Disinfection – Where do we go from here?

By John Thomas

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one reality that has emerged is that as a nation we are now using more disinfectants, on more surfaces, and more frequently than ever before.  In addition, many of these surfaces were never designed or intended to be disinfected.  Plus, we’re applying the disinfectants through a whole new range of sprayer, fogging and misting systems, many of which weren’t even on the market 6 months ago.  Although the concern for COVID-19 is valid, we do need to be equally concerned about the possible health and environmental impact of the significantly increased exposure to these potent disinfectant chemistries.

As we move to the next, and hopefully final, stage of our battle against the SARS coronavirus, it is a good time to consider the implications of our disinfection practices and look at an emerging concept known as targeted hygiene.  Targeted hygiene fosters a balanced approach of preventing disease transmission with reducing over exposure of the environment to disinfectants and other microbial agents and potentially offers a sustainable strategy for the control of pathogenic microorganisms.

“It is a good time to consider the implications of our disinfection practices and look at an emerging concept known as targeted hygiene.”

During the COVID-19 health crisis, concerns with controlling the spread of disease has resulted in an extraordinary level of disinfection, be it through manual wipes or electrostatic sprayers.  While the cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces is an important component of an effective hygiene program, a risk assessment of possible disease exposure needs to be a part of the decision making process.  The following considerations can help assess risk levels and provide guidance in establishing the appropriate disinfection protocols.

Sites and Surfaces

Cleaning by manual wiping is generally sufficient for surfaces that in contact with a limited number of individuals.  Then as the number of people interacting with these surfaces increases, the addition of a daily or periodic disinfectant application is warranted.  Also, the surfaces themselves can make a big difference in the transmission of infection. Soft surfaces resist disinfection due to their very nature.  At best, we can only hope to achieve some level of sanitizing which is just a reduction of pathogens and again needs to be weighed against the real infection transmission exposure risk.  Variations in the behavior of the specific pathogen and their persistence in the environment plays a role in this analysis.

Cleaning Versus Disinfecting

“Some facilities are attempting to disinfect as if they are in a constant state of outbreak which can potentially result is an overuse of disinfectants.”

During the current COVID-19 crisis, the CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting has always recommended a two level approach.  Basically, when the facility is free of active outbreaks in the facility is to continue to conduct routine cleaning and disinfection using the products typically used with attention being paid to surfaces not normally cleaned on a daily basis.  But, when there is an outbreak, or positive cases are identified, all potentially affected areas need to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly with special attention to all frequently touched surfaces.  However, it has been our experience that some facilities are attempting to disinfect as if they are in a constant state of outbreak which can potentially result is an overuse of disinfectants.

Safety Precautions

Key to the safe use of any of these potent disinfectant chemicals is following the use instructions on the label which provides information on proper dilution, contact times, application methods, and first aid.  Many disinfectants do not have approved label instructions for application via electrostatic sprayers and/or foggers so it is important to get clear, written authorization from the chemical manufacturer prior to their use through these systems.  Furthermore, it is important to insure that proper personal protective equipment is employed during disinfection as there can be significant health hazards, especially where spraying or fogging is involved.

“At Imperial Dade, our corporate commitment to health and wellness allows us the opportunity to assist our customers in establishing targeted hygiene programs appropriate to their facilities and operations.”

Once the current COVID-19 health emergency is brought under control, thought will need to be given as to developing a sustainable approach to maintaining hygienic environments in our schools, healthcare institutions, restaurants, and office buildings.  At Imperial Dade, our corporate commitment to health and wellness allows us the opportunity to assist our customers in establishing targeted hygiene programs appropriate to their facilities and operations. 

Contact your local Imperial Dade sales consultant to learn more about the products, services and programs that are available. Visit us at http://www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you and request a consultation.

John Thomas, Director of Health & Wellness at Imperial Dade, earned a BS in Microbiology from Penn State University and began his career as a microbiologist in the food industry. He has taught high school chemistry and worked for a number of leading chemical companies before joining Imperial Dade. He holds a number of professional certifications including the CMIP (Certificate of Mastery in Infection Prevention) and has completed programs in epidemiology by APIC (Association of Professionals in Infection Control.)

Maintaining Optimal Indoor Air Quality in the Age of COVID-19

Earlier this year, when COVID-19 first started to spread across the country, scientists knew very little about the emerging pathogen. As infections began to rise, experts went about to determine how exactly the disease was spreading. One aspect of transmission that became highly evident was the virus’s ability to spread so effectively in indoor environments.

As research continued and the potential for airborne transmission was realized, concerns arose in the business community on how to safely and effectively manage indoor air quality to protect the health of building occupants.

Coronavirus and the Indoor Workplace

As the threat of indoor air contamination was better understood, the CDC set up guidelines to help businesses modify indoor workspaces in an effort to reduce transmission.

Through the help of these guidelines, it is possible to safely reopen an office or indoor work environment at reduced capacity. Please note that this information is subject to change dependent on a region’s transmission rates.

The Importance of Ventilation and Filtration

One aspect of reducing indoor transmission of COVID-19 is the need for adequate ventilation and filtration. Businesses should consult with their HVAC contractor to ensure that air conditioners, heating systems, and ventilation fans are thoroughly cleaned and operating at maximum effectiveness.

Businesses should also review the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) of all air filtration units operating at their facilities. The higher a MERV rating, the better potential for a filter to remove virus particles from the air. According to the CDC, MERV ≥13 filters are efficient at capturing airborne viruses and removing them from circulating air.

To ensure employees’ health and safety, business owners must make certain all the necessary measures are taken to thoroughly inspect and correct potential ventilation problems for an indoor workspace. This protocol, combined with social distancing measures and the frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces should help reduce the potential for viral contamination and spread in an office environment.

For over 85 years, Imperial Dade has been a leader in the distribution facilities maintenance supplies, chemicals, and cleaning equipment. For professional help in combatting the spread of COVID-19, you can count on Imperial Dade to offer both outstanding customer service and high-quality product solutions for your business. For more information about our products and consultative services, contact us today!

The Hygienic Benefits of Paper Towels Over Hand Dryers in Commercial Restrooms

The secret war between paper towels and hand dryers needs to end in the COVID-19 era. The “health and wellness first” mindset that so many people have developed in the last year has everyone wondering: which product promotes superior hand drying that is both healthy and effective?

The answer may not surprise you if you have followed the news over the years.

You may recall a breakout news story that went viral in the early months of 2018, exhibiting the effects of a Petri dish left to incubate inside of a hand dryer for 48 hours. The student who performed the science experiment shared the photo of the unsightly bacterial colonies that had grown inside the Petri dish on her Facebook page, and the rest is history. The post was shared by 500,000+ people in just a matter of days and covered by local and national news channels and newspapers. This sparked a debate in the scientific community about whether hand dryers were as hygienic as their manufacturers claimed.

Although the news story received national coverage a few years ago, the implications of the experiment’s results have an even bigger impact now that we’re living through a pandemic.

Now more than ever, people everywhere are trying to limit their interaction with harmful germs and bacteria by wearing masks, constantly washing and sanitizing their hands, maintaining social distance guidelines, etc. So, let’s put an end to this debate once and for all. Are hand dryers unhygienic?

The simple answer is yes.

Numerous studies have shown that hand dryers contaminate the surrounding environment by dispersing harmful bacteria and pathogens in the air. The Journal of Applied Microbiology released a study that compared paper towels to warm air dryers and jet air dryers. The results showed that jet air dryers released 1,300 times more bacteria than hand towels. Another study conducted by Tork, an Essity brand, echoed similar results — jet air dryers spread 10 times more germs. A GP Pro infographic found here states that 70 percent of germs released by jet air dryers have a radius of at least four feet. Kimberly-Clark Professional also released an in-depth resource that compares jet air dryers and paper towels on quite a few different factors.

Let’s not forget that in today’s world, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The same study from Tork found that 80 percent of consumers don’t feel safe using unhygienic bathrooms in a COVID-19 world.

The best way to build trust with your customers is to make the switch to paper towels and touch-free towel dispensers. Take a look at these benefits that paper towels offer over hand dryers.

Imperial Dade carries a wide variety of paper towels and dispensers from the leading brands including Victoria Bay. Contact a location near you and request a consultation. View our COVID-19 resources for more tips on creating a healthy environment for all employees and guests at your place of business.

Safety in School Nutrition Programs

Despite different backgrounds, life experiences and age, a common educational experience exists – school foodservice. Whether a student eats in the lunchroom, classroom or simply stops by a grab-and-go kiosk, safety for students is top of mind this fall.

Changing to distance or hybrid learning has changed the way schools provide meals to students, too. Depending on state-by-state regulations, many schools across the nation have not fully returned to in-person instruction. Some schools are providing both to-go bag lunches for home and meals for classrooms. While there are many variables to how schools are managing this, one thing is for sure: School lunches are very important for many students.

Each day, 30 million students are served by the National School Lunch Program, many of whom rely on this offering as a means for nutritious, healthy food.

Automated Labeling for School Meal Programs

This year it is much harder to maintain safety standards with a traditional lunchroom format of service. Schools have adapted by mobilizing staff to bring lunches to classrooms or team up with bus drivers on their routes to deliver to students at home. This delivery style lunch continues coverage, but also increases the importance of proper labeling. Allergies, dietary restrictions and nutrition regulations must continue to be considered – printing these crucial pieces of information clearly on labels makes assessment easy and ensures a safe meal for every student.

Utilizing Clear Labeling for Prep & Food Packaging

Operators are also still focused on serving healthy student meals while taking food allergies and sensitivities into consideration. Changing dietary needs and regulations, compounded with allergies, means school foodservice operators are hypersensitive when it comes to protecting students. The DateCodeGenie® system prints labels for grab-and-go, prep, allergens and more at the touch of a button – and can be customized for your school’s unique needs. Meals can even be individually labeled with student names to ensure safety and prevent mix-ups. Plus, this intuitive system can be controlled from a centralized district or campus location to streamline and save time. Labeling becomes easy, safe and efficient so that you can focus on keeping students safe.

With the Date Code Genie®, school foodservice operators can:
  • Quick-print labels for frequently prepped items
  • Label entire meals or individual portions made for grab-and-go
  • Easily customize labels with school logo, branding and even student names
  • Display ingredients, allergens & nutrition information clearly on labels
  • Control multiple district schools in one place

Multiple label adhesives are available, including a tamper-evident style that assures delivered meals have not been compromised. Date Code Genie systems provide benefits to school foodservice operations both immediately and well into the future.

Visit our website and speak with your Imperial Dade representative about purchasing a Date Code Genie for your school or other foodservice operation.

Which Building Rating System is Right for your Facility?

As the economy starts its slow path to recovery and employees return to the workforce, many are wondering what the future workplace will look like after COVID-19. Organizations across the world have reassessed and revamped sanitation practices, furniture layouts, and protective measures. Still, it’s difficult to determine whether these changes will be effective in creating a safe and healthy work environment without outside professionals’ help. That’s why so many business owners elect to utilize safety rating systems to prepare their establishment in the post-COVID world.

At its core, a safety rating system is designed to help an organization cultivate and maintain a workplace that enhances its occupants’ health and wellness. Take a look at some of the benefits offered by these programs.

No two safety rating systems are the same. Below, we will outline some the differences between the GBAC STAR Facility Rating System and the WELL Health and Safety Rating System to help you make the best choice.

GBAC STAR Facility Rating System

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) rating system, better known as the STAR Facility Accreditation program, is designed to help organizations establish a comprehensive plan for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. Successful completion of the program requires organizations to demonstrate they can prepare, respond, and recover from biological threats, such as the coronavirus.

To earn this accreditation, organizations must meet the 20 different criteria listed in the STAR Program Elements. Organizations that acquire this accreditation meet the gold-standard of cleanliness and safety in their industry. Furthermore, their staff has the knowledge and tools to provide a safe environment for employees and customers alike.

The GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation program is available for organizations across a list of industries — daycares, restaurants, hotels, schools, stadiums, doctor’s offices, etc.

Take the Readiness Assessment test to see how your business holds up or learn more about GBAC here.

WELL Health and Safety Rating System

The WELL Health and Safety rating system focuses on workplace well-being as opposed to strict infectious disease prevention. They take a holistic approach to health and safety by encompassing factors such as comfort and resiliency when developing an effective program.

To earn this rating, organizations must meet 15 out of the 21 possible criteria across five categories:

  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures
  • Health service resources
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Air and water quality management

Once certified, organizations must uphold the strict quality standards year after year to qualify for the rating system’s renewal.

Imperial Dade impacts the cleaning, sanitation, and hygiene portion of each rating system. To learn more about our COVID-19 resources or cleaning and janitorial supplies, contact us today! Visit http://www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you.

How to Get Kids Back in School Safely & Healthier Than Ever

By Jameka Carter

As schools start to reopen, the health and safety of the children have become a top priority. Many schools are starting back up virtually, but plan to bring students back into buildings soon. However, parents are concerned about sending their children to school during a pandemic and want to know what changes will be made to ensure their safety. Teaching kids about healthy habits starts at home, but it doesn’t have to end there. Schools play an important role in educating students as well. By promoting good hygiene, providing hand washing programs and installing proper cleaning supplies, schools can educate and equip children for healthier habits.

Schools must prove they are doing everything they can to keep students safe and healthy while in their care.

40% of parents worry their children will suffer from a lack of hygiene at school. Their parental concerns are based on their children’s experience. 86% of school children avoid using the toilets at school, and nearly half of all parents point to unhygienic conditions at the cause. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Schools must prove they are doing everything they can to keep students safe and healthy while in their care. By insisting that school bathrooms and individual classrooms be properly cleaned and sufficiently supplied with soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer, parents can allay their children’s fears, reduce health-related absenteeism, and create a more relaxed, confident and productive learning environment.

People are aware that handwashing is important, but they don’t make it a habit. It’s time to start teaching students how to wash their hands. Fortunately, teaching handwashing isn’t something schools need to take on alone. There are many programs to help educate children about hand hygiene, from Global Handwashing Day to handwashing programs pointed out by the Center for Disease Control.

Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the doctor, less use of antibiotics, and more time in class.

Handwashing can reduce illnesses and keep kids in school. A recent study shows that kindergartners and first graders in the U.S. are chronically absent more than 10% of days within a school year. The report goes on to say that “students who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read at a grade level by third grade – which makes them four times more likely to drop out of school.” When children are taught how to properly wash their hands, fewer illnesses will occur. Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the doctor, less use of antibiotics, and more time in class.

Imperial Dade offers quality hand hygiene and restroom supplies from top manufactures including Essity, creators of this infographic available for download. Contact your Imperial Dade Representative today for a restroom site survey and product recommendations. Visit http://www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you.

Hiring, Training & Rewarding Employees During COVID-19 (and Beyond)

A discussion with 3 industry leaders

By Vickie Holland

We recently had a round robin discussion with three Jan-San industry leaders. We asked them to weigh in on hiring, training and rewarding employees. We also asked how COVID-19 is changing these processes. Not surprisingly, there was some interesting overlap on the responses. The comments below have been lightly edited for clarity.

What changes are needed in your hiring process during COVID-19

Joseph Patrick Gaither (JPG):  Prior to the outbreak we had been moving to a paperless process and other than the in-person interview had successfully transitioned the process to be online. Moving forward we will conduct all interviews online. Although we feel that you lose some of the personal touch with this approach it is necessary to ensure the safety of our staff.

Melissa Usher (MU):  Arthur Jackson had to make a quick transition in becoming more remote and electronically accessible to our new incoming talent. Pre-COVID, our corporate recruiter would partner with management to hold in-person interviews either at the corporate office or in our client buildings. We would facilitate at least 2 large in-person new hire orientations at the corporate office. We no longer hold new hire orientation in-person. We had to move our interview process to over the phone or Zoom calls. New hire orientation paperwork has moved to DocuSign.

Judy David (JD) We are currently in a hiring freeze.  If we do get permission to hire, we will do screenings online, but in-person interviews will be with just a couple of people, as opposed to the panel style we typically use.   We’ll have to social distance and wear masks throughout.  We’ll also try to make it as paperless as possible. Right now, my focus is more on delivering the necessary disinfection with our current staff.

What are the 3 traits you look for when hiring new custodians?

JD: Some important traits to look for include strong work ethic, dependability, positive attitude and willingness to learn.

JPG: The three traits I value most are #1-Dependability: sustained employment, the ability to maintain professional employment, #2 Work ethic: understanding why we are all here- this is usually a topic of discussion during the work history conversation and #3- Genuine: someone that is honest or sincere. Nobody in our profession is perfect. I look for a staff member that can recognize an issue and engage in problem solving or solutions. But that won’t happen unless we can recognize issues and have that dialogue. I prefer a candidate that is genuine and not constantly trying to sell themselves.

MU: The traits we look for in any new custodian would be attitude/personality, work ethic and work history.

How do you keep your employees motivated?

MU: Motivation starts with the manager or supervisor at the work site. They get to know each of their employees and what makes them tick. They empower their employees by allowing them to have responsibility and flexibility over their day to day tasks. Our managers reward a job well done with pizza parties (as one example). 

JD: I have been known to sometimes dress in costume to motivate our team. I try to make it fun, no pride! Food is also a great motivator! Team breakfasts are great. I had a past program where I hid a note in an area to be cleaned. First custodian to find the note won “Lunch with Judy”. I loved this reward because I was able to sit down and have a quiet one on one chat with an employee and really get to know them. Handwritten thank you notes go a long way. We also like to reward and recognize employees with a leadership position.

JPG: Positive reinforcement! If you don’t recognize the behavior you want, you will get the behavior you recognize. We also do a lot of little things throughout the course of the year to celebrate milestones or recognize a job well done with lunches or water ice in the summer. Honestly the best practice is to be approachable and accessible to the staff, every day. When you walk the buildings always recognize your team members, compliment their work, thank them for showing up every day and doing a good job. Take 2 minutes out of your day to talk with them and see how they are doing, that small recognition and appreciation really goes a long way.

Any suggestions for Employee Safety during COVID-19?

MU: Be mindful of your PPE (do not wear your mask below your nose or on your chin), keep up on your hand washing hygiene, keep your distance, if sick, stay home. We are so focused on COVID that many employees are forgetting their other safety training. I highly recommend sending out safety tips and self-care reminders to your managers and front-line employees.

JPG:  We have been preaching universal precautions since the beginning of the outbreak. A great deal of the information related to the pandemic has been fluid, so early on we tried to prepare with an overabundance of caution. The advice I give to our staff is to treat their PPE as an essential tool necessary to perform their job, like a broom or a microfiber rag. PPE has always been essential to our organization, but in the last six months there is a greater focus and expectation from our employees and customers that we have been engaged in almost daily.

JD:  Wear your masks, don’t touch your face and wash your hands.  Wash them every time you take your gloves off.  Wash them before you take a break.  Wash them at the end of your shift.  Wash them because you pass a sink.  Universal precautions are as important now as ever.  If we don’t stay healthy, how can we keep everyone else healthy?  Also, did I mention you should wash your hands?

Imperial Dade offers free training programs to customers. Contact your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant or visit http://www.imperialdade.com for a location near you.

Innovative Restaurant Tech Takes “Contactless” to a New Level

By Laura Craven

Many technologies have been around for years including online ordering apps, digital wallets, QR codes, and geotargeted digital marketing. However, the new requirements for contactless experiences, health monitoring, and other challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis have created opportunities for innovative platforms to help restaurants reach more customers, sell more food and beverage, and adhere to new requirements.  

Adoption of restaurant technology has been accelerated by the need to adapt and survive in today’s world.

“Restaurants are an important part of communities and the fabric of society. They are going through a hard time and tech companies and the broader ecosystem need to support them through it. ”

Ray Reddy, CEO of Ritual

Imagine being able to pay your check by simply smiling at your mobile phone. In this recent article published by Deigo Coquillat, the fusion of digital wallets and facial recognition is explored.

Technology can also help streamline activities, allowing for labor to be reallocated to other tasks. With labor averaging about 30% of a restaurant’s expenses, any opportunity to offset the cost of new expenses such as higher-quality packaging, managing curbside pick-ups, or frequent cleaning and disinfecting is critical.

Jennifer Marston asked the leaders of 8 restaurant tech companies about their philosophy in bringing new tools to the industry. She summed up their answers in her latest article in The Spoon. Concepts ranging from loyalty programs, staff health checks, and guest data management are discussed.

“Best in class hospitality tech platforms enable operators to offering experiences that meet changed guest expectations around health and safety, while helping them market to guests in a personalized manner.”

Jennifer Marston, The Spoon

Taking contactless experiences to a new level includes self-pouring beverage dispensers that are activated by scanning a QR code with a mobile device. Nancy Luna writes about Coca-Cola’s Freestyle Machines in Nation’s Restaurant News and explains the latest in sanitary self-serve beer taps and cloud-based menu options.  

“The idea is to be safe, seamless and fun.”

Michael Conner, Chief Architect of Coca-Cola Freestyle

New restaurant technology will continue to emerge and if those platforms improve guest experience, solve problems, and help operators succeed they will be valuable additions to the marketplace.

How to Adopt Social Distancing Guidelines for Your Business

Although the fight against COVID-19 is not over yet, many businesses are starting to reopen their doors as some states scale back restrictions. Public health figures encourage the continuation of remote work where possible, but that’s not a feasible option for certain companies. Those who work in restaurants, retail stores, beauty salons, or other parts of the service industry have to return to their workplace to resume operations. Even some offices may need individual members present for important functions.

The bottom line is that, as more and more people get comfortable enough to venture into public spaces, businesses must ensure the safety of their patrons and workers by taking all of the necessary precautions, starting with social distancing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the best ways to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 is through social distancing. Social distancing requires all individuals to retain at least six feet of physical distance between themselves and others. The goal is to limit close contact with others, keeping yourself and, therefore, the public at large safe.

Although social distancing is crucial to workplace safety, it can also present challenges for those who are unsure of how to set up their businesses properly to comply with social distancing guidelines. We hope these tips act as a guide and provide you with a clearer picture of how to implement social distancing in your workplace.

  • LIMIT INDOOR CAPACITY: First and foremost, it’s important to understand that you cannot correctly carry out social distancing rules if you have a full house of clients and/or employees. You may have to limit indoor capacity, especially at the beginning stages of your reopening. This will allow you to perfect your safety procedures before allowing more people to visit.
  • REARRANGE SEATING & WORKSTATION AREAS: Move furniture as needed to ensure everyone has a six-foot radius of space around their area. This likely means less indoor seating and, if possible, moving outdoors. Another solution is to block off any areas that won’t be used; this way, you can safely distance people without dealing with the hassle of rearranging everything.
  • MARK WAITING LINES WITH FLOOR DECALS: Waiting lines can become a transmission area if people stand too close to each other. Ensure everyone follows social distancing rules by installing floor decals feet apart. One-way walking paths, indicated by floor decals, can also help minimize close contact.
  • INSTALL PLEXIGLASS PARTITIONS: For added security, install plexiglass partitions. These dividers work best in settings where people have to engage in face-to-face contact, such as retail cash registers, open-concept office areas, and restaurants.

Don’t forget: there are other precautions, besides social distancing, that you can follow to create a safe work environment.

Imperial Dade - Business Safety Precautions UPDATED

For more information on reopening guidelines or to buy the equipment and supplies needed to prepare your business to reopen, contact Imperial Dade today. For a location near you visit http://www.imperialdade.com.