As winter tightens 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 illness, 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 your customers can take to dramatically reduce the chance of their facility experiencing an outbreak. These include implementing proper hand hygiene programs and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of common touch points, work surfaces and restrooms.
There are several other ways your customers can help deter the spread of germs in their facility, too:
- Provide face masks their 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.
- Remind their employees to avoid touching their face, nose or eyes and to stay home if they are feeling sick.
- 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.