According to the CDC, up to 79,000 people die each year from the flu virus. Though the 2018-2019 flu season was one of “moderate severity,” health officials are predicting that the 2019-2020 season could be significantly more severe. For those in the cleaning industry, flu season is an opportunity to protect the lives of building occupants. Keep reading for four ways to fight flu season in your facility.
1. Focus on Touch Points
According to a 2011 study the influenza virus only stays contagious on hands for around 20 minutes. The average person can touch a remarkable number of surfaces in that time, from light switches and drawer-pulls to doorknobs and desktops. Depending on the porosity of the surface, the virus can survive on it between 6 hours and 7 days. During flu season, have your staff increase cleaning frequency of common touch points to remove the virus before it has a chance to spread.
Prevent the spread of the flu by focusing on touch points.
2. Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
To fully remove bacteria and viruses, cleaners must practice a two-step process of cleaning and disinfecting. Educate your team on the difference between the two, and provide the proper tools needed to clean and disinfect. According to the CDC, cleaning is the removal of organic material, while disinfectants are specifically designed to kill germs. Electrochemically-activated (ECA) solutions such as PathoClean and PathoCide are a safer and more effective way to clean and disinfect surfaces. Learn more about ECA solutions here.
3. Keep Employees Healthy
Your employees can’t keep buildings safe from influenza if they’ve also fallen ill to the virus. A 2018 article from ManageMen offers these suggestions to keep employees healthy:
- Make flu shots easily accessible to your staff by either bringing the shots to them or providing them with a list of clinics and time off to get the shot.
- Protect workers with proper PPE (face masks, gloves) to prevent them from becoming exposed to the flu virus while working.
- Encourage sick workers to stay home. A sick cleaner might do more to spread the virus than clean it. Have a policy in place that allows staff to stay home and take care of themselves when ill.
- Implement a hand washing protocol. Remind workers to wash their hands after each cleaning task, after taking out the garbage, and at the end of their shift, even if they were wearing protective gloves.
Keep employees healthy by making flu shots readily available.
4. Stay Educated
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Every flu season is different, and you can stay ahead of it by staying educated. For a more thorough cleaning guide, consider the ISSA Cold and Flu Cleaning for Infection Prevention guide. You can also monitor the severity of the current flu season via the CDC Flu Season page. If you arm yourself with knowledge and have a cleaning plan in place, you and your cleaning staff can help reduce the spread of influenza.
To learn more about the cost of the flu, explore our infographic here.