Best Practices for Infection Control

August 11, 2020

Lessons Manufacturers, Schools, Retailers, and General Businesses Can Take from the Healthcare Industry
Healthcare professionals are experts on infection control, employing practices and protocols that other businesses can use to improve workplace safety. Including just a few of these practices as part of your health and hygiene protocols could help reduce work or revenue loss due to illness.

 

Hand Cleanliness
Speed is not the goal when it comes to handwashing. To stop the spread of germs, rinsing our hands for three seconds under running water is simply not effective. To remove bacteria and viruses, it's important to clean all surfaces on hands (front, back, and between fingers) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Watch CDC video - What You Need to Know About Handwashing >>

An acceptable alternative for hand cleanliness is the now-ubiquitous hand sanitizer. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have long made this option conveniently available for staff and visitors. If you can't wash your hands, sanitizing them is the next best thing.

Learn more - Is Your Hand Sanitizer Safe? >>

 

Lesson: Be Transparent
To instill confidence, healthcare staff are encouraged, and sometimes required, to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer in plain view of patients.

In your facility, to instill confidence with customers and coworkers, consider permanently adding a handwashing or hand sanitizing routine based around daily activities and not just after using the bathroom.

  • Schools
    • Have students wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when they first enter the building, after recess, and/or before and after lunch.
  • Manufacturers, retailers, and general businesses
    • Keep hand sanitizer readily available for employees at building entrances and lunch room entrances/exits. Keep liquid hand soap and an ample supply of paper towels at lunch room/kitchen sinks.

 

Disinfecting Surfaces
Preventing cross-contamination is the name of the disinfecting game. We know germs live on surfaces. We know that high-traffic surfaces should be cleaned frequently and other surfaces should be cleaned regularly. But do you know if how you're cleaning your surfaces is actually working?

 

Lesson: Read Labels
Disinfecting wipes and sprays are an acceptable alternative when soap and water can't be used, such as between routine cleanings. But every disinfectant works differently because of its active ingredient and the germ(s) you're trying to kill. Some work faster than others, so if you're not following the label instructions, you may not be doing the job right.

Learn more - Understanding Disinfectant Kill Times >>

  • Schools, manufacturing, retailers, and general businesses
    • Review your current disinfectant to make sure its kill times (also known as contact times) are appropriate for where they're being used. Consider using different disinfectants for different areas.
    • Create a disinfectant spreadsheet that includes the name of each disinfectant your facility uses, their contact times, and use instructions. Post this document on your company intranet.

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Gloves, gowns, masks, and face shields act as physical barriers to germs. There are several levels of protection based on the infectiousness of the germs you're trying to stop from spreading. But even the highest level of protection is only effective when these items are properly put on (don) and taken off (doff).

 

Lesson: Don't Assume
Putting on and taking off gloves and masks may seem like an innocuous action that shouldn't need explaining. But when it comes to preventing the spread of infection, training is necessary.  Follow the example set by the healthcare industry and provide your staff training on how to properly don and doff personal protective equipment. It can be as simple as hanging instructional posters and providing links to reputable videos.

Learn more - Proper Protocols for Hand Hygiene and PPE Usage >>

  • Schools, manufacturing, retailers, and general businesses
    • Consider adding annual refresher courses in proper PPE usage as well as making them on-demand for team members who want a mid-year update.
      • Add video links to your company or school's intranet site.
      • Post instructional signs in employee break rooms.
      • Ask one or two team members to become the resident PPE expert so the rest of your staff have someone to turn to with questions.

 

Waste Management
Throwing out used items seems like a no-brainer, but have you considered what is happening to all those disinfecting wipes and disposable gloves, masks, and face shields you're providing your employees? They're being thrown out, right? But where?

 

Lesson: Think Strategically
Lack of access to waste containers creates an opportunity for germ-laden wipes and PPE to be left on counters or tables or taken out of the building. Take the lead from healthcare facilities and increase the number of trash cans around your facility, and more importantly, place them close to where the end-of-use occurs.

  • Manufacturers
    • Place no-touch waste containers at time clocks so that PPE can be thrown out at the end of the workday.
  • Schools, manufacturing, retailers, and general businesses
    • Entryways
    • Bathrooms
      • Many people use a paper towel to open the bathroom door when exiting. Place a touch-free waste container near the door so the paper towels can be thrown away immediately.
    • PPE stations

If you need help reimagining workplace safety, please give us a call. Our team members have over 45 years of combined healthcare industry and workplace safety experience that we regularly tap into to help our customers in the retail, manufacturing, and general business sectors. 





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