While public safety is always the top priority, health threats such as the Ebola outbreak are a good opportunity to make sure that all staff are meeting cleaning standards and that managers are taking every action possible to prevent the spread of disease. Here are some easy steps you can take to reduce the spread of germs in your facility’s restrooms.
Make Hand Washing as Accessible as Possible
One of the most effective ways to prevent infections diseases is by hand washing. However, many people do not wash their hands after using the restroom. Studies show that one third of people do not use soap when washing their hands, and 10 percent of people do not wash their hands at all after using the restroom.
Fortunately, there are steps facilities managers can take to increase the number of people who do wash their hands in the restroom:
- Make sure that everything a person needs to wash his or her hands is available in the bathroom. Implement hourly walk-throughs by a manager or designated staff person to check soap and paper towel levels. Don’t forget to check that soap and paper towel dispensers are working properly!
- Consider posting a sign that reminds visitors to wash their hands. Studies show that this increases the number of people who wash their hands.
- People are more likely to wash their hands when a sink is clean. Make sure your lavatories are sparkling, and you’ll have more restroom hand-washers and a safer, cleaner bathroom.
Identify Restroom “Touch Points”
When it comes to disinfecting, the most important area of the bathroom are the “touch points,” or places that come into contact with restroom visitors’ hands. Common touch points include:
- Soap dispensers
- Paper towel dispensers
- Door handles
- Toilet stall handles
- Toilet flushing levers
Don’t forget staff touch points as well, including window latches or handles to cleaning supply closets.
There is no such thing as too much disinfection. If just one person who did not properly wash their hands comes into contact with a touch point, disinfecting could potentially prevent the spread of germs. It would not be extreme to perform hourly walk-throughs to disinfect a standard list of touch points.
Use Products Correctly
There is always room to improve our facility management processes, especially how often we clean. But there are other factors that compromise cleaning effectiveness as well. Some of these factors include:
- Using the right cleaning product for the job
- Focusing on the correct areas
- Mixing concentrated solutions properly
- Allowing disinfecting solution to dwell on the surface for the correct amount of time
- Cleaning before disinfecting
There is a difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Cleaning involves removing visible dirt and grime. Sanitizing is meant for use in places such as kitchens, in which removing most of the bacteria quickly is more important than removing all of the bacteria over a longer period of time.
Finally, disinfecting involves leaving the solution to sit on the site for a longer period of time to remove more germs. For general use in the bathroom, and especially for the purposes of protecting from the spread of germs and bacteria, make sure your facility uses disinfecting solutions.
It is a good idea for facilities managers to regularly revisit the products that they use for certain cleaning tasks. It’s possible that the products that have always been used for a particular purpose were either not meant for that purpose or can be replaced with a more effective product.
While cleaning floors is an important part of bathroom cleaning, floors may be one of the least important aspects of disinfecting because the floor is not a touch point. A general purpose cleaner may suffice for floors in places that are not prone to serious contamination, such as a hospital.
Audit mixing of concentrations by staff members to make sure that cleaners are being mixed to the proper levels of concentration. If they are not, manpower is being wasted daily by cleaning with solutions that are not strong enough. More critically, it could be a weak link that is spreading germs and bacteria. If you consistently have problems getting solutions mixed to the correct ratio, train one or two staff members to do it properly and allow only them to mix solutions.
Before disinfecting the bathroom, you must first clean the bathroom. This means that cleaning should be a two-step process: first removing visible dirt and grime, then going over the surface again for the purpose of disinfecting.
Use these tips to ensure that your facility bathrooms are as safe as possible from the spread of infectious diseases.
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