A lady coughing

Flu and cold season is right around the corner. It used to be that the season was Dec. 1 to March 1. That is no longer the case. We are seeing two waves of the flu each season now. Many times, there is a mutation from the flu species seen in Australia by the time it gets to the United States. This is why flu season is now considered to be as early as October and as late as May — so half of the year. In recent years there have been record flu seasons with the most deaths in the United States since recorded history of flu statistics. In 2017, there were more than 82,000 deaths in the United States from the flu or flu-related respiratory illnesses.

Due to this change in infectious outbreaks, it is more important than ever that building service contractors have an actual public health infectious outbreak program set up for clients in the contract or as a stand-alone program they can sell. Having such a program will separate one company from the rest.

No one can promise any customer that they will be able to keep the facility from experiencing infectious outbreaks. It isn’t realistic. People come and go from facilities and that means germs. But offering a program to customers puts BSCs in the driver’s seat. It’s the difference between having a program set up to deal with infectious outbreaks on a daily basis or waiting and dealing with the hysteria, the news coverage showing the facility being closed and doused with nasty chemicals in response to contractors not providing a program.

Starting Points

An infection control or mitigation program for public health is mainly how and where janitors use sanitizers and disinfectants every day. It also incorporates schedule flexibility and communication with the customer during cold and flu season. To start a program, BSCs need to ask themselves a few questions in order to understand what processes and procedures they actually have set up and what they need to add.

  • What infectious diseases occur every year in the facility (cold, flu, MRSA, Norovirus, etc.)?
  • What disinfectants and sanitizers are used now?
  • Is everyone trained in how to use disinfectants, dilute them and what they kill?
  • Do all janitors know what added tasks they should be performing to deal with an outbreak?
  • Does the company have good communication with the client so that supervisors are informed when infectious disease symptoms start to show up?
  • Does the janitorial team have clear and concise instructions on what to do when flu season starts or occupants start getting sick?

If the answer is “no” to many of these questions, then BSCs should work on turning those answers into “yeses.” Again, if this process is in the current contract, then BSCs should be doing something. If it isn’t, then it’s time to educate clients on why they need this extra service for the health of their occupants — and upsell them an infection prevention program.

Knowing what product to use on what pathogen and how to use these products correctly are the main pieces to this puzzle along with training, education and proper written procedures.

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