The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 56 million cases of influenza occurred during the 2019-2020 flu season. This flu season is coupled with the novel coronavirus pandemic, presenting a double threat to facility managers and cleaning professionals who are working to clean and disinfect buildings while keeping staff members healthy. In fact, the term “twindemic” is being used to describe the potential fallout that a severe flu season might bring.
The flu costs the U.S. an average of $10.4 billion per year for medical expenses and $7 billion due to sick days and lost productivity. Cleaning professionals are essential workers who have an opportunity to help businesses reduce losses related to winter illnesses like the flu. Especially this year, managers know it is vital to make sure their custodial workers have the proper knowledge, tools, chemistry and mindset necessary to reduce the spread of pathogens.
Best Practices for Keeping Illnesses Away
Facility managers can help protect their workforce and their customers by:
- Confirming the safety and efficacy of cleaning products. Choose products with demonstrated efficacy against common viruses such as influenza and human coronavirus. Electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions that are produced from salt, water and electricity using an on-site generator come with added assurance. This is because managers and employees can test the pH and free available chlorine (FAC/ppm) of ECA solutions every day to confirm they are within acceptable and effective ranges. ECA solutions are especially well suited for cleaning and disinfecting facilities of all types and sizes, as they kill or inactivate 99.999% of disease-causing pathogens. The solutions are proven to be effective against pathogens such as Norovirus, E. Coli, the Influenza A virus and human coronavirus.
- Adhering to the golden rule of cleaning. By following a two-step cleaning process, employees can clean more effectively. First, an all-purpose cleaner is applied to remove surface soils, prevent the buildup of biofilms and restore the look of finishes. Then, workers follow up with a disinfectant to combat the remaining invisible pathogens. Disinfectants are designed to kill bacteria and fungi and inactivate viruses like influenza. Surface cleaning is critical, as some viruses, like cold and flu, can remain active on surfaces for several hours. Complying with the manufacturer’s recommended dwell time for each product helps ensure that the products are effectively removing layers of soil and targeting potentially harmful pathogens.
- Recognizing public health lapses and overcoming them. Unfortunately, a majority of U.S. adults (55%) skip their annual flu shot. During the 2018-2019 season, no state averaged vaccination coverage over 60.4%, according to CDC data. While many facilities have implemented temperature monitoring at their entrances in response to the pandemic, it is impossible to prevent all who are sick from visiting public places. Many people who contract COVID-19 and the flu do not experience signs of illness. Despite precautions like face masks and social distancing, sick people will inevitably contaminate surfaces by touching them. Thankfully, regular cleaning and disinfecting can keep cold, flu and SARS-CoV-2 viruses from spreading throughout facilities and to other people. With effective solutions on hand, facility managers and their employees can contribute to healthier communities.
- Increasing cleaning (without overcleaning) in the event of an outbreak. Facility managers understand that there is a delicate balance between frequent cleaning and overcleaning. Overcleaning with toxic, conventional chemicals can worsen allergies, asthma and other respiratory or auto-immune conditions among building occupants, including children. At the same time, these chemicals can negatively impact indoor air quality.
However, ECA solutions are non-irritating to eyes and skin, making them ideal for frequent use. Plus, generating these cleaning and disinfecting solutions on site means employees always have access to the chemicals they need to do their best work and uphold client satisfaction. If an outbreak of either the flu or COVID-19 occurs, employees can easily increase the output of these solutions to more frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces within the facility without putting people at risk.
Maintaining Health and Safety during Winter
Facility managers and their employees have been working around the clock to keep facilities safe during the pandemic. With winter around the corner, it’s important to consider the risks that cold and flu season brings. When custodial workers have a reliable supply of effective cleaning and disinfecting solutions and the right tools, they can better protect their communities and themselves. The added protection of a flu shot can also make a difference, especially for people with weakened immune systems.
Set your cleaning business or organization apart by showcasing your dedication to employee wellness. Learn more about cleaning and disinfecting solutions that are environmentally responsible and non-irritating to eyes and skin at www.pathosans.com.