Workplace Wellness & Security

5 tips for attacking germs in your facility

David Spence
October 22nd, 2014

Fighting sickness in the workplace:

Disinfect common areas and furniture

Restrooms are often thought of as a common center for germs. But the Staples Advantage blog says that other areas actually breed more bacteria (restrooms, after all, are cleaned on a regular basis). What needs more attention is the break room. Multiple people touch the refrigerator door, the coffee pot handle, the vending machine buttons, etc. These items need to be wiped with a disinfectant on a daily basis, especially since people use the space for eating.

In the same vein, stair railways, elevator buttons and doorknobs should also be disinfected. Conference tables should be wiped down before each meeting. Tables and chairs will also need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

Provide hand sanitizer

Having easy access to hand sanitizer will promote good health among employees. That’s why the Healthy Workplace Project recommends making hand sanitizer easily available in “high traffic areas—such as elevator banks, ATM’s and restrooms.” Provide sanitizer in the break rooms—for the reasons mentioned above—and near copy machines, which attracts a lot of daily activity. Also place sanitizer in the reception area for guests, since it’s likely they’ll be shaking hands with someone at some point.

Promote good handwashing

Fighting infection isn’t a one-person job. Remind your coworkers to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. The CDC recommends that you wash your hands (including between your fingers and under fingernails) with warm water for at least 20 seconds, or the length of time it takes to sing two rounds of “Happy Birthday.” For extra protection, turn off the water and open the door using a paper towel. Or, better yet:

Go touch-free

Automated sinks, light systems, hand dryers and toilets can reduce the amount of germs in the restroom by taking touch out of the equation altogether.

Use supplies wisely

Though they may be cleaned more thoroughly than break rooms, restrooms also can’t be hygienic if they don’t have enough paper towels, soap or toilet paper. Of course, if you have cleaning staff circulating the building on a regular basis, restocking low supplies should be part of their routine. But an article from Today’s Facility Manager also recommends using “high capacity” supplies to ensure that these items last for a good length of time.

The article also endorses following Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines: Be aware of the shelf life of your cleaning supplies, and use the oldest products first to maximize their efficiency.

Finally, while it may be tempting to save money by using a cotton rag dipped in a bucket of bleach solution, the site advises to invest in disinfecting wipes, since “bucket solutions become contaminated almost immediately during cleaning, and continued use of the solution transfers increasing numbers of microorganisms to each subsequent surface to be cleaned.”

A vigilant cleaning schedule can lead to a happier, healthier facility. What techniques do you use to fight sickness in the workplace during the colder months?



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