According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 2010, the flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations each year. To help prevent outbreaks and protect building occupants, GSF USA offers tips to consider for the 2021-2022 flu season.
“As the pandemic continues, concerns about the upcoming flu season have grown,” said Troy Bargmann, president of GSF USA. “Fortunately, facilities can take simple steps to prepare to minimize outbreaks and keep buildings clean. A commitment to health and safety supports brand reputation, employee morale and retention and much more.
GSF USA recommends the following:
- Develop a comprehensive cleaning plan and train staff – Work with a trusted service provider to define a detailed cleaning plan that specifies cleaning tasks and frequencies. In the event of an epidemic, increase disinfection. Most importantly, train staff to properly use cleaners, disinfectants and tools. Improper cleaning can actually spread germs and lead to poor cleanliness. Providing employees with the proper personal protective equipment and investing in comprehensive training will ensure consistent cleaning performance and help fight pathogens.
- Focus on common touchpoints – The flu virus can survive for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces. During flu season, it is important to regularly clean and disinfect high touch points to limit the spread of pathogens. These include doorknobs, light switches, sink handles, elevator buttons, and any other surface frequently touched by many people.
- Increase Daytime Cleansing – Daytime cleaning has become more common during the pandemic and is also an effective strategy for dealing with the flu. Daytime cleaning allows a facility to increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection. It also allows cleaning staff to stay on top of tasks while building occupants are around and need them most, rather than waiting for the end of the day. Equally important is the fact that daytime cleaning gives building occupants peace of mind that the facility prioritizes cleanliness and health.
- Encourage hand washing and provide hand sanitizer in key areas – Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to kill germs, including the flu. According to the CDC, scrubbing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is essential. Unfortunately, many people skip washing their hands altogether, just use water or don’t wash with soap long enough. Posting signs in all handwashing areas reminds building occupants and visitors how to wash their hands effectively. Additionally, placing accessible hand sanitizer at entrances and throughout the facility, such as near elevators, is another way to help reduce the spread of germs.
- Require staff and visitors to stay home when sick – Coming to work or school sick is no longer acceptable. Before the pandemic, many people were doing it and were unaware of the consequences and impact. However, this puts all occupants of the building at risk of becoming ill and potentially triggering an epidemic. Before flu season, make sure your facility’s sickness policy is up to date and communicate it to everyone who works, learns, and maintains the facility. The CDC recommends staying home until 24 hours after your fever subsides without the use of medication, or at least four to five days after symptoms start.