Many people working in offices and other corporate and commercial environments where they are continually in close proximity with other people regularly use hand sanitizers. Some even sneeze into their elbows to help avoid contracting and transmitting colds and influenza. Some companies actually enforce their policies of not allowing employees to work when they have any communicable disease, including the common cold. However, keeping illness away in offices and other workplaces is more than just making an attempt to avoid the germs of other people. Sometimes, the offices themselves can cause illness.
Inspect Ventilation Systems
In 1976 at a Legionnaires’ convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 34 out of 221 people sickened with bacteria from an air conditioning cooling tower died. The incident is the source of the name of the bacterial pathogen called Legionella. There have been other outbreaks including one in August of 2015 that killed 12 people exposed to it through air conditioning systems at five different public places. Heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) systems should be regularly and thoroughly inspected by trained professionals to eliminate the possibility of an outbreak of Legionella infections occurring.
Use Professional Cleaning Services
Most anyone can scrub toilets in the bathroom at work or wipe down countertops and tables in break rooms. However, not everyone is trained in sanitizing surfaces adequately to reduce the risk of viral and bacterial contamination. Some professional cleaning services have been trained and possibly certified to not just clean offices and other workplaces but to sanitize them as well. Companies that employ in-house janitorial services should require training and annual refresher courses in proper sanitization methods to use when cleaning bathrooms and kitchen areas. If regular employees must be called upon to clean these areas, protocols should be developed to control pathogens as much as possible.
Mold is everywhere, but some molds are pathogenic. Some molds grow into colonies that release dangerous mycotoxins. Mold remediation is the only way to successfully control it. Not all molds are dangerous. It takes a professional mold remediation expert to determine that. In-house attempts at remediating mold usually results in spreading the spores throughout the structure. Contrary to popular belief, it takes more than just a soaking of bleach water to destroy mold.
Ice Machine Sanitation
Ice machines have become popular in break rooms in offices. They are also rarely emptied and sanitized. No one thinks that a container that holds ice can also contain infectious microbes. Most break room ice machines have a scoop that is rarely sanitized even though it is handled by bare hands and inserted back into the ice for the next person to use. Some people just scoop their unwashed drink containers in the ice for refills. Emptying the ice machine followed by visual inspection often reveals a buildup of microbial slime that may or not be pathogenic.
Hazardous Materials Training
Every office should have strict policies and protocols in place for handling any and all hazardous materials. The materials could be anything from liquids and powders to aerosols and objects or even bodily fluids. Employees sometimes get sick and vomit or get injured. Clean up is more than just grabbing a mop and a bucket. Proper hazardous materials training should be provided to staff to equip them to handle any hazardous materials they may encounter during the performance of their duties. Courses from National Environmental Trainers can prepare employees for situations like this.
Taking steps to protect all staff from pathogens and hazardous materials protects the work force and protects the bottom line at the same time. These tips can help you get started.