Our Role in Preventing Infections

Washing hands

How many times have we seen signs hanging in restrooms that remind employees to wash their hands before returning to work?

They are present in many types of facilities—particularly in facilities dealing with food service—and while they offer a friendly reminder, they also remind employees that building visitors are entrusting them with their health and well-being.

About two months ago, I witnessed a breach in that trust while at a movie theater. An employee walked out of the bathroom stall, over to the sink, and simply stuck her hands under the water for about one second before walking out and returning to work. There was no use of soap, and no use of hand sanitizer. I followed the employee out, and watched her return to the food service area.

The entire scenario did not sit well with me. Once I got home, I called the movie theater to let the manager know what I saw. He assured me that anyone who leaves the food service area is required to wash their hands in that particular area before returning to work, so the employee would have had to wash her hands either way, even if not in the bathroom. I admit, I don’t remember the entire conversation, but I believe he also told me he would talk to his staff to ensure all employees were following proper hand hygiene protocol.

I know it’s impossible for facility managers and building service contractors to keep tabs on all employees all of the time—at the end of the day, it does boil down to trust. However, it is also our responsibility to ensure they have the proper training to keep our facilities clean and healthy, and also to ensure that they are using the training and knowledge we provide.

This issue of Cleaning and Maintenance Management covers a variety of ways to ensure our teams are doing everything they can to keep building occupants healthy—even when we can’t be there to supervise their every move. As it’s our 2016 Infection Prevention Spotlight issue, our authors cover tips for tackling high-touch surfaces (page 14), green disinfection techniques (page 22), hand hygiene myths (page 26), and back-to-school cleaning protocol for education facilities (page 24). Hopefully these tips and tricks help to improve policies, knowledge, training, and trust within the buildings that you and your staff clean and maintain.

Posted On August 1, 2016
Kelly Zimmerman

Kelly Zimmerman

Managing Editor, CMM

Kelly Zimmerman is the managing editor of Cleaning & Maintenance Management. She has experience managing industry-specific content for print and digital formats. She holds a master of science in journalism from Northwestern University. Kelly can be reached at

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