No one wants to think about germs lurking around the office, but the reality is they are everywhere. Office cleaning and disinfection are crucial to keeping your team members healthy and your facility in proper order.
Seasonal allergies, viruses, and harmful bacteria can wreak havoc on your facility and company by hindering team member performance and attendance. While getting sick is unavoidable every once in a while, you want to maintain good general health practices to ensure your staff stays healthy in the peak allergy and sickness seasons. Plus, when team members are sick and can’t work, it hurts your bottom line.
It could also hurt your reputation if clients come to your office and get sick shortly after their visit. Like getting food poisoning at a restaurant, if a client believes they got sick because of cleaning or disinfecting malpractices, it does not reflect well on your business.
Note: If you are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting your facility, following CDC guidelines for facility and office disinfection is essential.
What’s the Difference Between Cleaning, Disinfecting, And Sanitizing?
When talking about office and facility sanitization protocols, it is crucial to understand the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing the area.
- Cleaning is done with soap and water or detergents. It’s the routine removal of germs and dirt from surfaces. This process removes most virus particles.
- Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill 99.9% of germs left after cleaning and must be registered with the EPA. “Disinfectants should be used after cleaning physical debris and residue away from the surface so that they can come into contact with 100% of the surface. That’s why you often see a “pre-clean” step on disinfectant labels.”
- Sanitizing does much of what disinfecting does but is not guaranteed to remove 99.9% of germs and does not have to be registered with the EPA (although some are). It works best after cleaning surfaces first and then following instructions on the label.
While some areas can simply be cleaned, high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected. How often? Daily is preferable to keep everyone working in that area safe from infections by germs and bacteria.
Germ Hotspots In Your Office Or Facility
High-touch surfaces can become breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria, so it’s important to clean surfaces regularly to keep your team healthy.
What are some hot spots to be aware of? Every facility is different, but some areas to focus your cleaning and disinfection practices on could include:
- Keyboards (and mouse)
- Office phones
- Break room refrigerator handle
- Light switches
- Stair rails
Some sicknesses can also spread from close person-to-person contact. Droplets travel through the air when someone coughs or sneezes and infects another person nearby. Those droplets can remain on surfaces for hours, and if that’s in a commonly used area, it can be problematic.
Regular handwashing is also essential. If a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, there is more chance of transmission and infection. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and regular handwashing reduce the risk of spreading sickness.
One study found that, even in an office with low traffic (employees sitting at their desks and only going to the bathroom and shared kitchen space), sickness can spread quickly within a workday. In this study, 80 employees were tracked, and only one of them “unknowingly received a droplet containing artificial viruses mimicking the cold, the flu and a stomach bug.”
After about four hours, more than 50 percent of surfaces and employees were infected with at least one of the viruses. By the end of the workday, 70 percent of surfaces in the workspace were infected!
Keep Sick Employees Out Of The Office
According to CDC recommended protocols, extra care needs to be taken when someone is sick or is displaying symptoms of infection.
It’s crucial to close off the area recently used by the sick person and not allow anyone in the area until after cleaning and disinfecting. Anyone involved in cleaning the area should take precautions and use gloves during the process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made employers and employees more aware of the potential hazards of being sick and infecting coworkers or clients. Take the safest measures and stay home if you are sick. If a team member comes into the office and is coughing, sneezing, or looks ill, it would most likely be worth it to have them work from home. If they cannot do work from home, consider sending them home to limit the spread of whatever they might have been exposed to.
Allergies: Clean And Disinfect For A Healthier Facility
Some substances can cause hypersensitivity and result in adverse reactions such as brain fog, headaches, skin sensitivities, and even anaphylaxis. While allergic reactions can develop quickly, they sometimes take a while to develop with longer periods of exposure.
There is a wide range of potential allergies in the workplace, but some more common ones can include:
- Perfumes and odorants
- Pollen, dust, and molds
- Wood dust and resins
- Industrial chemicals — such as solvents, bleaches, and adhesives
- Animal dander and debris
- Food allergies
Allergies are often more of a nuisance than a life-threatening health concern but can still impact productivity and meeting deadlines.
“One study reports that Americans lose 3.5 million workdays each year due to allergies. Another suggests that, even when at the office, allergy-afflicted employees are roughly 10% less productive than their healthy counterparts. Further, about nine to ten million doctors’ visits each year are allergy-related, making allergy treatment a major part of your employees’ out-of-pocket medical expenses.” — Canopy Health
It is also recommended to minimize the exposure to potential allergens whenever possible as part of your office or facility cleaning practices.
- Instead of opening windows, run the AC in peak pollen season, fire season, and when the air quality index (AQI)
- Wear gloves and other protective gear when handling chemical solutions (detergents, disinfectants, and sanitizers)
- Use HEPA air filters when possible
- Test for mold with an ERMI test (or something similar)
- Purchase an indoor air quality monitor for the office (to monitor VOCs, levels of particulate matter (pm), and AQI)
- Maintain the highest levels of cleaning protocols with regular office disinfection
Keep productivity up by keeping allergies out of the workplace. The people experiencing less sneezing, wheezing, and runny noses during peak allergy seasons will thank you.
Facility Cleaning And Office Disinfection Protocols
Keep in mind that cleaning protocols will differ between facilities. For instance, a medical facility will utilize more stringent cleaning practices than a financial planning office with a small staff that communicates with clients through phone calls and video conferences.
You can provide disinfecting wipes for employees and have them available throughout the facility. When everyone helps to wipe down high-touch surfaces throughout the day, it can help reduce germ buildup.
Don’t skimp on tissue boxes, either. Having tissues around your facility will help minimize using hands and clothing as sneeze guards.
If your team members are responsible for cleaning, make sure they are appropriately trained to label, store, and use the proper chemicals. In addition, your team could undergo training on when and how to use personal protective equipment.
Comply with OSHA’s standards on:
Whether you employ a janitorial staff yourself or have a contract with a cleaning service, it’s crucial to protect the cleaning staff. It’s also vital that everyone is on the same page about cleaning procedures and protocols.
The CDC recommends implementing safety measures to protect any workers who are at an increased risk of coming into contact with a virus. In addition, the workers also need protection from the toxic effects of cleaning products.
Anyone working in these environments should be adequately trained in using chemicals, cleaning equipment, and cleaning agents. This includes the proper labeling and storage of these substances. In addition, the janitorial staff needs to be trained in using personal protective equipment. These include gloves, goggles, masks, and hearing protection.
To protect your company and the cleaning service, sign a service-level agreement. This contract will help avoid misunderstandings and spell out responsibilities and expectations for each party.
Maintain Excellent Cleaning Protocols To Keep Your Employees Healthy And Happy
Keeping everyone healthy in the office comes down to more than just good cleaning practices. Coach team members to wash their hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and respect everyone’s space.
When combining thorough cleaning protocols and good personal hygiene, you can create a safer space for your team members and clients who visit your office.
Furthermore, a clean space is more inviting for clients and team members. It will also help keep everyone healthier. Healthy team members don’t have to miss work and are happy to know their employer is looking out for them.
If you could use some help with your office disinfection, our team at Zoe Facility Services would be happy to help! We follow all CDC guidance and use eco-friendly disinfectants. You can relax knowing that we have cleaning protocols covered when working with us.
Contact us today to book a walkthrough!