We have all heard of it or have used it, I’m sure 99% of companies use it now but let’s try and make that 100%.
Many days are lost through illness transmitted at work each year globally. Having a good cross infection policy can be good for you to attract more business. It’s good for your customers 2 fold; a nice hygienic place to work and cost saving due to lack of employee illness.
The cost to the customer argument
It’s easy to see that the cost of an employee off sic Vs the cost of cleaning staff performing a cross infection policy is a no-brainer when it comes to cost. The cost is far less to implement a good cross infection policy. If an employee earns £20k a year and needs to be off sic for 3 weeks in the year, that’s £270 in SSP alone. Now if we add to that what it costs to cover that person’s absence. The cost of lost business/production/administration etc. Times this all by the number of employees and we end up with a large amount.
The extra time/cost taken to carry out a good cross infection policy conscientiously is considerably less. Even if an employee works on their own for only a few hours a week, over time a policy will soon win out. The only argument a customer could use would be if their employees never got ill. I don’t think anybody really would suggest this. So it makes sense to provide a great, safe and happy environment for your customer’s staff to work. It is cost effective for the customer and also the responsible approach.
A couple of examples of how an infection could travel
Dog faeces on shoes
It’s estimated that 1000 tonnes of dog faeces are produced each day, and may contain up to 23 million faecal coliform bacteria. In short, it’s not uncommon for humans to come into contact with it and it’s pretty nasty stuff. A staff member loves her shoes, she doesn’t want to risk scratching or scuffing them on the chair spider when she sitting down to work.
So with this in mind, she has another pair at her desk ready to change into on arrival. In the changing of shoes, she touches the sole of the pair she had worn to work. Not aware she had walked through dog dirt on her way into work. Being a methodical, hygienic person she then proceeds to the toilet to wash her hands as a matter of course. So the issue is how many things will she need to touch before washing her hands. Will she touch the same things again on the return journey?
Norovirus on handles to light switches
A customer’s staff member is in the early stages of the infection. Being a conscientious type, he felt a little under the weather but was sure it would soon pass. He thinks it may be a good move to have a medicated sweet to ease the symptoms. So as you can see the virus has now gone from mouth to finger. It’s out of the body and on its journey. He then goes to the archive room switching on the light with a big press.
The virus has now travelled from a person’s stomach to a light switch where it is ready to carry on its journey. It isn’t hard to envisage the same thing happening to another employee in reverse. Before you know it this action has multiplied through the whole office/school/work area.
Serviced Dust control mats
We need Dust control mats as part of our cross infection policy. They take a huge amount of soil and water off a person’s shoes before they get into the building. If this is already part of the building service plan. Make contact details available in the cross infection policy you write. This will make it easy should team members need to contact the provider. It needs to be a serviced mat e.g. Cleaned on a regular basis. Not a one-time purchase that will never get serviced from one year to the next. A dirt collector that will be stopping you achieving your good hygiene goal.
The way we can achieve area separation with the use of different colours equipment and cloths. This stops the transmission of dirt from one area to another. If no colour coding system was in place, a cloth used to clean a toilet bowl, for example, could be then used to clean a sink draining board. The horror that scenario conjures up in the mind is overwhelming. If we use different colours for areas a visual warning will say to the operative ‘I can’t use this cloth here’ or ‘I can’t use that mop & bucket here’ Create a barrier by the use of colours. Different areas with different colours, stop infections spreading from one area to another.
Cleaning and storing your Equipment
Your staff need to be diligent behind the scenes. They need to make sure equipment is cleaned correctly, which should be part of your policy. Clear detailed step by step instructions. Should you have good commercial cleaning software
, this policy can be stored there as a recap for team leaders performing any onsite training.
How things can go horribly wrong
It’s all too common for an operative to adhere well to the policy while under the customer spotlight, we need to make sure this good practice continues in the cleaners store room.
Hanging cloths out to dry and letting them touch and overlap.
Storing all mops in one bucket.
Not having colour coded rubber gloves if you don’t use disposable.
Correct cleaning of equipment.
Poor or no operative training.
It’s not hard to draw up a policy and implement a system. If a customer has specific needs that need sharing with the whole team, one of easiest ways to do that is with commercial cleaning software with good features.
Gary Fage’s article makes for good further reading, especially regarding the amount of soil brought into a building. It can be downloaded at the Janitorial Express blog