Cold weather doesn’t cause the flu and other common seasonal infections but it does mean more time indoors and increased transmission. This increased transmission is caused by little more than germy hands touching surfaces that other people touch. Take that hand and put it in your mouth or nose and boom, you are likely the flu’s next casualty. Even just one or two cases of the flu can spread exponentially in your facility. And when that happens, absenteeism climbs and productivity plummets. As a Facility Manager, you want healthy employees AND a healthy bottom line. It is for this reason that your commercial cleaning company is so critical in helping you stem the spread of the flu in your facility. Ineffective cleaning practices and an absence of cleaning for health can quickly turn your facility into a virtual petri dish. If your company isn’t an active partner in safeguarding you, your facility and your employees from the flu and other common transmittable illnesses, you must find a building services company that is.
Flu season builds as more and more people get ill and spread the virus to others, who in turn, spread it to even more people. Influenza and other common bacterial illnesses and viruses have an impact on business owners and Facility Managers every season. You can’t completely eliminate the flu or it’s associated risks but you can reduce the impact of the flu in your facility with just a few measures you take internally and some help from your commercial cleaning company. The best defense is a good offense. What can you do to help reduce the spread of the flu in your facility? First, remind employees and tenants of proper hand washing techniques and sneezing, nose blowing and coughing etiquette. You would be surprised how many adults either don’t know or forget about easy practices like coughing and sneezing into your elbow rather than you hand and washing hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing one’s nose. Posting correct hand washing techniques offers a reminder to all of us to wash our hands and the best way to do it. Second, discourage presenteeism. Presenteeism is coming into work even when one is ill. On the surface, you might think coming in while sick is heroic and helps keep productivity inline but really, this practice does little more than speed up and increase the transmission of disease in your facility. Three days home resting and recuperating for one employee is far better than a sick employee at work with reduced productivity getting ten or more other employees sick.
So you as a Facility Manager are doing your part to reduce the spread of the flu in your facility, is your commercial cleaning company? Is your cleaning company following best practices to keep your facility clean and your employees healthy? Are they reducing the risk of cross contamination through color coded cloth systems and Team Cleaning? Color coded cloth systems mean certain colors are used for dedicated purpose assuring that the rag used to wipe the toilet isn’t also used to clean the break room tables. Team cleaning is a practice where office cleaners are given certain tasks to perform rather than areas to clean. So there might be a restroom specialist, a vacuum specialist and more. This delineation of duties can also reduce the risks associated with cross contamination.
We all appreciate a facility that looks clean and well maintained. But as important as it is that a facility look clean is what is going on that you cannot see. Germs, bacteria and viruses are invisible. You could have a facility that looks perfectly clean but is teeming with disease causing bacteria. The various strains of influenza and the germs that cause the common cold are all invisible to the naked eye. That is why science based cleaning methods like Cleaning For Health and janitorial industry best practices are so critical. Which janitorial best practices are related to the directive of ‘cleaning for health?’ First, HEPA filter vacuum cleaners offer improved indoor air quality, which in turn may diminish the spread of germs and lessen triggers for building occupants that already grapple with allergies and related issues. Second, the research tells us that a focus on hot spots and touch points significantly reducing the transmission of the flu and common colds. Third, the implementation of a system of color coded cloths protects health by diminishing both the load and spread of disease causing germs from one surface to another. Third, utilizing cleaning products according to the manufacturer’s directions including using the right cleaner for the right purpose and following dwell times makes these products far more effective in reducing or eliminating germs on surfaces, door handles and other areas throughout your facility. If your cleaning company does not adhere to janitorial industry best practice, you do not have the partner you need in protecting the health and reputation of your facility.
Touch points and hot spots are so important because these areas are touched throughout the day by nearly everyone in your facility making the chances of transmitting a cold or flu very, very high. What are touch points and hot spots? They are those areas within your building that see the most hands throughout the day like light switches, door handles, shared computer equipment, phones, touch pads and more. So putting specific emphasis on these oft touched areas is a critical step in reducing the spread of illness causing bacteria and viruses. Cleaning the right way with the right cleaning products is an integral part of maintaining a healthy work environment. A professional, responsive and effective commercial cleaning service is knowledgeable in the science of clean, how germs are spread and eradicated and what their specific part is in helping keep your facility clean and reducing the spread of colds and flus.
Your cleaning services can either be a big help or a big hindrance in keeping your facility clean and healthy over the course of the next few months of peak flu season. Of course you want your employees or tenants to be well, but there is also a measurable impact to your bottom line when the flu is allowed to spread like wildfire throughout your facility. Employees that become ill are less productive, transmit illness to other employees and take more sick days. When you partner with a cleaning company that does their part to safeguard your reputation and the health of your employees, you set yourself up for success with a true partner in your facility’s maintenance.
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