If you could prevent your employees, clients, students, visitors from getting sick with cold or flu, would you?
If you could prevent your employees, clients, students, visitors from getting sick with cold or flu, would you? The answer to this question seems rather obvious. My hope is that most of you would answer yes. The problem is that many facilities don’t realize that they have access to the tools that can help building occupants stay healthy.
Here are the key steps you can take to prevent building occupants from getting sick:
- Encourage building occupants to use a hand sanitizer as soon as they enter the building or office. This prevents the germs from outside your work area from potentially contaminating your workspace. Using a hand sanitizer in the workspace can reduce absenteeism by 20%
- Provide employees with disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and facial tissue. These tools help reinforce the message to practice good hygiene habits at wor
- Designate every Friday as clean your office germ hot spots day. Each employee before leaving for the weekend is to clean all their office germ hot spots including desk, phone, keyboard, and mouse.
- Ensure washrooms are equipped with quality hand soap and hand drying systems. Proper hand washing is the best way to reduce the spread of germs. Wet hands spread more germs than dry hands so have a hand drying system that encourages the complete drying of hands
- Enforce good kitchen/cafeteria etiquette. Have someone responsible for cleaning and disinfecting the microwave, fridge and sink. Have reminders posted at the entrance of the kitchen/cafeteria that everyone should wash their hands before eating their meal. Do not allow the use of a common sponge to clean lunch dishes. Provide either disposable wipers or dish cloths that are laundered on a regular basis for the washing of kitchen dishes and utensils
- Designate managers and key influencers to lead by example such as always washing their hands before lunch, using hand sanitizer after meetings and practicing good sneezing and coughing etiquette
- Post visual reminders throughout the building reminding all building users to practice good hygiene habits. Change the signage on a regular basis so that they don’t get stale
These steps are important to reducing the spread of the cold and flu virus in a facility. Cold and flu viruses spread very easily through droplets from the nose and mouth of an infected person. Building occupants can catch the flu if they come in contact with a contaminated surface or an infected person and then touch their nose, mouth or eyes. Symptoms develop one to seven days after infection. A person who has one of these viruses is contagious for 24 hours before and up to 7 days after the onset of symptoms. A person can remain infectious until symptoms are gone. Hand to Face Contact Plays a Key Role in Disease Transmission. Some key facts that highlight this fact are:
- Every 60 seconds, a working adult in an office touches as many as 30 objects
- An adult brings his fingers to his face 18.5 times per hour (8 to nose, 8 to mouth and 2.5 to eyes)
- 40 to 90 % of the adults with a cold have the virus on their hands
- 20% of the objects handled by a person with a cold have virus on them
- Cold and flu can survive up to 72 hours on surfaces
- Viruses which cause diarrhea can survive for 2-4 weeks on surfaces
The difficulty in implementing these steps is that in many cases, the expenses for providing these items get recorded in one budget (environmental services or building maintenance) and the savings in another. The solution is to include all key decision makers and influencers in choosing the best programs to improve hygiene and wellness in a building. When you can demonstrate significant cost reductions, all parties are willing to listen. It’s time that the cost of cleaning and providing good hygiene is seen as an investment. This discussion needs to take place at the executive level and in the boardroom. Hand and environmental hygiene must be perceived as a vital component to workplace wellness and a tool to reduce operating costs.