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.

Industry Experts Share Their Cost Saving Tips, Part 3 of 3

Jan/San Supplies & Equipment

Tips from Mitch Irvine, VP of Sales, National Accounts – Imperial Dade

  1. Buy concentrated chemicals which provide significant cost savings and reduce the need for chemical storage space. Our EDS (Easy Dilution System) or CMS (Chemical Management System) allow for super-concentrated formulas to be mixed by a wall-mounted dispensing system and the final product is only 10% of the RTU (Ready to Use) equivalent.
  2. Utilize our Imperial Dade Cleaning Institute to train and educate your cleaning crew. Properly trained employees work more efficiently and more safely.
  3. Invest in maintaining your floor cleaning equipment. Well maintained equipment avoids costly unexpected breakdowns which halt productivity.
  4. Reduce labor costs by implementing robotic cleaning equipment into your operations. Autonomous floor cleaning can save as much as 4 hours a day compared to manual machines, delivering an excellent ROI.
  5. Purchase matting rather than renting. Your establishment can own a custom-printed mat for the cost of about 10 weeks of rental fees. Use an outdoor scraper mat for the initial tough soils and then an olefin mat on the inside to capture the final debris. It can cost up to $500 to remove one pound of soil from a building.  Matting is the first defense to reduce indoor floor soil.

Our experienced Chemical Managers and Floor Care Specialists are available to help you reduce costs and improve safety and cleanliness in your facility. Contact an Imperial Dade location near you to get started!

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.

Counterfeit Cleaning Products on the Rise During COVID-19

Hand sanitizers. Disinfectant wipes. Household chemical cleaners and so much more.

All of the different types of cleaning products that were readily available to consumers just a few short months ago are now nearly impossible to find at your local supermarket or wholesale stores. This shortage is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus that caused a worldwide panic also left a hole in the cleaning products supply chain, one that counterfeiters have taken advantage of by introducing poor quality products to the marketplace.

As COVID-19 intensified in early spring, shoppers flooded the stores in search of essential supplies and cleaned out all of the aisles of cleaning products and protective equipment. Commercial cleaning chemical demands also skyrocketed. With no supplies left in stores, fraudulent companies began marketing fake “brand-name” products on some online sites. These counterfeit cleaners are not tested and approved by trusted government sources, so they don’t actually “kill 99.99% of germs” like they claim to. Buyers who have been tricked into purchasing counterfeit products are still left exposed to bacteria, germs, and viruses.

On the other hand, genuine cleaning products are subject to vigorous testing by different government agencies, depending on their intended use. For example, disinfectants that claim to kill harmful bacteria are considered pesticides and, therefore, must register any active ingredients with the EPA and meet strict labeling requirements. Industrial general-purpose cleaners must also abide by the Hazardous Communication Standard and meet OSHA labeling requirements. Federal regulation ensures that chemical cleaners are not only safe to use, but also as effective as they claim to be.

 As a buyer of commercial or household chemicals, how can you identify between a genuine and fraudulent product?

Only purchase brand-name products from a reputable distributor or retailer. Make sure any disinfectants have an EPA registration number listed on the label. This number is proof that the product has been tested and approved by the EPA for use. If the label doesn’t carry a registration number, it may be counterfeit.

To make purchasing the right disinfectants easier for everyone, the EPA has created a simple online tool that identifies which disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. All you have to do is launch the application, found here, and input the initial two parts of the registration number. The program will display important information, including contact time and efficacy for emerging pathogens.

Once you have purchased an EPA-approved cleaner, make sure you’re using it correctly by following these steps:

Imperial Dade - Cleaning Instructions Updated 2

As always, if you have any questions regarding your cleaning products or techniques, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our chemical specialists at Imperial Dade. From Victoria Bay Peroxide Disinfectant Cleaner to Spin and Span Disinfecting All-Purpose Spray, we can help you find the best solution to stay safe. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation. For a location near you visit our website.

COVID-19 Resources from Imperial Dade

Imperial Dade has been serving the restaurant and lodging industries for over 80 years. We are committed to helping our partners work through the challenges of creating a safe and healthy environment as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

The following are various resources available for download or accessible via link. Included are new and innovative products designed specifically to solve challenges related to social distancing, forensic cleaning, and safety. Best practices and guidelines for re-opening are also part of the collection.

We will continue to add more content in the weeks to come. We encourage you to revisit this page on a weekly basis.

Imperial Dade is the largest independent distributor of foodservice packaging, janitorial supplies, and equipment in the United States. We have experts on staff in the fields of infection prevention, food safety, warewashing and laundry, and sustainability. To learn more about us, visit our website.

CDC Reopening Guidance for Businesses

OSHA Reopening Guidance for Businesses

NRA Reopening Guidelines for Restaurants

P&G Reopening Guidance for Hotels & Restaurants

Social-Distancing Equipment: 

Non-contact Digital Thermometer:

Personal Protective Equipment:

EPA Registered Disinfectants:

Learn about the proper use of disinfectants in this video.

Learn about OSHA regulations pertaining to chemical spray bottles in this video.

Disinfectant Application Equipment (lead times range from 4-12 weeks)

Learn more about electrostatic cleaning in this article.

 

COVID-19 Resources from Imperial Dade

Imperial Dade has been serving the restaurant and lodging industries for over 80 years. We are committed to helping our partners work through the challenges of creating a safe and healthy environment as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

The following are various resources available for download or accessible via link. Included are new and innovative products designed specifically to solve challenges related to social distancing, forensic cleaning, and safety. Best practices and guidelines for re-opening are also part of the collection.

We will continue to add more content in the weeks to come. We encourage you to revisit this page on a weekly basis.

Imperial Dade is the largest independent distributor of foodservice packaging, janitorial supplies, and equipment in the United States. We have experts on staff in the fields of infection prevention, food safety, warewashing and laundry, and sustainability. To learn more about us, visit our website.

To schedule a personal consultation, please contact us and we’ll have a representative respond as quickly as possible.

CDC Reopening Guidance for Businesses

OSHA Reopening Guidance for Businesses

NRA Reopening Guidelines for Restaurants

P&G Reopening Guidance for Hotels & Restaurants

Social-Distancing Equipment: 

Non-contact Digital Thermometer:

Personal Protective Equipment:

EPA Registered Disinfectants:

Learn about the proper use of disinfectants in this video.

Learn about OSHA regulations pertaining to chemical spray bottles in this video.

Disinfectant Application Equipment (lead times range from 4-12 weeks)

Learn more about electrostatic cleaning in this article.

 

Once “stay-at-home” is over, do you have a “back-to-work” plan?

By Vickie Holland

Hopefully in the next few weeks the stay-at-home orders will be over and we can all get back to work. After months of working from home (WFH) employees will return to the office. As we make this transition, all employers will be faced with the same challenge: keeping their employees safe.

Employee safety should be the #1 priority when creating your “back-to-work” plan.  According to the National Safety Council (NSC), employees who feel safe in the workplace, both physically and mentally, are less likely to call out or quit. While there are many basic safety principles that should be considered, here are several to add to your plan.

Next Level Social Distancing

When we need to run to the grocery store to pick up our dinner, we know to keep our distance of 6 feet. This distance can be challenging in the workplace.  Designating foot traffic flow as “one way” in tighter offices will help keep employees from passing too closely.  Many offices have placed cubicles close together to save on space. Others have created an open concept plan with long bench desks with multiple employees designed to promote collaboration. To limit these tight quarters, relocate employees to work at every other desk or space.  If employees must share workspaces, providing disposable wipes for disinfecting before and after using a shared area or equipment (computer/phone/copier) will be needed.

Flexibility

Staggering work hours or workdays helps with distancing. You may want to consider having employees return in waves. Some employees may not be ready; showing flexibility will help create a safe workplace. Staggering lunch and break times will help limit exposure as well as limiting the number of chairs in break rooms, cafeterias, and conference rooms. Speaking of conference rooms, move meetings to video conferencing or ask the question “is this meeting even necessary?”

Checking in with Employees- “Welcome Back”

As employees return to work it is important for their supervisors to check on employee’s mental health. Maybe they were sick or cared for a sick relative? Perhaps they lost a loved one to COVID-19? Did they experience any anxiety or depression during the crisis? If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), remind every employee this service is available to support them during these difficult times.

Professional Disinfectant Cleaning

It has never been more important to be a professional cleaner. The safety and health of everyone depends on the custodians. While it is important to do the basic cleaning it is important to increase the cleaning frequency of the high touch points (break room furniture, copiers, fax machines, doors, light switches, etc.). If you do not have a no-touch disinfectant (NTD) program in place, now is the time to incorporate this into your SOP.  Imperial Dade’s Sales Consultants are the experts on NTD as well as which products meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.  We can help you train returning custodians on new disinfecting procedures, products, and techniques.

 Touch-Free Workplace 

What areas in your workplace can be modified touch free? Lights, doors, wastebaskets, soap dispensers, towel dispensers, and automatic window shades are a few examples. What about voice activated systems instead of touch points (“Alexa, turn on the lights”)? Facial recognition instead of signing in? Sounds somewhat futuristic and costly but voice and facial recognition are quickly becoming the new normal.

 Reinforce Personal Protection and Safety

We are all in this together! Say goodbye to handshaking and hello to a simple yoga bow or wave. The CDC encourages prompting reminders of hand hygiene to employees with posters on best practices. Don’t forget when coughing to use tissues or cough into your sleeve. Other personal protection includes using cloth face covering, avoiding close contact, and not touching face/eyes.

Communicate these changes throughout your organization. Employees should be aware of the steps you have made to protect them from COVID-19.

Ask employees for feedback on these changes. Listen to suggestions. Employees often have creative solutions! They may have a fresh idea how you can go “touch free” in your organization.

For more information on Employee Safety, No Touch Disinfection or COVID-19 prevention in the workplace contact your local branch today and ask to speak to a chemical specialist. Visit www.imperialdade.com/locations to find a location near you.