The Season of the Cold is Upon Us
Quite often, people think cold season coincides with cold weather but really, the end of summer and beginning of fall signal the return to school, less vacation, more people congregating indoors which all lead to higher cold and flu transmission rates. With Halloween decorations and even Christmas décor appearing at our local superstores, we can be sure that the 2019-2020 flu season is not far behind.
The influenza virus infection is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. While the majority of cases during flu season are mild, it can cause moderate to severe illness and even death. With so many different strains and the sheer number of people that get sick from things out of your control, it can seem impossible to avoid the flu in your facility.
What’s worse, the common cold and influenza are among the largest contributors to employee absenteeism, loss of productivity and employee morale issues. Fortunately, mitigating the effects of the season is possible with the right health and hygiene practices and a little help from your commercial cleaning company. Proper health etiquette and a detailed knowledge of how bacteria spread around your facility can go a long way to helping keep your employees healthy and happy.
Not only will this save you money that would otherwise have been lost to absenteeism, you’ll create a more welcoming, healthy workplace that encourages productivity and higher quality work. So, what can you and your janitorial services company do to help stop the spread of colds and flus in your facility?
The Flu Vaccine Is One Way To Combat The Flu
The exact time of year that flu season reaches its peak varies year to year but you can generally expect it between the months of December and February. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends getting the yearly flu vaccine for anyone over the age of six months. They also recommend that you take some simple, preventative actions to help prevent you and others from getting sick. While the vaccine varies in effectiveness as there are a number of different strains of influenza infection and vaccines typically target the most common ones, it can be upwards of 60% effective in reducing the total number of cases and is on average, at least 40% effective. While we don’t know exactly what this particular season will bring, it is always a good idea to start getting prepared before it starts. But of course, you as a Facility Manager do not have control over whether people get vaccinated or not.
Hand Washing As Your First Line of Defense
Most health professionals believe that flu spreads through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. When these droplets land on people or surfaces, the risk of transmission is significant. Likewise, a person can also contract the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose. What can you do to protect your employees, customers and anyone who steps into your facility?
The general consensus by health professionals is that the majority of flu cases stem from the droplets that form when coughing, sneezing or even talking. The droplets land on frequently touched surfaces and serve as the primary form of transmission between people when another person touches said surface and then a mucous membrane like your eyes, nose, or mouth.
So a simple, effective step you can take is to remind your employees of proper illness etiquette. Employees coming to work sick is a perfect way to have the common cold spread like wildfire around your facility. Encourage staff to stay home if they are sick. One sick employee can take down countless others making their attempts at heroic productivity in spite of illness actually super counterproductive.
Additionally, remind your employees of proper hand washing techniques. Correct hand washing is often overlooked, but done correctly and often, it can be your most powerful line of defense against infection illnesses. Finally, make sure you and your commercial cleaning company are identifying touch points and hot spots to effectively reduce the bacterial and viral load in your building and minimize points that disease could spread quickly.
Does Your Commercial Cleaning Company Understand Touch Points & Hotspots?
Cleaning services that only clean to make things look nice on the surface and fail to truly clean for health put you and your facility at risk. A clear understanding of hotspots and touch points is critical to preventing the rapid spread of disease around your facility. So what exactly is a touch point? Well, touch points or hotspots are areas that receive a lot of hand traffic and therefore quickly become havens for bacteria and other pathogens. These often take the form of stair rails, elevator buttons, business machines, light switches, door handles, telephones and shared computers. Think about one sick person failing to wash their hands after blowing their nose and then touching things throughout your building leaving a bevy of germs behind ready for the next person.
These all serve as the perfect medium for the common cold to flourish and lie in wait to get all of your staff sick if they aren’t properly attended to. You may be wondering, what exactly does “properly attending” to these areas entail? This means using the correct cleaning chemicals in the correct way. For instance, chemical dwell times are the manufacturer's recommended amount of time that a chemical solution needs to stay on a surface to properly clean it. No matter how high quality the products you use are, if they aren’t used correctly they simply will not work as effectively. Proper cleaning requires knowledge and experience in order to be done well and it must be coupled with solid training programs. But a professional cleaning service can minimize the spread of disease in its tracks and help save you money and time in the upcoming common cold season.
Protecting Yourself and Your Employees with the Right Michigan Cleaning Company
These simple tips can work wonders for helping to reduce absenteeism and improve productivity during the height of cold and flu season. While individually these techniques have limited effectiveness, together they are quite a formidable defense against any pathogen the season has to throw at you. Don’t let illness impact your bottom line, let an experienced, professional Michigan commercial cleaning company work for you to help protect your facility this season.