Now that the holidays are over, everyone is back to work (or school). Which means one thing: It’s flu season.
The flu is most often spread during the winter months when people spend more time indoors. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the 2017 flu season might be more severe than usual, especially for young children and older adults.
According to the CDC, employers lose 225.8 billion (or $1,685 per employee) each year in productivity losses from absent employees. Facilities managers can help mitigate some of these losses by taking extra care this flu season to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces. Here are some tips:
- Identify surfaces and locations in your building(s) that occupants frequently come into contact with.
80 percent of illness-causing infections are spread through touch, according the CDC. The best way to prevent flu from spreading is to target commonly-touched surfaces. Start by thinking about what your occupants are likely to touch in a given day. For example:
- Do they use doorknobs and elevator buttons when they come in the building?
- Do they type on their keyboards, answer their phones, and sit at their desks?
- Do they use the countertops and sinks in the breakroom?
- Add additional cleaning rotations for these high-touch surfaces
Instruct your team on which surfaces they should target the most.
How FMX can help: You can use facilities management software like FMX to schedule these cleaning rotations. Your maintenance team will be able to view these tasks on their personal calendars, and they will know immediately when they are assigned to a task. You can also use FMX to send out reminders before these tasks are due (and when they are overdue).
- Make sure you clean soft surfaces as well
Carpets, curtains, and upholstery are often overlooked during cleaning rotations because they don’t appear dirty, but flu viruses can survive on soft surfaces for up to 12 hours.
- Choose disinfectants over all-purpose cleaners
All-purpose cleaners are designed to remove dirt and grime, not germs. In fact, just using a cleaner might make the problem worse. You may just be moving germs around, which is the opposite of what you want to do. Disinfectants, on the other hand, are designed to kill bacteria and viruses (like the ones that cause the flu).
- Choose the right disinfectant
You should also consider what kind of disinfectant would be most appropriate for your facilities. Arguably the most common disinfectant is chlorine bleach. The benefit of bleach is that it is cheap and effective. However, the chlorine in bleach is a respiratory irritant and can aggravate breathing conditions like asthma, especially in small spaces. Chlorine is also corrosive and may damage surfaces over time.
Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) disinfectants are sustainable products which are less irritating to lungs, less corrosive to surfaces, and just as effective as bleach. However, AHP disinfectants are often more expensive. Here’s a quick guide about the common types of disinfectants.
- Develop and follow cleaning best practices
In order for some disinfectants to be effective, they must be in contact with a surface for a certain length of time and they often must remain wet during that period. For example, bleach should remain wet on a surface between 1-10 minutes for it to be fully effective. Always refer to the product label for instructions on how to properly use disinfectants.
How FMX can help: You can use FMX to build checklists for your employees to follow during cleaning tasks. You can require assignees to check off each step before they can close out a task. You can also give them the option to record their progress on a task and then close it out at a later time.
- Partner with your Human Resources department (or other organization-wide administrative department) to remind occupants about proper hand washing and discourage sick occupants from coming to work to prevent spreading illnesses.
Your organization can post signs or send out company-wide emails, for example.
How FMX can help
FMX’s simple interface and powerful capabilities make it easy to schedule janitorial and other planned maintenance tasks. You can also prioritize tasks based on need, view each and every task your team members are working on, create checklists, store important documents and other information, and keep track of time and money spent.
You can also use FMX to manage your inventory. FMX provides a unique QR barcode for every asset, and enables facilities staff to save time by scanning codes from any smartphone or tablet to adjust inventory quantities, obtain asset maintenance procedures and history, and more.
Allison is a product marketing manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not writing marketing content, she is likely hiking with her dog or cooking delicious Italian food.