The difference between cleaning and disinfecting the office could be the difference in preventing significant employee absenteeism during the coming months.
As health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn of the possibility of a bad flu season in 2017-18, now may be a good time for employers to prepare precautionary measures to reduce flu-related absenteeism.
During the past several months, Australia has been hit hard by a flu strain that is known for causing severe illness. And clusters of the H3N2 flu strain are already popping up across America.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen but there’s a chance we could have a season similar to Australia,” Dr. Daniel Jernigan, influenza chief at CDC, told The Associated Press in late September.
Because of the way that the flu virus is transmitted, the workplace is one of the most risky places for people to be exposed.
And the cost of employees coming to work sick and infecting others, or missing work altogether costs American employers billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.
Flu season begins as early as October and November and can continue as late as May. However, it usually peaks in the U.S. between December and February.
“It’s important to disinfect the common surfaces that people touch and the places airborne viruses can land after people cough and sneeze – especially during the peak transmission times,” says Chris Grot, a district manager for OpenWorks, one of the nation’s leading facility cleaning franchise companies.
“But there is a big difference between cleaning and disinfecting,” Grot adds.
A flu virus can live and potentially infect people for up to 48 hours after being left behind on a surface, according to CDC documents. Although the flu virus can only survive on a person’s hands for three to five minutes, if other people touch a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth – they can be exposed to the flu.
“It’s important to understand that cleaning is just the first step in the process of keeping a workplace germ free,” says Grot. “Cleaning removes organic matter, salts and soils – but to disinfect an area, you need to follow up with a germicidal agent. And that’s what we do.”
Grot advises being vigilant and thorough as you survey areas to disinfect in your workplace. “Sometimes people don’t think of disinfecting things like light switches, door handles, drawer handles, faucets and even the walls in some high traffic areas.”
He also suggests placing alcohol-based hand rubs throughout the workplace so that employees can sanitize their hands frequently throughout the workday.
“Our job is to help employers keep their employees on their jobs during flu season,” Grot says. “An investment in keeping the office germ free more than pays for itself in staff productivity and loss prevention.”
For more information, visit openworksweb.com.