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.

Restaurant Reopening Guidelines

By Vickie Holland

On a Zoom call last weekend my friends were talking about what they miss most during the “Stay at Home” order. The #1 answer was going to a restaurant! Thankfully most of the restaurants in our area have pivoted to curbside pick-up but that doesn’t take the place of sitting down in a beautiful restaurant while someone brings you a plate of delicious grilled red snapper on a bed of quinoa topped with a tropical fruit salsa. Or an order of jerk chicken wings (flats only) well done.

Once the “Stay at Home” order has been lifted, is your restaurant ready for customers? The National Restaurant Association has published this handy comprehensive reopening guide to help you get ready. Take the time to read it carefully. In addition, Imperial Dade’s HyProtection Zone consultation is available. This complimentary service includes a site survey, product recommendations, and review of best practices addressing disinfection and hygiene.

Here are our 10 favorite reopening guidelines:

  1. Check in with all employees’ well-being. They may have lost a loved one or experienced anxiety, loneliness or depression during quarantine.
  2. Instruct sick employees to stay home. Prescreen employees on arrival for signs of COVID-19 by taking their temperature.
  3. Enforce strict hand hygiene. Prompt reminders with posters on best practices.
  4. Develop a strong SOP for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces. Check that your disinfectant is EPA registered and appropriate for use against SARS-CoV-2.
  5. Train employees on the new, more detailed disinfecting and sanitizing practices.
  6. Follow the 4 steps of Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill
  7. Consider rolling silverware and eliminate table presets.
  8. Provide hand sanitizer for customers and employees.
  9. Use single-service gloves, deli tissue or suitable utensils.
  10. Consider a reservation only business model to better space diners.

Employees should be aware of the steps you have made to protect them from COVID-19. Ask employees for feedback on these changes and listen to suggestions. Employees often have creative solutions.

For more information on restaurant reopening guidelines, disinfectants, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 by Cleaning, Sanitizing, & Disinfecting Touchpoints & Other Surfaces

COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that has been devastating countries worldwide. Its most common symptoms include dry cough, high fever, and shortness of breath. As of this posting, all 50 states have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and many states, especially Washington, New York, and California, have been hard hit by a high number of deaths due to the virus and its side effects, primarily pneumonia.

While many organizations are having people work from home, it is imperative to continue to maintain facilities and keep all frequent touchpoints clean and disinfected as much as possible. The cleaning supplies, chemicals, and equipment available at Imperial Dade are necessary now more than ever to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and help keep everyone safe and healthy.

Cleaning or Disinfecting? Know the Differences to Stay Healthy

When it comes to cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing surfaces, many people incorrectly believe that those terms and actions are interchangeable. While all three types of cleansing are effective and necessary, they have their specific uses and should not be treated as equally efficacious.

Cleaning

Cleaning is the first step to safe surfaces. It is, by definition, the removal of dirt, impurities, and some germs via soap and water or other surface cleaners. While cleaning surfaces with soap and water does reduce the number of germs on the surface and, thus, the risk of infection, remaining germs will continue to multiply.

Sanitizing

Another step for safer surfaces involves sanitizing. Sanitizing surfaces effectively reduces the number of harmful bacteria to safe levels according to most health standards and requirements. While sanitizing does kill approximately 99.99 percent of most types of bacteria, it does not kill or remove all viruses and fungi. In the current health climate, it is best to bypass surface sanitizers and head to the disinfectants after cleaning most surfaces.

Disinfecting

For the safest surfaces, use a disinfectant. Disinfecting surfaces involves using solutions that destroy or deactivate viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms after leaving the properly diluted solution on the surface for the stated dwell time, typically 10 minutes. Imperial Dade has many disinfecting solutions for commercial use, including Victoria Bay disinfectant sprays with EPA certifications and kill claims for emerging pathogens.

Common “Touchpoints” Requiring Cleaning & Disinfecting

As mentioned above, COVID-19 is a highly contagious and infectious disease, so surfaces used frequently by many people are considered high-risk touchpoints. The majority of individuals in the U.S. carrying COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning that they will not show symptoms but could still transmit the virus onto surfaces they have touched or on which their respiratory droplets (through coughing or sneezing) have landed.

Here are a few of the most common touch that should be disinfected in commercial and residential buildings:

ImperialDade_IG 

For more information regarding how to best prevent the spread of COVID-19, review Imperial Dade’s recent posts or contact your local branch today and ask to speak to a chemical specialist. Visit www.imperialdade.com/locations to find a location near you.

Increasing Floor Care Productivity

By Laura Craven

The New Year often brings new budgets and goals for reducing costs while improving productivity. For this issue of The Expert Interview I spoke with Jim Lety, Imperial Dade’s Director of Janitorial Sales and a champion of productivity initiatives. With over 30 years of experience in the janitorial industry, Jim has held positions with distribution companies, national marketing organizations, chemical manufacturers and a floor equipment manufacturer. For the last 17 years, he has been part of the Imperial Dade team. 

LC: What are the major changes that you have seen in recent years that impact facility managers?

JL: One of the most significant changes is the availability of labor to perform the task of cleaning the facility. Turnover is one of the toughest challenges that face many of the facility managers today. Properly training an ever changing workforce on proper product usage is a major challenge.

An answer to such a challenge is the new P.L.U.S. labeling system. The PLUS label system provides a universally understood icon based system to train your team. The label is easy to understand, reduces product waste, encourages proper product usage and requires less time to train.

LC: Saving time is a big factor.

JL: Yes, facility managers are now required to do more with less. They have additional square footage to maintain yet their budgets have been cut and they have fewer employees. Increasing the productivity of their labor is a major challenge.

LC: What can they do to address that issue?

JL: Understanding proper cleaning procedures, including the use of powered equipment, to increase productivity is paramount. I often compare floor care to lawn care. Lawn care companies have equipment purchased based on the increased productivity of their labor. This increased productivity allows the crew to complete each job efficiently and move on to the next project. Floor care productivity can be increased by using equipment designed for the square footage of your facility.

LC: That makes sense, but what about the cost?

JL: Rider equipment pays for itself. There is a minimum 20% increase in productivity compared to a walk-behind scrubber and 500% productivity increase over a mop. New models are available in smaller sizes as well. Micro-riders have the same foot print as a 20 inch walk behind. We have productivity calculators that can determine the ROI based on square footage, frequency of cleaning, and the hourly wage of the crew. It is an investment that really pays off.

LC: Sustainability is a hot topic right now. How does floor care fit into a green cleaning program such as Imperial Dade’s Greensafe Program?

JL: Manufacturers of floor care equipment have been tasked with creating equipment that fits into a green cleaning program. The use of orbital technology prevents cleaning solutions from “slinging” out, or spraying into the area being cleaned. This type of equipment also uses 50-70% less water and chemicals compared to conventional scrubbers. Chemical-free stripping is another process that is ideal in education and healthcare facilities where indoor air quality is critical.

LC: What is something a facilities manager can do today to improve their operations?

JL: Consult with a knowledgeable supplier about their challenges. There are many new cleaning technologies on the market today that can save time and money and produce better results. Also, never trade service for price. Expect both and partner with a supplier that provides the overall best value.

Jim Lety and his team are available to consult with customers about floor care and facilities maintenance programs. Jim can be reached at jlety@imperialdade.com.

 

9 High-Risk Housekeeping Tasks

Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers are amongst the highest occupational groups at risk for injury. This is due to the physical nature of their work that often involves awkward postures, repeated motions, and forceful exertion. The following is a list of high-risk injury tasks and the best practices to reduce the risk of injury and increase productivity.

By Jameka Carter

Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers are amongst the highest occupational groups at risk for injury. This is due to the physical nature of their work that often involves awkward postures, repeated motions, and forceful exertion. The following is a list of high-risk injury tasks and the best practices to reduce the risk of injury and increase productivity.

Share these instructions with your crew to keep them safe.

Moving Trash Cans/Carts

The more supplies loaded on the trash can or cart, the greater the force needed to push. Pay attention to uneven surfaces. It can cause the barrel to tip over. If it tips, let it go to prevent any strain on yourself.

Lifting Garbage Bags from a Trash Can

It is so easy to injure yourself while lifting heavy objects. Heavy lifting becomes more difficult when the contents of the bag have been pushed down. Use a trash can designed with vents for easier lifting and less back strain.

Taking out trash

Moving Furniture

Moving and rearranging furniture involves forceful exertions for one person. Use equipment and devices to help move furniture or call someone for help to prevent serious back injury.

Carrying Buckets

Some jobs require lifting and carrying heavy buckets. With prolonged use, a thin handle causes significant contact pressure on the hand. Avoid heavy compression on your hand by padding the handle or using a handle with a bigger diameter.

Scrubbing

A worker who cleans floors by hand uses rapid and repetitive hand movements while kneeling, crouching, or crawling. There is also sustained bending of the upper body and neck. Use knee pads if you must kneel or use adjustable long-handled scrubbers with pivoting heads to avoid extreme reaches.

Sweeping

Sweeping floors may involve awkward positions of wrists. In addition, the back and neck are often in an awkward forward bent posture. Do not bend your back. Use lightweight brooms, standup dustpans, and lobby brooms. They allow you to remain standing up straight. If needed, bend your knees, not your back.

Making Beds

Housekeepers forcefully lift and hold each mattress corner with one hand and tuck in the bedsheet with the other. Prolonged and repetitive bending is hard on your back. Do not bend your back. Instead, bend your knees and crouch briefly.

High Dusting

Reaching up while holding a duster for long periods of time requires awkward and fixed positions of the arms, shoulders, and neck. This task can lead to pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, arms, and upper back. Stand at an angle and not directly under the dusting area for improved posture.

Not Taking Breaks

Working intensely and rapidly while in awkward postures, exerting force, and struggling to keep up with workload are factors often associated with an increased risk of injury. Take breaks every two hours to allow rest and recovery from physical exertion.

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