Obsessive Compulsive Fear of Germs

While vaccine mismatches can limit their effectiveness in avoiding sickness during flu season, removing the flu virus from surfaces and the air in the workplace really can make a difference, according to an article on The Conversation website.

While the article still recommended getting a flu vaccine every year, it also offered practical steps to take to create a flu-unfriendly environment.

• Wiping down frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, elevator buttons and faucets with alcohol-based cleaning products can make a difference.

• Increasing air circulation — by boosting the exchange rate of ventilation systems, or using ceiling or portable fans — can diffuse flu viruses and limit their spread.

• Air purifiers with HEPA filters and high flow rates designed to remove particles can also be effective in removing viruses from the air.

And, of course, handwashing can also help reduce transmission by direct and indirect contact. But, according to a study by the US Department of Agriculture, very few people take that precaution. The recent study revealed that the average person washes their hands incorrectly 97 percent of the time.

The research also shows that handwashing habits may actually be getting worse. A 2013 Michigan State University study found that only 5 percent of people washed their hands correctly. Most people don’t rub with soap for the 20 seconds recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Custodial professionals can play an important role in hand hygiene by working with building occupants to clean hands properly and implement hygiene programs designed to promote the importance of handwashing. Many of these programs provide resources to start, supplement, support, and promote handwashing initiatives.