It’s also critically important to use the correct chemicals in an office setting to kill germs.

“Using best-practice healthcare cleaning standards outside of the healthcare setting will ultimately reduce absenteeism,” Sopha says.

While a quality multi-purpose cleaner can be effective for everyday use, Sopha and Searcy recommend using an EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant on high-touch contact points and other appropriate areas during a cold or flu outbreak. Also, distributors should educate themselves and their customers about viruses and bacteria that require special cleaning agents (for example, only a virocidal disinfectant will kill norovirus).

To reduce the risk of surface-contact transmission, these disinfectants should be given the proper dwell time to maximize effectiveness. A standard quaternary disinfectant (quat) requires the surface remain wet for 10 minutes, while accelerated hydrogen peroxides (AHPs) have a shorter dwell time and are more effective on a wider array of pathogens.

“One of the biggest mistakes that makes disinfecting surfaces ineffective is a lack of proper dwell time,” Searcy says. “Proper dwell time is essential, especially in restrooms.”

Finally, another best practice for chemicals is to use dilution control rather than a concentrate that has to be let down manually.

“Recommend that your customers use mechanical dilution control or portion control — anything that gets people using the right amount of product,” Peduto says.

Janitors cannot follow employees all day cleaning every surface they touch. The fact is people will continue to come to work while sick and even clean surfaces will quickly become re-infected. Office employees need to be enlisted as partners in the cleaning program and distributors can help make this happen.

Suppliers can help their customers implement a hand-hygiene program by supplying sanitizing stations and signage that promotes hand washing. They can also encourage customers to communicate with employees about the importance of staying home when sick, properly washing hands and regularly cleaning their own work areas. Customers can also make disinfectant wipes available in offices and public spaces for easy cleaning and disinfection.

“The actions taken by the employees in that facility are the second important piece of the germ-fighting puzzle,” Searcy says. “Employee communication and a company commitment to create a healthier work environment can go a long way to helping improve productivity in the workplace.” 

Becky Mollenkamp is a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.


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