As winter begins to unleash its chilly grip, we’re reminded of the impact cold and flu season has on facility health, safety and productivity. Taking a proactive approach is critical to reducing the incidence of cold, flu, COVID and other virus outbreaks during the fall and winter seasons. 

To understand what preventative measure and advance planning should be in place it’s important to understand the nature of these diseases and their transmission in indoor spaces. 

Cold & Flu 101

The flu (influenza) is a contagious virus anyone can get, and it’s easily passed from person to person. Flu and cold viruses are spread through facilities when people cough or sneeze near others. They can also be easily spread through droplets of the virus landing on commonly used surfaces – handrails, door handles, elevator buttons and equipment controls and control panels are all good examples. 

Symptoms of the flu and the common cold can be very similar but, unlike a case of the common cold, the flu can lead to serious health problems like pneumonia. With either malady, it doesn’t take long for them to ravage a workplace, or a residential setting in healthcare or education environments that can result in a complete facility shutdown. In fact, within two to four hours the virus can spread like wildfire with 40-60 percent contamination through commonly touched surfaces. 

Sometimes areas that seem least likely can carry an extraordinary degree of contamination. For example, did you know there are over 20,000 germs on the average desk? These and many other surfaces in a facility have alarmingly high levels of bacteria making them a perfect breeding ground for germs to thrive in. 

Stopping Outbreaks BEFORE They Start

The good news is, there are two key steps you can take to dramatically reduce the chance of your facility experiencing an outbreak. These include implementing proper hand hygiene programs and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of common touch points, work surfaces and restrooms. Download our free Cold and Flu Outbreak Management How-To Guide to learn more. 

There are several other ways you can help deter the spread of germs in your facility, too:

  1. Provide face masks that employees can use as they recover from illness should they still have a cough, or to wear as a preventative measure during cold and flu season.
  2. Remind employees to avoid touching their face, nose or eyes and to stay home if they are feeling sick. 
  3. Post hand washing and hand sanitizing reminders in washrooms areas and place sanitizer dispensing units at frequent intervals in every workspace. Download your Healthy Workplace Communications Kit here. 

Exploring Innovation

Implement new technologies like electrostatics and air purification. Electrostatic disinfecting uses less product to cover more area and is four times faster than manual disinfection. This type of system has revolutionized disinfecting in a wide range of facilities, particularly in the health and education sectors but also in commercial office, retail, and high-traffic venues.

Air purification units are another example of advanced cleaning technology which has vastly improved health and wellness in facilities worldwide. If you’re considering how new technology can assist in keeping your facility clean, healthy and safe, ask our experts for a demo of the latest products. 

With so many new alternatives to traditional cleaning and sanitizing, it can be difficult and even overwhelming to decipher what’s right for your facility. From tips to products, program design and training, our cleaning and hygiene experts have you covered to ensure your facility stays healthy and productive year-round.