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.

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.

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.

cleaning people.jpeg

 

Expert Interview – Creating a Safety Culture

Safety matters! No matter the company size or industry, from hotels to office buildings, employers who show they care about the safety of their employees see improved morale, increased productivity, lower costs and, most importantly, fewer injuries. For this month’s Expert Interview I spoke to Ken Morris, Dade Paper’s Corporate Director of Safety. Ken has 30 years’ experience in workplace safety including positions as driver trainer, fleet manager and workplace safety consultant. In 2008 Ken joined Dade Paper and oversees all aspects of the company’s comprehensive safety program.

LC: Why is a formal safety program important for all businesses?

KM: Formal safety programs lay the ground work and set the basic directions for the workplace. Without them, there are no markers for the path. People often say that the OSHA standards or the Federal Motor Carrier regulations are all a company needs…after all they are the laws of the land, but they are only the bare minimum. In today’s workplace, we require more robust frameworks for a continually evolving work environment. Formal safety practices give stability to address changing needs of the workplace.

LC: What has changed over the last few years as far as safety programs?

KM: There has been huge shift in the philosophical view of safety in the workplace. In the past, safety has been perceived as a separate facet of the operation with different goals and agenda. Now safety is viewed as an integral part of the everyday process. Simply put, safety must be incorporated and managed just like any other part of our business.

LC: What changes do you see coming in the next few years?

KM: Technology, technology and more technology is an ongoing trend. Ninety-three percent of all accidents involve human error. The developing safety technologies work with humans to help identify hazards and prevent “mistakes” from happening and help mitigate the effects when an accident cannot be avoided. A good example of this is our current project with the company’s commercial motor vehicles. We are currently installing two high-tech devices in all of our trucks. The first device, called Mobileye, is basically an early-warning system that alerts our drivers to potentially dangerous traffic conditions, giving them time to avoid accidents. The second device, SmartDrive, is a video event recorder that is triggered by actions such as harsh braking, lane departures, following too closely and impacts. It records both the scene in front of the truck and the driver simultaneously. These recorded events are reviewed and used, if needed, to coach the driver much like a pro sport team reviewing game films. These two devices work together to protect our drivers and the public on the roadway. The ultimate goal is using technology to make a safer driver.

LC: What advice can you give a company that is creating a safety program for the first time?

KM: It is easy to put a safety program into writing, but much harder to make it work in the real world. You must have commitment from ALL levels to make it successful. Personal responsibility and accountability is hugely important and you must be consistent in the message you are sending your employees. Many workplace accidents occur when people are trying to get a job done quickly, or feel like there is pressure to produce, and they short-cut safety procedures. If this happens, the message was not understood or taken seriously. Safety is a basic function of all work and an integral part of everyday processes.

LC: What advice can you give a company that wants to improve their existing safety program?

KM: Safety in the workplace is daunting proposition. The risks are always evolving, so the safety program must be vigilant. Never assume that doing the same thing in regard to safety over the last 5, 10, or 15 years is enough. Always access the situations and be open to new ways of controlling risks.

LC: Any other thoughts on workplace safety?

KM: Safety is always a challenge. By definition, accidents are undesirable or unfortunate happenings that occurs unintentionally and usually result in harm, injury, damage, or loss. Our safety programs must try to anticipate the unintentional, control the undesirable and mitigate the unfortunate in a dynamic fast-paced and ever-changing work environment. We must create and nurture a SAFETY CULTURE. To do this, every person must practice safety as a routine function that takes precedence over every other task in the workplace. Every person, at every level, CANNOT accept anything less than safe work practices from every other person. That is what defines a safety culture. A safety culture in the workplace promotes personal responsibility for safety, and fosters, by its very nature a safe environment for everyone.

For helpful safety resources visit the National Safety Council’s website www.nsc.org.