CHTMAG.COM HYGIENE FEATURE HOW TO MAKE HYGIENE ROUTINE Managing the risk of infectious outbreaks is not just about deep cleaning and disinfectant, says James White, managing director of Denis Rawlins Ltd. To be truly cost-effective, routine cleaning needs to be hygienic Many diseases are spread when infected individuals touch objects such as keyboards, desk phones, ledges, counters, doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, and other hightouch SEPTEMBER 2016 11 CLEANING HYGIENE TODAY areas. Germs and pathogens are transferred in many ways, not least when our fingers in turn touch our eyes, nose, and face. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that, without thinking about it, we touch our eyes, nose, and face about 16 times per hour. And for some, it’s as much as 100 times per hour. Effective cleaning of surfaces, including high-touch surfaces, significantly decreases the number of pathogens present and reduces the spread of infection. This is just one of the reasons why we advocate a science-based approach to cleaning. We look at the cleaning needs within a building environment, and then recommend the right equipment for the job, based on the evidence of its effectiveness. Testing for cleanliness is crucial, and it’s now easy and affordable using meters that measure ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the universal energy molecule found in all animal, plant, bacterial, yeast and mould cells. We test before and after cleaning to show how effective a cleaning process is. This approach is important not just for common touch points and higher-risk environments such as toilets and washrooms, kitchens and food service areas. All areas, including floors, should be cleaned hygienically given the risk of cross-contamination. After poor hand hygiene, there’s nothing that spreads contamination more reliably than the ‘trusty’ old mop. Up to 70 per cent of all floor surfaces are still ‘cleaned’ with a mop and bucket. Yet most soil is merely rearranged or ends up back on the floor as the mop head is doused Facilities managers are paying greater attention to the risk of infectious outbreaks – from the winter vomiting bug to virulent strains of ‘flu. But too many cleaning teams seem to think the solution is more disinfectant or more frequent deep cleans. They’re wrong on both counts. During an outbreak, or at times of increased risk, sterilising handwashes and other special measures – chiefly, higher-frequency cleaning – should be considered. After an infectious episode in a building, a specialist decontamination clean may be required. But effective routine cleaning should be one of the the first lines of defence that prevents contamination taking hold and spreading in most cases. The problem is that ineffective and antiquated cleaning practices are putting people at unnecessary risk. Cleaning solutions and disinfectants are already often overused or misused. The first law of cleaning is to remove soil, organic matter and other possible contaminants. Yet in toilets, food service, and general cleaning, the practice is often to disinfect rather than remove dirt. Excessive chemical use also leaves residue on surfaces to which dirt adheres, so that they soil more quickly and are harder to clean. Over-reliance on chemical disinfectants is distinctly unhealthy, given the effects on air quality and allergic reactions. This is ironic, given the focus of employers and facilities managers, on the wellbeing agenda. Similarly, vacuuming may seem adequate on the surface, yet fail to limit the spread of infection or even make matters worse. Filtration systems are crucial to indoor air quality but vacuums vary in their ability to retain minute particles – from dust and mites to mould, bacteria or even viruses. Often a mix of tub and upright machines of variable age, make and specification are employed in a single building, be it a hotel or office block. We advise standardising on high-filtration performance. Four-level filtration removes 99.9 per cent of particles of 1 micron or larger. A modern topperforming backpack (with ULPA filtration) captures a highly impressive 99.999 per cent of particles down to 0.12 microns (that’s tobacco smoke, carbon black, viruses, etc), while also saving operatives the musculoskeletal strains of a stooped, backwards and forwards motion. When it comes to the economic cost of staff sickness, employers have become increasingly aware of the impact of infectious outbreaks. Seasonal flu alone exacts a heavy economic toll each year in lost productivity and earnings. The damage from high-profile infectious outbreaks, due to norovirus, or other gastrointestinal illnesses, can be reputational as well as financial for employers, colleges and hospitals, in addition to the impact on people’s health. Toilets and washrooms often consume up to 70 per cent of a building’s cleaning budget.” Scheduling more deep cleans is a dubious preventive strategy. Periodic deep cleaning is an admission that routine cleaning is inadequate. A cleaning plan that delivers effective hygienic cleaning daily, does away with the need for deep cleaning.
Cleaning Hygiene Today September 2016
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