February 24, 2022
Did you know flu season actually extends through May? While influenza cases continue to emerge, the entire world is still navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, as Scientific American recently detailed, there’s increased fears of a “twindemic” of influenza and COVID in 2022.
As a leading service provider who understands common employer workplace needs and delivers the right solutions through managed uniform rental and facility service programs, UniFirst recommends that businesses continue to keep their establishments as clean and hygienic as possible (and employees healthy) during the lengthy flu season which can span from October to May.
With restrictions loosening throughout the country, experts are expecting a significant uptick in flu cases this season. According to Lynnette Brammer, a team lead for domestic influenza surveillance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the current flu infection rates (as of late January 2022) nearly match the CDC’s expectations for this time of year. In other words, the 2020/21 reduction in flu cases are the exception, not the new rule.
Helping to ensure facilities are as free of germs as possible may lessen the standard business impact of influenza season, including illness-related work absences and reduced productivity in the workplace. And that’s important because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than four million workers have “illness-related work absences” each year. The CDC cites the annual direct costs for the flu in the U.S., such as hospital and doctors' office visits and medications, as an estimated $4.6 billion. The flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays, resulting in an estimated $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.
Continue reading to see how you can help keep your workplace clean and your employees and customers healthy.
Promoting a Clean Workplace
One of the easiest ways to help prevent the flu or COVID-19 from spreading throughout your workplace is promoting and enabling cleanliness and proper hand hygiene. Everyone's hands, particularly during cold and flu seasons, are veritable germ factories. Providing employees with the proper hand-washing materials can go a long way in assuring the overall health of your workplace.
For starters, make sure your facility has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, and disposable wipes. In addition to providing employees with standard hand soap and water, there are other ways to promote proper hand hygiene. Although washing hands with soap and water for at least 10 seconds is the best way to get rid of flu germs in most situations, you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, such as Purell®, to kill 99.9 percent of the most common germs that cause illness. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also believed to be effective to help combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It's also important to keep all commonly used surfaces clean with surface disinfectants. Health studies have shown that cold and flu germs are able to survive on and be transferred from many commonly touched surfaces for up to 48 hours. Some of the surfaces are obvious, like door handles, phones, and computer keyboards. But others tend to be less apparent, like elevator buttons, cafeteria tables, and debit card keypads.
Comprehensive facility service programs delivered by a reputable service provider can play an important role in the battle against the spread of seasonal illnesses like the flu. Having hand sanitizer stations and wipes readily available has added benefits by creating positive impressions with both staff and customers. In fact, customers are often quite appreciative when places of business show such commitment to creating and maintaining cleaner and healthier environments.
To learn more about UniFirst’s facility service product options and how they can help your business through flu season, visit https://UniFirst.com/facility-services/.
While it may not be top of mind, installing floor mats at your workplace can play a significant role in reducing illnesses like the flu. As many as 5,000 bacteria can cling to just one square inch of footwear. Among the types of additional bacteria that has been identified on footwear are Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Serratiaficaria, which can cause intestinal infections and diarrhea, pneumonia, and respiratory tract infections, respectively. That’s where scraper mats and walk-off mats come in.
The cross-patterned cleat construction of scraper mats placed at entrances allows them to remove significant portions of dirt from the feet of visitors before they enter a building, providing your workplace with the added protection before anyone even walks through the door. Meanwhile, walk-off mats inside the entrance and in strategic areas throughout facilities can help remove most of the residual soiling. Together, this "system" prevents up to 85 percent of all outside dirt and bacteria contaminants from entering a facility, according to the International Sanitary Supply Association.
Learn more about UniFirst’s wide line of functional and decorative floor mats at https://UniFirst.com/facility-services/commercial-floor-mats/.
In the battle against the spread of seasonal illnesses, and in this year’s case, a potential “twindemic,” UniFirst can help businesses in selecting the solutions that are right for them. Whether it’s weekly deliveries of soap, hand sanitizer, or surface disinfectants, a personalized floor mat program, or a combination of our facility service products, find out which solution is right for you and your business.