Combating the spread of Coronavirus was a primary focus for businesses in previous years. Yet, as we enter peak cold & flu season, preventing the spread of germs remains priority as you work to increase building hygiene and safety.
The seasonal flu peaks between December and February each year. During a “normal” year, we recommend these 5 Cold and Flu Prevention Tips For the Workplace:
- Discourage Presenteeism
- Clean and Disinfect High Touch Surfaces
- Implement a Hand Hygiene Program
- Provide Facial Tissues
- Host an On-Site Flu Shot Clinic
Watch this video to learn more about these 5 Prevention Tips:
While these 5 prevention tips are still crucial to limiting the spread of germs, combating an outbreak will require you to go further.
In this article, we’ll provide 5 additional steps you can take to further curb the spread of germs, and help prevent a Coronavirus or influenza outbreak in your facility.
- Promote Social Distancing
- Encourage Respiratory and Cough Etiquette
- Increase the Frequency of Your Cleaning Schedule
- Reduce High Touch Points
- Go Virtual When Possible
1. Promote Social Distancing
With Coronavirus continuing to spread, it is more important than ever to keep your distance from others.
Both the flu and Coronavirus spread through aerosolized droplets from infected individuals. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (within 6 feet) or be inhaled into the lungs, causing illness.
According to the CDC, limiting close, face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It is also crucial to lessen the spread of cold and flu germs.
The easiest way to encourage social distancing is to place highly visible signs throughout your facility.
Signs should be posted at the entryways and exits of your facility promoting the new guidelines and distancing restrictions.
You might also consider using floor stickers or mats to signal to guests where they should stand to be 6 feet away from one another.
Another way to promote social distancing inside your facility is by limiting the number of employees in the building on any given day. This can be done by creating an alternating workday schedule.
By reducing the number of people in the building on a given day, not only do you reduce the number of people who can be infected, you decrease the amount of shared space.
Shared workspaces should be restructured to allow for six feet between employees.
If this is not possible, consider installing physical barriers, such as plastic guards, to separate workspaces.
2. Encourage Respiratory and Cough Etiquette
To limit the release and spread of respiratory droplets, there are a couple of important respiratory hygiene protocols:
- Wear a Face Covering
- Cover Your Nose and Mouth When Coughing or Sneezing
Wear a Face Covering
Face coverings, also known as face masks, help to slow the spread of infectious droplets.
They should be worn in public settings when you are around people who don’t live in your household, especially when it may be difficult for you to stay six feet apart.
Cover Your Nose and Mouth When Coughing or Sneezing
A single sneeze produces more than 40,000 aerosolized droplets of moisture and millions of germs.
Encourage building occupants to cough or sneeze into a facial tissue and dispose of it right away.
Airborne germs from coughs and sneezes can cause illness via secondary inhalation or absorption through broken skin. By using a tissue, the risk of germs becoming airborne is greatly reduced.
If a facial tissue isn’t available, encourage people to cough or sneeze into the bend of their elbow to contain the spread of droplets.
3. Reduce High Touch Points
As mentioned earlier, the flu and Coronavirus spread through aerosolized droplets. These droplets can land on surfaces which if picked up by someone can cause them to get sick.
The CDC notes that COVID-19 can live for hours or days on a surface, depending on factors such as sunlight, humidity, and the type of surface. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
As a result, minimizing the number of touch points can help lower the spread of germs.
Touchpoints are objects or surfaces that are frequently touched that may harbor potential pathogens and act as a source of germs.
Some examples of high-touch surfaces include:
- Door Handles, Door Knobs, & Handrails
- Light Switches
- Sink and Faucet Handles
- Equipment Keypads
- Elevator Buttons
- Vending Machines
- Breakroom Tables and Chairs
- Copier Buttons
- Counter Tops
- Kitchen Appliance Handles
The higher the number of touchpoints that an area contains, the greater the risk.
One of the best ways to reduce the number of touchpoints in your building is with the integration of touchless alternatives.
Touchfree devices eliminate the need for occupants to come into contact with a surface therefore mitigating the risk of coming into contact with germs.
Touchless alternatives include:
- Automatic paper towel dispensers
- Touch-free faucets
- Automatic hand sanitizer
- Automatic soap dispensers
- Auto flush valves
- Hands-free door openers
- Touchless garbage cans
By integrating touchless devices, your staff will have fewer surfaces to clean, freeing up staff to complete other, more important work.
4. Increase the Frequency of Your Cleaning Schedule
It may not always be possible to install hands-free or touchless devices into your facility.
Because contamination of surfaces is likely occurring when an infected individual coughs or sneezes and releases respiratory droplets, performing more frequent cleaning and disinfecting procedures will also reduce the spread of germs.
This is especially important because both the Coronavirus and the flu are enveloped viruses. Meaning, it is one of the easiest to kill with the appropriate cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Under “normal” conditions, disinfecting can be performed in either a one-step or two-step process. However, according to the CDC, you should only use the two step process when cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
Pro Tip: It is critical to clean and disinfect in two steps. Hard surfaces must be cleaned prior to disinfection versus cleaning and disinfecting at the same time. Proper cleaning alone will remove and inactivate up to 90% of soils and pathogens from the surface. Subsequent disinfection will kill remaining germs if the disinfectant product is used according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
Learn more about the steps to clean and disinfect in this article: What is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?
5. Go Virtual When Possible
Given that respiratory illnesses, like the flu and Coronavirus, are spread through droplets, limiting contact with others greatly reduces the chances of infection.
With rapid advancements taking place in virtual communication technology, meetings that were once held in person can be conducted online.
To limit contact, consider replacing face-to-face internal meetings as well as those with customers, clients, and vendors with virtual meetings.
This may include:
- Phone calls
- Video conferences
- Online training
Many platforms offer several different features that allow the virtual meeting to simulate a live one, including:
- question tabs
- “hand-raising” features
- presentation mode
- …and more
The implementation of these cold and flu prevention tips will help keep your employees healthy and lower the risk of an outbreak in your building.
Prevention begins with encouraging healthy habits among your employees and maintaining a clean facility.
This means promoting and following social distancing guidelines and encouraging healthy behaviors.
Germs also spread quickly and easily through workplaces because of the increased number of communal areas such as shared workstations, restrooms, break rooms, and cafeterias.
Streamlining processes and reducing high touch points paired with an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting schedule will be crucial to lowering the risk of spreading germs.
Imperial Dade locations are committed to helping you reduce the spread of germs, providing a wide variety of commercial cleaning supplies to help your facility combat illness this cold and flu season.
If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, let an Imperial Dade Specialist review your facility’s current cleaning and maintenance protocols.
Our specialists can recommend a cold and flu prevention plan that combines the best commercial cleaning products and janitorial cleaning equipment to keep your occupants healthy and your facility clean.