems to go away? While these are all gross, and a sign that your janitorial company isn’t doing their job, they can also be a harbinger of inadequate maintenance. And poorly cleaned restrooms can harbor and spread germs and more germs mean a higher likelihood that the multiply, spread and make people sick. This equates to higher absenteeism, a down swing in morale and a bane to your bottom line. What can you as a Facility Manager do to reduce the spread of the flu and other illness? You can keep your restrooms cleaned with the help of top-notch janitorial services or an office cleaning company that is up to the challenge.
For Goodness Sakes People, Wash Your Hands!
Hand washing could have utterly transformed the Middle Ages and the Black Death. Simple good habits can be very helpful in controlling germs and reducing the spread of disease in your facility. Washing your hands is wicked wonderful in warding off the transmission of disease causing germs. But watch people the next time you use a restroom and you will see, too many people either don’t wash their hands at all, do not wash them at the most critical periods like after using the restroom and before eating or do not wash their hands correctly. While hand washing seems so straightforward, it’s amazing just how many people do it wrong. What do the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the authority on the subject, have to say?
The CDC tells us it is best to wash one’s hands:
- Before, during, and after food preparation and eating
- Before and after caring for a person who is ill
- Before and after treating any open wound, cut or abrasion
- After using the toilet, changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After touching garbage
Wonder if you are you washing your hands correctly? First, wet your hands with clean, running water, and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap making sure to include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and beneath your fingernails. Your mechanical scrubbing and lathering should last at least 20 seconds. Finally, rinse your hands well with clean water and dry them with a clean towel or air-dry them. There are some great Hand washing Posters and printouts available and you might consider posting these as a reminder to employees.
Hit ‘Em Where They Live, How To Get The Germs Where They Hang Out
If your office cleaning company or janitorial services are spending their time in the wrong place, they might as well not even do the work as far as the flu virus is concerned. Where do germs hang out? They love the many surfaces our hands touch each day. We call these high touch points and hot spots. In a busy office or building, areas like faucet handles, light switches, stall doors, computer mice and touch pads, telephones and more see many hands throughout the course of an average day.
So Maxine from H.R. scratches her nose, she is getting over the flu virus and when she opens the bathroom door, she leaves invisible germs ready for the next person and other people throughout the day. While we cannot fully eradicate infectious disease transmission as those little buggers are pretty efficient, regular cleaning with a emphasis on touch points can greatly reduce germ load which impacts transmission and the overall risk of catching something.
Make Sure Your Janitorial Company Understands Cleaning For Health & SmartClean
Does your janitorial services company understand the basic tenets of proper cleaning? Does your office cleaning company know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing? And do they know which modality is used in which situation? If they don’t, they are putting your health and reputation at risk. Cleaning removes visible soil, grime and some germs off of a surface or object. Cleaning is a primarily physical process that works by using a detergent product and water to remove germs from surfaces through agitation. While cleaning does not necessarily kill germs, it reduces their numbers and limits the risk of disease transmission. Disinfecting kills germs using chemicals. You can disinfect a surface without actually removing dirt and the process doesn’t necessarily remove the germs but knocks them dead if you use your products correctly. Sanitizing is the process of lowering the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level. Taken together these processes reduce dirt and germs to a level where they are unlikely to do harm.
Find a janitorial service that understands the science behind cleaning, how to target germs right where they live and is committed to doing good work doing flu season and beyond and you just might make it through with smiles rather than end up with your employees looking like Haunted House extras!