Healthy woman reflect bacteria attack with punching. Concept illustration about boost Immunity with Exercise

The risk of spreading illnesses such as norovirus, influenza and other highly contagious pathogens increases during the winter months, costing businesses an estimated $10.4 billion in sick days and lost productivity. To help reduce the spread of germs this cold and flu season, Cintas Corporation offers tips for keeping the workplace healthy and maintaining building cleanliness. 

“Whether it’s the flu or norovirus, an outbreak can be detrimental to a business’s productivity,” says Christiny Betsch, marketing manager for Cintas. “Implementing an effective and aggressive cleaning regimen that includes sanitizing hard surfaces and educating employees on the best handwashing practices can help assist in preventing the spread of disease this flu season.”

To help businesses reduce the threat of an outbreak, Cintas recommends the following:

Implement a Hand Hygiene Program

Encourage frequent handwashing among employees. According to the CDC, handwashing can reduce the number of respiratory illnesses by 16 to 21 percent. Post signage in high-traffic locations such as breakrooms to remind employees to wash their hands throughout the day in addition to providing easy access to water, soap and alcohol-based sanitizers. 

Thoroughly Clean and Disinfect “Hot Spots”

High-touch surfaces that aren’t cleaned frequently can transfer pathogens to others. As one of the most touched surfaces in a facility, door handles should be wiped down and disinfected regularly, as well as doors to offices, restrooms, storage areas, refrigerators and front and back entrances. Additional hot spots such as desks, elevators, light switches and other high-touch surfaces should be wiped down and disinfected daily to reduce the spread of germs.

Keep Supplies Well-Stocked

During flu season, facilities should keep stock of items such as hand hygiene products, toilet tissues, trash bags, disinfectants and microfiber cloths, to encourage compliance with infection prevention strategies.

Remind Sick Employees to Stay Home

Employees who come into work displaying symptoms of the flu can be highly contagious and can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days for their symptoms to subside. Although many Americans would rather power through their illness than stay home, it’s crucial for leaders to stress the importance of health and wellbeing for everyone in the facility.

Encourage Flu Shots

In addition to taking the necessary steps to prevent employees from becoming infected with the flu, getting a flu vaccination can reduce the risk of illness by 40 to 60 percent. Vaccines can help reduce the severity of those who still fall ill and can help protect those who are vulnerable to disease.