Cleaning to Reduce Winter Flu Infections in the Workplace

woman coughing

With the onset of winter comes the inevitable plague of winter sniffles, and despite what its name suggests the common cold is not caused by low temperatures!

The reason norovirus and influenza suddenly seem to drop by to say a very unpleasant hello around winter-time is mostly down to the fact that we spend far more time together in confined spaces during the colder months of the year.

Whether you or your staff are travelling into work each morning on public transport or say attending a child’s assembly in a cramped sports hall, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid catching other people’s germs during the winter months risk period.

 

As you will appreciate germs are sneaky do not need to given much opportunity to jump ship and infect someone new.  The result of this is more of your employees turning up to work infected every day.  If this situation is not addressed this means your business could very easily end up significantly impacted by sneezing, snotty staff within no time at all.  This is even more of an issue in businesses where you have employees regularly interacting with the same surfaces.

There are a number of ways to minimise the risk of infection in the workplace.   This can be broken down into the two main focus areas of:

  • Preventative approaches.
  • Cleaning approach.

 

Preventative Approaches

Encourage People to Stay at Home at the First Sign of Flu Symptoms

Illness is often spread very quickly in work environments due to employees’ fear of getting in trouble for taking time off. Some workers worry that they’ll be accused of lying about their illness or shamed for not being sick enough to warrant at day at home.  Although this fear can successfully prevent staff members from taking unnecessary sick days, it can negatively affect those who are genuinely ill and increase the likelihood of other employees falling sick.

 

If you don’t already have a flexible working policy, now could be a good time to introduce one.

When in or approaching flu season reassure your employees that it’s okay to take time off if necessary.  If workers are showing early signs of illness but they don’t feel unwell enough to spend the day in bed, request that they work from home where this is possible rather than bring their germs into the workplace and risk infecting their colleagues.

 

Create a ‘Touch Point’ Cleaning Schedule

In order to minimise the spread of flu during winter, certain areas within the workplace need to be cleaned more frequently than others.

 

Employees are most likely to get ill if they touch objects that have been contaminated by another person’s germs. Below you will find a list of germ hot spots or ‘touch points’ that are regular culprits:

 

  • Door handles
  • Elevator buttons
  • Escalator handrails
  • Stair railings
  • Bathroom taps
  • Coffee machines
  • Fridge handles
  • Phone handsets

 

By creating  a ‘tough point’ cleaning schedule you are ensuring that these surfaces are disinfected on a regular basis.

 

Introduce Hand Sanitiser Throughout the Office

 

If hand sanitiser dispensers are good enough for hospitals and medical centres, they’re good enough to help protect your workplace.

Attaching sensor operated dispensers to the walls of your premises can help to encourage employees to keep their hands clean. If dispensers are impractical, place sanitiser containers in kitchens, break rooms, offices and any other frequently-used areas.

 

Cleaning Approach

 

You can take cleaning standards up a notch by embracing hired professional cleaning equipment. Not only can industrial cleaning tools stop germs in their tracks, they can also save you time and money.

 

Carpet Cleaning (Professional Vacuum Cleaners)

 

Dirty carpets and flooring are an absolute haven for bacteria, viruses, and dust mites. Thanks to a little thing called gravity the floor is where the majority of human detritus ends up, whether that is skin flakes or snot, and if you let it build up it can be very unpleasant indeed.

Vacuuming alone can help alleviate the problem somewhat, but to really rid your workplace of enough bugs to make a difference you’ll have to take a more thorough approach to your winter cleaning regime.

For carpeted areas you will probably want to combine:

  • The regular use of an professional vacuum cleaner to really get the germs and grime out of there..
  • Use of use lab tested anti-bacterial products which specifically target influenza and norovirus. This is because Flu viruses can survive in carpets and soft furnishings for up to 12 hours.

To help you please take a look at our blog all about how to clean a carpet in winter.

 

Hard Floor Area Cleaning (Scrubber Dryers & Steam Cleaners)

 

Hard floor areas are best treated using scrubber dryers or steam cleaners. Here at Clean Sweep we see a lot of steam cleaner hire from hospitals, care homes, and schools, as they are known to get in deep where other cleaning methods cannot.

A deep steam clean will physically remove the dirt and germs from your surfaces, but this is only half the job, as it doesn’t actually kill anything. If you fail to then sanitise and disinfect your flooring all you’ve done is spread the viruses around a little, and it seems they’re quite capable of doing that all by themselves.

As with carpeted areas lab tested anti-bacterial product should be used in conjunction with industrial cleaning equipment for the most thorough clean possible, as the more bugs you wipe out, the fewer flu-filled phone calls you’ll get from your employees over the winter.

If you consider the productivity costs of a large number of your workforce phoning in sick when compared to that of hiring industrial cleaning equipment, you’ll see that giving your workplace thorough cleaning in winter  makes real economic sense.

There are of course many other things you should do in addition to cleaning your floor, but if you treat all of your hard and soft surfaces with the same thorough cleaning regime as those we’ve discussed here, you’ll stand a far better chance of keeping your workforce in tip top shape during flu season.

 

What to do Next

From steam cleaners to pressure washers, there are countless tools designed to deep clean surfaces and leave them fresh and sanitised.

 

If you’d like to find out how professional cleaning tools can transform your business and reduce absenteeism during flu season, please get in touch with our friendly and helpful Clean Sweep team.

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