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, there has been increased worry about the upcoming flu season,” said Troy Bargmann, president, GSF USA. “Fortunately, there are simple steps that facilities can take in preparation to help 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 outline a detailed cleaning plan that specifies cleaning tasks and frequencies. If an outbreak occurs, increase disinfecting. Most importantly, train staff to use cleaners, disinfectants and tools correctly. Improper cleaning can actually spread germs around and cause lapses in cleanliness. Providing employees with the proper personal protective equipment and investing in comprehensive training will ensure consistent cleaning performance and help address pathogens.
- Focus on common touchpoints – The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. During flu season, it’s important to clean and disinfect high touchpoints regularly to limit the spread of pathogens. These include door handles, light switches, sink handles, elevator buttons and any other surfaces that are touched by many people frequently.
- Increase daytime cleaning – Daytime cleaning has become more common during the pandemic and is an effective strategy for combatting the flu as well. Cleaning during the day allows a facility to increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting. It also enables cleaning staff to stay on top of tasks while building occupants are present and its needed most, rather than waiting until the end of the day. Just as important is the fact that daytime cleaning gives building occupants the peace of mind that the facility prioritizes cleanliness and health.
- Encourage handwashing and provide hand sanitizer in key areas – Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to kill germs – including influenza. According to the CDC, scrubbing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is key. Unfortunately, many people skip handwashing altogether, just use water or don’t wash with soap for long enough. Placing signage in all handwashing areas reminds building occupants and visitors how to effectively wash hands. In addition, placing accessible hand sanitizer at entrances and throughout the facility, such as near elevators, is another way to help reduce the spread of germs.
- Enforce staff and visitors to stay home when sick – Coming to work or school sick is no longer acceptable. Pre-pandemic, many people would do so and were unaware of the consequences and impact. However, doing so puts all building occupants at risk of getting sick and potentially starting an outbreak. Prior to flu season, ensure your facility’s sick policy is up-to-date and communicate it to everyone who works in, learns in and maintains the facility. The CDC recommends staying home until 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of medicine, or at least four to five days after symptoms started.