Since March of 2020, Covid-19 has been the main headliner regarding health and public safety. While Covid-19 garnered most of the attention, Influenza, which traditionally gets its spot in the headlines every Fall and Winter, basically fell by the wayside. However, Flu season is not going away, and now is the time to build your defenses.
While the coverage was mostly warranted, one of the major aspects of the publicity was an increased perception and awareness of the importance of cleanliness to minimize the spread.
While the Flu has not been nearly as deadly as Covid-19, its impact on health and the workforce cannot be overstated. One of the worst years for the Flu in recent memory was 2017-2018. An estimated 45 million people fell ill to the Flu that year. Industrial Safety and Hygiene News wrote how not only were there a high number of people infected with the Flu, those who were ill “lost an average 69 per cent of expected work hours”, and that “A typical full-time employee could expect to lose about 3½ of their 5 work days in a given week” due to a Flu infection.
Mitigate the odds of catching and spreading the Flu at your workplace
The same rules that apply to staying safe with Covid-19 also work with the Flu:
- Wash hands. Wet hands with water. Use soap and work into a lather, including the backs of hands, between the fingers, and around fingernails, for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with clean water and dry using a clean towel or air dryer.
- Avoid touching nose, eyes, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Blow nose, cough, or sneeze into a tissue or elbow.
- Routinely clean high touch-point surfaces (eg. light switches, door knobs, phones, computer keyboards).
Facility Managers should implement a number of strategies to minimize the risk of contracting the Influenza virus in the workplace.
- Provide workers with a full supply of tissues, hand sanitizer, hand soap, and disinfecting wipes.
- Encourage all employees to get a seasonal flu vaccination each Fall.
- Send anyone with signs of illness or sickness home, and remain out of the workplace until 24 hours symptom-free.
- Install “hands-free” dispensers for soap, hand towels, hand sanitizer.
- Encourage good hand hygiene practices.
- Encouraging employees to minimize clutter and “knick-knacks” on desk and counter surfaces will reduce dirt and dust accumulation and make cleaning easier.
- Following an outbreak or after sending an individual home with symptoms, disinfect the areas that the individual used with an electrostatic spray disinfectant.
You would also be wise to implement proactive strategies to combat the spread of Influenza rather than being reactive. Waiting until there is an outbreak during Flu season can put people at greater risk of contracting the infection. Sound cleaning principles, such as routinely cleaning desk surfaces, restrooms, break rooms, and kitchenettes, with a regular cleaning agent, is a great way to remove the vast majority of germs from a workplace.
Proactively keeping things clean will help minimize the likelihood of spreading germs and infection. Whether it’s Influenza or Covid-19, or any other host of nasty germs, a regularly clean environment reduces the microorganisms present and eliminates the breeding ground for these organisms.
What is the difference between cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization?
There is a significant difference among these definitions. Cleaning refers to the physical removal of dirt, grime, dust, and organic material by washing or wiping the area with a cleansing detergent or soaps and then rinsing with water. Thorough cleaning must be done prior to disinfection or sterilization. If dirt and organic material are not removed first, it will inhibit the effectiveness of disinfecting or sanitizing efforts. Sterilization is reducing the microorganisms to minimal levels. Disinfection, on the other hand, is using an agent that has been proved by research to kill or neutralize more than 99.999% of the microorganisms that can cause disease or infection.
Through the use of best practices and a robust cleaning program, the risk of infection and becoming sick at the workplace can be greatly reduced. Coupled with consistent disinfection of high touch point areas, Facility Managers can be confident, proactive measures are being implemented to help keep their workforce safe from contracting a sickness such as the Flu. Should an employee become infected, they should be sent home, and effective reactive measures can be taken to disinfect the areas they had come into contact with by using an electrostatic spray disinfecting machine to fully remediate the germs in that area.
No one can stop people in the facility from becoming sick this Flu season. Our job is to stop the spread of infectious outbreaks and reduce the potential for people to get sick. Let Eagle Enterprises LTD assist you in determining if your cleaning program is up to date.
We can help keep you and your building occupants healthy this Fall and Winter — get in touch for a free quote!