by Michael Kupneski/Procter & Gamble Professional
Seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, but the flu virus is most common during the fall and winter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sick employees cost you money and unplanned absences can cause decreases in productivity. This winter, make infection prevention a top priority to protect your customers and employees from the flu and other diseases that can lead to serious health conditions. Follow these tips to create a clean and hygienic environment in your stores.
Educate and Train Staff—Provide routine, formal trainings to educate staff on their role in infection prevention. Develop cleaning protocols to educate your employees and cleaning staff on the difference between cleaning and disinfecting and how these processes impact the spread of infection. Cleaning is the process of removing soil from a surface as soil can harbor germs, while disinfecting is the process of killing the germs. Cleaning well allows disinfecting agents to work more effectively.
Create a Cleaning Checklist—Follow your training with tools to help staff maintain a clean store. Put together a checklist inspection sheet to help ensure that every task is completed each and every time.
Clean High-Touch Areas—Germs are pervasive in our environment and are easily spread through surfaces and contact with others. Clean and disinfect all high-touch areas such as shelves, check-out counters, restrooms, breakrooms, floors, and deli and bakery counters daily. Pay added attention to high-touch surfaces that are often missed, such as door handles in the frozen or bakery aisles, shopping carts and baskets, sink faucets, countertops, cash registers, light switches or toilet handles. Consistently clean and disinfect these areas throughout the day to help get rid of germs. Additionally, be sure to clean and sanitize mops and other cleaning tools to prevent cross contamination.
Promote Hand Washing—Hand washing is one of the most important steps that everyone can take to help fight the spread of germs, bacteria and disease. Create and enforce proper hand washing protocol to reduce germs and keep employees accountable. Also, ensure hand soap and hand sanitizer dispensers are well-stocked and accessible for employees and guests alike.
Restroom Cleaning—Restrooms contain a dozen or more highly touched objects like door handles, toilet seats, urinals, faucets and sinks, flushing levers, counters, partitions and soap, paper and feminine hygiene dispensers. According to the CDC, if a patron touches one or more contaminated surfaces and then touches an area on his or her face, there is a greater chance for transmission of human microbial pathogens. Since restrooms can potentially harbor these bacteria and viruses, it is critical that they be cleaned regularly and correctly.
Get it Right the First Time—To simplify cleaning and disinfecting tasks while increasing efficiencies, use EPA-registered multipurpose products designed to clean a broad range of task areas and disinfect in one step. Product labels should indicate what bacteria and viruses a multipurpose product or stand-alone disinfectant is effective against. Train staff to follow label instructions for proper usage and dwell times. Products that are formulated to remove a broad range of target soils and disinfect simultaneously, such as the 3-in-1 Spic and Span® Disinfecting All-Purpose Spray and Glass Cleaner and Comet® Disinfecting Cleaner with Bleach, can help get the job done right the first time while also saving time and money.
Proper Dwell Time: Read Labels!—Whether using a multipurpose product or a stand-alone disinfectant, the solution must be left on surfaces as indicated on the label instructions in order to be most effective. Cleaning professionals should avoid simply spraying and wiping and instead read and follow label instructions carefully, regardless of brand. Products are only effective when used properly.
Clean and Sanitize to Prevent Cross-Contamination—Cleaning tools, such as scouring pads, brushes, mops and scrapers, can be sources of cross-contamination. Put procedures into place to properly clean and sanitize tools regularly.
Illnesses such as colds, flu, stomach upsets, and headaches are the most common cause of short-term employee absences, according to ISSA. Lost work day (absenteeism) is a substantial cost to businesses, leading to an average number of sick days per employee per year of 7.7 days in the U.S. Health-related lost productive time (LPT) costs U.S. employers $225.8 billion per year and unplanned absences caused employers indirect costs due productivity/output decreases of 54 percent and a 39 percent drop in sales/customer service. Follow these guidelines to create a clean and comfortable store that keeps your employees and customers productive and healthy.
Michael Kupneski is the R&D section head for Procter & Gamble Professional. He is responsible for all formula design, technology development and process development for P&G Professional’s air care, hard surface cleaners and dish products globally.