Each year, the arrival of winter also brings the dreaded cold and flu season. The common viruses that spread this time of year move invisibly from hands onto surfaces and into the air through sneezing and coughing. Restaurants and hotels with near constant foot traffic can become breeding grounds for viruses that infect employees and customers.
By understanding the prevalence of influenza viruses and the common cold, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces consistently and promoting proper hand hygiene, foodservice and hospitality businesses can minimize the risks of cold and flu spreading within their facilities.
Understand the Risks
Adults catch 2-3 colds every year, each lasting an average of 7-10 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, various influenza viruses wreak havoc on global populations each year, including the 2017-2018 flu season, which resulted in 959,000 hospitalizations and nearly 80,000 deaths, according to CDC estimates.
Unfortunately, these viruses can negatively impact a business’ bottom line. The CDC says that each year, the flu causes U.S. employees to miss an estimated 17 million workdays, which results in a loss of about $7 billion per year due to sick days and lost productivity. Once businesses understand how the flu and common cold affect them financially, they are more inclined to look for ways to minimize the spread of these infections in their facilities.
Spread Hand Hygiene, Not Infections
Cold and flu viruses are notoriously contagious, especially via human hands. In fact, 80% of common infections – including the common cold and influenza – are spread by hands. With this in mind, businesses need to make it easy for their patrons and employees to wash their hands frequently and properly.
Best practices include keeping hand soap stocked in restrooms and food preparation areas, and using signage to promote washing hands the right way. To effectively remove germs, employees should lather palms, the backs of hands and between fingers for at least 20 seconds.
Outside of restrooms and kitchens, businesses can make it easy for visitors and staff to clean their hands by placing hand sanitizer dispensers in strategic, high-traffic locations like entranceways and common waiting areas. The dispensers themselves should have both an automatic dispensing capability and a manual option for uninterrupted hand hygiene in case batteries run out.
Choose the Right Products for High-Touch Surfaces
Imagine how many times each day customers and staff touch checkout counters and elevator buttons at hotels or door handles and menus at restaurants. There are a variety of surfaces that are constantly touched, running the risk that someone who has caught a virus, but doesn’t know it yet, will spread that virus through one simple touch.
Seek out disinfectant cleaners that harness the power of Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide®. This ensures they will be fast-acting, non-toxic and sustainable. The active ingredient in AHP®, hydrogen peroxide (an effective pathogen-killer), breaks down into just water and oxygen minutes after use. Stock disinfectant cleaners in ready-to-use trigger spray bottles and wipes that have minimal dwell times to encourage regular use. The product should also have an extensive list of kill claims to thoroughly eliminate viruses, bacteria and more.
Moving Toward a Healthier Business
During cold and flu season, with coughs and sneezes swirling around, it can seem like a daunting task to keep facilities hygienic and free of contagious, common viruses. But with the proper perspective on how pervasive and fiscally harmful these viruses can be, an effective strategy to promote hand hygiene and quality products to tackle pathogens on surfaces, businesses can take major strides toward fighting the flu and the common cold.