Keeping the workplace clean can inhibit the spread of communicable diseases. In addition to limiting exposure to the new strain of coronavirus—known as COVID-19—taking the following steps can help prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses.
1. Wash Your Hands
Emphasize hand-washing year-round and highlight it during flu season. Creatively keep the need fresh on employees’ minds.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps to avoid the spread of germs. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Remind employees when to wash their hands, including:
- After using the bathroom.
- Before, during and after food preparation.
- Before eating food.
- After blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
- After caring for someone who is sick or after changing a child’s diaper.
- After handling pets or other animals or their food and waste.
- After touching garbage.
Employees should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain 60 per cent to 95 per cent alcohol, but washing with soap and water is preferable, particularly if hands are visibly dirty.
How can employers help? Employers should provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace and ensure that adequate supplies are maintained.
Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene. Employers should also consider providing tissues and touch-free trash bins.
In non-healthcare settings, sodium hypochlorite (bleach/chlorine) may be used at a recommended concentration of 0.1% or 1,000ppm (1 part of 5% strength household bleach to 49 parts of water). Alcohol at 70-90% can also be used for surface disinfection. Surfaces must be cleaned with water and soap or detergent first to remove dirt, followed by disinfection.
2. Practice Sneezing and Coughing Etiquette
Considering how similar viruses spread, people infected with COVID-19 may be spreading the virus through respiratory secretions when they cough or sneeze, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 as the outbreak investigation continues.
Previous outbreaks of coronavirus have spread through close contact with sick people. A critical time to practise good hygiene etiquette is when you are sick, especially when coughing or sneezing.
To help prevent the spread of germs:
- Avoiding coughing or sneezing into your hands.
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
- Putting used tissues in a wastebasket.
3. Clean Your Workstation
Employers should encourage employees and housekeeping staff to routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as keyboards, remote controls, desks, countertops and doorknobs.
Will regular cleaning products kill the bug? According to WHO (World Health Organisation), coronaviruses are among “the easiest to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product.” But emerging viral pathogens are less common and predictable than established pathogens, so few EPA-registered disinfectant products specifically target them.
Use cleaning agents that are usually used to clean work surfaces, doorknobs and countertops and follow the directions on the label. Provide disposable wipes so that workers can easily wipe down commonly used surfaces.
Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you are ill, try to distance yourself from others so you do not spread your germs.
Cleaning should always start from the least soiled (cleanest) area to the most soiled (dirtiest) area in order to not spread the dirt to areas that are less soiled.
If you need Hygiene Specialist to clean your work surfaces, contact us for a qoute.