A risk management plan is essential for any business.
A thorough plan can be established by identifying and assessing all risks and then developing strategies to manage them.
One risk that is commonly overlooked, but should be accounted for, is facility disinfection.
Unkempt surfaces are a breeding ground for disease and bacteria.
A facility that is not properly cleaned can lead to adverse effects such as illness, lost productivity and a damaged brand.
For instance, a food-borne illness outbreak can cost a restaurant thousands of dollars and even force it to shut down.
Beyond costly legal fees, an establishment will encounter negative press, higher insurance rates and lost customers.
By protecting patrons from diseases and viruses, proper disinfection can also enhance a facility’s image.
Here are strategies to minimize the risk of infection and the ensuing damage an outbreak may cause to a business.
Enforce Hand Hygiene
Viruses can spread throughout a facility like a wildfire, especially during cold and flu season.
To limit the amount of sick days and keep business running as usual, heavily promote hand hygiene year round.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing is a “do-it-yourself” vaccine to protect you from getting sick and preventing the spread of germs.
To wash hands correctly, one must lather their hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds and either dry them with a clean towel or let them air dry.
Because handwashing is traditionally a personal decision, enforce a policy requiring employees to thoroughly wash their hands at the start of the day, after using the restroom and before and after preparing food.
Displaying proper handwashing techniques with signage in the bathroom and kitchen areas can also be effective reinforcement for all patrons.
To further encourage hand hygiene, provide premoistened hand sanitizer wipes to enable people to clean their hands when soap and water isn’t available.
Entrance areas, break rooms, the front desk, waiting areas, kitchens and employee stations are all great places to make the wipes accessible.
Premoistened wipes are ideal as they offer the precise dilution to kill 99.9 percent of germs while also preventing cross-contamination.
Taking the extra step to provide hand sanitizing wipes shows customers and employees that the company is invested in their well-being.
Create A Detailed Cleaning Program
A thorough cleaning program enables a facility to look its best while limiting the spread of disease and bacteria.
Specifically outline each cleaning task and provide a detailed description on how to properly complete each function.
Train all employees regarding safety guidelines and how to properly use the equipment and cleaning solutions to eliminate cross contamination.
Cleaning solutions must be allowed to dwell on the surface for the amount of time listed on the package to actually kill viruses and bacteria.
A facility should be thoroughly cleaned once a day, or more depending on the amount of foot traffic.
However, restrooms should be given frequent attention throughout the day as they harbor the most bacteria.
Many people correlate the cleanliness of the restroom to the rest of the facility.
Therefore, it’s important to keep clean restrooms to accurately reflect the image of the company.
People often contract germs in the restroom and then spread it throughout the facility as they go about their day.
Therefore, it is critical to disinfect the commonly touched surfaces frequently.
Restrooms should also be deep cleaned regularly to break down and remove harmful microorganisms.
This can be done by disinfecting the entire restroom including all corners, grout lines, walls, sinks, faucets and toilets.
Use Professional-strength Cleaning Products
There are thousands of cleaning products on the market promising an array of benefits.
However, for common hard surfaces, select a multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant.
An effective multi-purpose cleaner makes it easier on staff to properly disinfect surfaces without having to use a multitude of solutions.
The cleaning solution should have the power to clean, disinfect viruses and bacteria, sanitize, kill fungus, deodorize, degrease and remove stains.
It’s also important that it has the power to kill viruses and bacteria that often lurk in public facilities including:
- Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza A (Swine Flu)
- Influenza A2 Virus
- Salmonella Choleraesuis
- Escherichia coli (E.coli)
- Hepatitis B & C Viruses
- Norwalk Virus
- Staphylococcus aureus – MRSA (HA & CA).
Clean Germ “Hot Spots” Frequently
All surfaces in a facility require cleaning, but hot spots need frequent attention due to increased human contact.
Germ “hot spots” are surfaces that people touch repeatedly throughout the day.
These include door knobs, light switches, phones, railings, faucet handles, coffee pots, keyboards, community kitchen items, etc.
Require cleaning staff to disinfect these surfaces multiple times per day, especially during cold and flu season.
In addition, arm staff with disinfecting wipes and encourage them to wipe down their personal surfaces daily to reduce the spread of germs.
Germs and bacteria will always be present in a public facility.
However, incorporating proper disinfection techniques into your risk management plan can greatly reduce their impact on the business and brand.
It also demonstrates to patrons and customers that you are serious about their health and safety.
Kristen Foth is marketing communications manager for ITW Professional Brands. ITW Professional Brands manufactures and markets products for industrial and institutional hygiene markets. Primary industries and distribution channels are industrial MRO, JanSan and food service. The brand portfolio contains five well-known industry brands including SCRUBS premoistened wipes, Spray Nine disinfectants and degreasers, DYKEM industrial marking products, Dymon specialty cleaning products and Atlantic Mills disposable food service wipers. For more information, visit www.ITWProfessionalBrands.com.