Readiness in the Event of an Outbreak
One thing the past year has taught us is that hospitals need to be prepared for a community coronavirus outbreak in order to maintain healthcare services. Headline after headline gives us news about hospitals being filled past capacity. Additionally, hospital-acquired infections have already been a risk to be cognizant of when managing a healthcare facility. Now, though, they have become a hot-button talking point. Facilities are full of patients with the highly contagious virus. In order to help facilities prepare for the influx of positive patients and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control has devised a checklist to ensure hospitals’ readiness.
An Outline to Develop a Comprehensive Plan
Hospitals of different sizes and various specialties will of course have slightly different needs. However, this outline can be altered accordingly and be used to develop a comprehensive checklist to meet each facilities’ demands. It outlines the development and implementation of a planning committee and written outbreak plans. It also includes the necessary elements for that plan. Additionally, it stresses the importance of communication amongst departments, screening and monitoring procedures for patients, and training and education for staff. Finally, it offers a plan for visitor access and management. The full checklist can be found here.
An EPA-Approved Disinfectant
In the section concerning medical equipment and supplies, the CDC recommends “EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectants to allow for frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces and shared patient care equipment”. Additionally, the EPA maintains “List N“. This is a list of products “expected to kill all strains and variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions”. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution is included on this list. It features a 55-second kill time against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Powered by Thymox technology, free of bleach and other hazardous chemicals, this all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant also kills 99.9% of bacteria in two minutes, 99.9% of fungi and molds in three minutes, and 99.9% of viruses in four minutes.
Cleanliness is always of the utmost importance when it comes to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Hospital-acquired infections (also known as healthcare-associated infections, or HAI) are a very real danger. However, clean and sanitary facilities can cut down the risk of them considerably. During the coronavirus pandemic, though, this goal has taken on an even greater significance. Some experts from the University of North Carolina detailed some strategies that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are implementing to combat the spread of COVID-19.
An Effective Disinfectant at an Increased Frequency
Emily Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, director of UNC Medical Center Infection Prevention, says that COVID-19 “is actually one of the easiest pathogens to eliminate with disinfection”. It’s important, though, that janitorial staffs are using a hospital and EPA-approved disinfectant. Furthermore, these staffs are cleaning more often than they were prior to the pandemic. For example, UNC Health’s Environmental Services team is disinfecting areas like the emergency department, lobbies, waiting rooms, restrooms, and hallways every two hours. In addition to the usual sweeping and mopping, they’re also paying special attention to high-touch areas like countertops and chairs.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities take steps to separate COVID-19-positive patients from other patients. This helps to reduce the spread of the virus. Dr. Sickbert-Bennett speaks of screening processes integrated with electronic medical record systems. These measures can alert staff and keep track of patients with COVID. Hospitals are also taking extra steps to separate patients in the emergency room.
Patients in hospitals often need to be moved from one area of the facility to another. Accordingly, healthcare facilities are implementing extra steps to ensure their safety. For example, after taking a patient from a testing lab to their room, UNC Health staff returns the stretchers or wheelchairs to a new cleaning station in their equipment storage area where they get a thorough disinfection.
While these steps were designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, many are bound to become the new norm as hospitals learn to provide a safer environment more efficiently.
Streamlining and Improving Healthcare Facility Cleaning Plans
Cleaning and disinfecting have always had a special significance in the healthcare industry. Facilities need to be doing all they can to ensure the safety of patients and staff alike. Cleaning programs should always be evaluated to make sure teams are delivering the safest possible environment in the most efficient manner. Bioesque Solutions was founded on the principle that there is a better, safer way to clean, and with this in mind, here are a few tips to streamline and improve your healthcare facility cleaning program.
Move Toward Sustainability
As more companies begin to realize their benefits, sustainable practices have become the norm for all types of businesses, including healthcare facilities. LED lights, water-saving plumbing fixtures, and buying locally are all practices that can both reduce a hospital’s carbon footprint and lower costs. Switching to green cleaning products, free from hazardous chemicals, can also improve the overall health of a facility without sacrificing effectiveness.
Monitor Air Quality
Air contaminants can cause and exacerbate health problems. particularly in patients with respiratory issues. In addition to replacing harsh chemicals with green solutions, ventilation systems should be cleaned, and filters replaced often. This will improve the air quality of your facility.
Maintain a Clean Image and Improve Patient Experience
The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey is an excellent tool to give administrators and cleaning teams a new perspective on their facility. It’s a means to bring attention to areas that may be overlooked due to familiarity.
Bioesque Solutions offers a full range of botanically-derived products to handle a wide variety of healthcare facility needs. Our Botanical Disinfectant Solution, Carpet Cleaner, Odor Neutralizer, and Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish are just a few effective ways to move toward a safer, cleaner, and greener healthcare facility.
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Protecting
Maintaining the cleanliness of hospitals and other healthcare facilities isn’t just important for patients and staff – it’s essential for the health of the entire surrounding community. Additionally, cleaning healthcare facilities is much more involved than merely emptying the trash and running a vacuum over the carpet. The constant influx of patients with contagions and delicate health issues makes every high-traffic area a potential hazard. Furthermore, the sheer size of some hospitals can make cleaning a daunting task. It’s helpful then to have a detailed plan in place for regular cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing your healthcare facility.
The Importance of Cleaning
Cleaning clears dirt, debris, and micro-organisms from surfaces, making them less hospitable for pathogens. Industrial-strength vacuums are also important. These vacuums usually feature HEPA filters, which can remove 99% of airborne particles. When it comes to mopping, be sure to use a two-bucket process. This ensures that waste is kept separate from the cleaning solution. Furthermore, mops should be completely cleaned and dried after each use. Finally, all involved staff should be wearing the proper personal protective equipment when cleaning.
The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfection
While cleaning removes micro-organisms from surfaces and slows their proliferation, disinfection actually kills them. When disinfecting, be sure to pay particular attention to high-touch surfaces like counters, chairs, railings, and handles, along with all treatment areas. The Environmental Protection Agency’s List-N is a guide of products that are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used in accordance with directions. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution is a List-N product and features a 55-second kill time against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
Handling Medical Waste
Healthcare facilities generate waste such as used medical supplies, lab refuse, blood, and other bodily fluids. These items must be designated as medical waste and have special procedures for handling and disposal. All cleaning staff must be trained to recognize, handle, and dispose of this type of waste
When devising a healthcare facility cleaning program, keep these guidelines in mind. Ensure the entire staff is on the same page and each employee knows their responsibility. Further resources can be found on the CDC’s Healthcare page.
Welcoming Your Guests Back
COVID-19 has been brutal on restaurants but, luckily, those who made it through are beginning to allow in-person dining again. This is an excellent time to review some best practices for restaurant cleaning to provide a safe, sanitary environment for guests and ensure repeat visits.
Foodborne Illness is Restaurant Enemy #1
A food-related outbreak of diseases like E. coli and norovirus can be a disaster for a restaurant. Consider Chipotle, hit with a $25 million fine after instances of E. coli, norovirus, and salmonella outbreaks in 2014. Proper and frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. As we’ve all learned in the COVID era, 20 seconds with soap and warm water is enough. Other things to watch for are sick staff members, poor food storage practices, and improperly cleaned workstations. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution can clean and disinfect in one step, kills E. coli in two minutes and norovirus in four, and is safe for food-touch areas.
Know the Health Department’s Guidelines
Skipping on these out of ignorance or carelessness can mean temporary closures or having to display a low grade somewhere in your establishment. Both will cost you money. These guidelines were devised to make sure restaurants are providing clean, safe environments. Use them to guide you as you develop a cleaning plan for your business.
Keep the Critters at Bay
Another thing that can destroy a restaurant’s reputation is a guest seeing a roach during a visit. Or, worse yet, finding one in their food. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to make your restaurant as inhospitable as possible to pests. This means storing food properly in airtight containers, making sure food residue is cleaned up at workstations and in coolers, and taking trash bags out to the dumpster several times a day. Signs that you might have a pest problem are chewed containers, rodent droppings, and flies in the food prep area.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
It does no good to have the kitchen staff following best practices for cleaning if the servers are going to contaminate the food before it reaches the guest and vice versa. Make sure everyone on your team knows the guidelines for proper hygiene, food safety, and general cleanliness. Stick to your standards and make them a habit.
Think About Customer Perception
Following the Health Department guidelines will ensure your business is safe and sanitary, but you can really give your restaurant’s dining experience a boost by putting yourself in the guest’s shoes. Think about the little details that can make or break a night out. Does your dining area seem welcoming? How do the floors look? Are the salt and pepper shakers full? What about the toilet paper in the restrooms? Walk through your entire establishment to try to find things you’ve overlooked. You could also ask a friend to come in and eat and be as critical as possible, writing down everything they see in a notebook. Sometimes a set of fresh eyes helps. The goal is the best customer experience possible and using these tips as a starting point will get your restaurant there in no time.
A Variety of Needs, a Variety of Products
Restaurants have both high-traffic and specialized areas that require a variety of cleaning products. Dining areas, lobbies, restrooms, and kitchens all have special needs that we must attend to. What works great for cleaning your kitchen’s air vents is totally inappropriate for guests’ tables. Here is a list of important considerations to think about when purchasing cleaning products for your restaurant.
Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
This has taken on a special importance over the last couple of years. Cleaning refers to the process of removing dirt and other impurities from a surface. On the other hand, disinfecting actually kills the viruses and bacteria in an area. Both are necessary to help reduce the spread of pathogens.
What Jobs Can Each Product Handle?
Knowing the versatility of what you’re purchasing can help you cut down costs in the long run. A good all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant is always a good investment. However, such products probably won’t be powerful enough to handle the grease that can accumulate in the kitchen. Read each product label closely and make the best decision for your specific restaurant.
How Much Should I Buy?
This is a bit of a balancing act. You’ll have to consider how often you’ll be using each product and how much you’ll need before the next order. You should also think about how much space you have for storage and how much each product will take up. For example, if you use tablets to clean your deep fryer, you can probably go ahead and buy in bulk to save cost as they don’t have much of a footprint.
How Safe Are These Products?
Many cleaning products are full of harsh and toxic chemicals like bleach, chlorine, or phosphates. Furthermore, even milder products aren’t necessarily safe for food-touch surfaces. Again, read the label carefully and think about where this chemical will be used and how often.
How Do These Products Affect the Environment?
If ecological responsibility is important to your business and clientele, there are environmentally friendly products available. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution is botanically derived and free of the harsh chemicals mentioned above. It’s also an excellent all-purpose cleaner, handling both cleaning and disinfecting, and is safe for food-touch surfaces.
Providing a Safe, Sanitary Environment
For all the difficulties coronavirus has caused, restaurateurs have been able to take comfort in the fact that food is an inhospitable environment for the virus. This allowed many restaurants to stay afloat by turning to take-out and online food deliveries. Fortunately, though, state restrictions are lifting all over the country and dining areas are filling back up. However, these customers – along with servers and other staff – want to know that ownership is doing everything they can to keep them safe. Here are some tips to keep your staff happy and your customers coming back for a return visit.
It Starts with Effective Supplies
List-N is a group of products that the EPA expects to kill all strains and variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution is included on List-N at features a 55-second kill time against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19). Furthermore, it’s no-rinse-required, even on food contact surfaces, making it an excellent choice for kitchens and dining areas. Some other supplies to you’ll always want to have on hand are bottles of hand sanitizer and soap, stainless steel cleaner, bleach, paper towels, and plenty of food prep gloves.
Take Care of the Front-of-House
The lobby, cash registers, and main counters get the most frequent outside traffic in a restaurant. Therefore, it’s the area that’s most likely to become contaminated. Think about installing a plexiglass shield around the register as that area often has faces in close proximity. Also, make sure to keep two large bottles of hand sanitizer nearby, one for guests and one for employees. Additionally, make sure you’re frequently disinfecting the entire front door, paying extra attention to handles, push plates, and the edges. Disinfect counters, phones, and cash registers at least three times per day and do the same with high-touch areas in the restrooms.
Put the Cellphones Away
Cellphones are among the germiest objects we come in contact with throughout the day. Touching a phone and then a workstation, table, silverware, etc. is a very easy way to spread pathogens around your establishment, resulting in sick employees and sick customers. Make sure everyone working a shift knows to leave their cellphone alone unless it’s absolutely essential. The same goes for other high-touch personal objects like wallets and car keys.
Check CDC Guidelines
Even taking solid precautions such as these can’t guarantee your business will be safe from the coronavirus. Have a plan in place in the event of an outbreak. The CDC offers plenty of help concerning plans for contact-tracing so check their site often to make sure you’re keeping abreast of the latest information. And if you’re experiencing symptoms, be sure to self-isolate and contact your doctor.
Profitability and Perception
Over the past decades and particularly in an era where climate change is a hot topic, we have seen increasing consumer demand for sustainable business practices. What was once thought to be a passing fad is quickly becoming the new normal. While business owners were initially hesitant to get on board, they soon found that a move toward sustainability can increase profitability. Green products are less costly and more effective than ever before. Furthermore, a sustainable practice includes actively searching for ways to eliminate, reduce, or recycle waste, which in turn reduces expense. Here are some sustainable practices to apply to your food service or restaurant business.
A Move to LED Lighting
LED light fixtures are about three times more energy efficient than fluorescents and almost eight times more efficient than traditional incandescent fixtures. Additionally, LED light bulbs last, on average, up to eight times longer than other bulbs.
Reduce Water Usage
Moving to low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances can reduce water usage by almost 30%.
Paper, Not Plastic
To-go food is very popular, especially in our era of restaurant restrictions. Paper products are biodegradable and recyclable while plastic ones wind up in a landfill for years.
Restaurants generate plenty of food waste and composting rather than trashing can promote eco-friendly farming in your community.
Buying locally will cut down on transportation costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Furthermore, advertising locally sourced ingredients is a great draw for the eco-minded guest.
Green Cleaning Products
Traditional cleaning products are full of harsh, toxic chemicals. Employees hate using them and guests hate smelling them. However, there are botanically derived alternatives available that offer an environmentally friendly solution without sacrificing any effectiveness.
Protecting the Environment and Increasing Positive Customer Perception
This is obviously not a complete list, but it should give you an idea of a place to start. Other easy strategies to implement could include making straws optional, eliminating styrofoam usage, energy-saving appliances, and donations to food banks. All will reduce your energy usage, waste, and cost. Ultimately, this is good for the environment, your bottom line, and your standing with the green guest.
Cleaner, Safer, and More Productive
If you want to learn a warehouse’s effectiveness at a glance, just take a look at how clean it is. Beyond being merely better organized, clean warehouses are safer and more productive. Some of the benefits to safety should be pretty obvious. For example, if a forklift leaks oil and no one cleans up the puddles, it creates a serious slip hazard. Similarly, piles of disorganized pallets or packing debris can limit visibility and increase the likelihood of an accident.
However, the benefits of a cleaner warehouse go deeper than that. A disorganized workspace leads to disorganized workers. Dirt or grime caked up all over racks sends a message to your employees that you’re not worried about the details. And if you’re not worried about them, they’re not going to worry about them, either. On the other hand, a clean, pleasant place to work with a place for everything and everything in its place will tell your team that you take pride in your organization from top to bottom. Here are a few tips for a cleaner warehouse to keep your employees healthy and productive.
Have a Plan and Set Goals
The sheer size of some facilities can be a little overwhelming. Furthermore, trying to do it all at once will compound the problem. Instead, devise a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedule. Some tasks should be done daily or once per shift. For example, floors can be done once per shift and during that task, leaks, damage, and other outstanding issues can be spotted and addressed immediately. On the other hand, racks could probably be wiped down once a month. Create a calendar or a checklist to make sure everything is being handled according to schedule.
Get Your Employees Involved
Assign areas of the facility to each employee and make it their responsibility to take care of it before they finish their shift. This is an easy way to make sure floors stay clean, trash cans get emptied regularly, and materials stay organized.
Invest in Quality Supplies and Make Them Readily Available
If your workers have to walk all the way to the other side of the facility to get a broom or to find a trash can, they become far less likely to do those things. Keep trash cans near everyone’s work areas and have several broom closets. You may also want to consider investing in green cleaning supplies. Traditional cleaners like ammonia and bleach are full of harsh chemicals and result in lower air quality in your facility. They often also require extra personal protective equipment. Green cleaners like Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution are botanically derived, making them a good choice for environmentally conscious organizations.
Stay Consistent and Committed
Clean warehouses are the result of committed leadership with a clear and consistent vision. Devising a plan, letting everyone know their roles, and creating goals to work toward will ensure your facility stays clean and organized. As a result, your employees will be healthier and more productive.
Difficult, but Not Unmanageable
Factories are complex, often massive structures with many specialized areas. You have the production floor, administrative offices, kitchens, cafeterias, breakrooms, and bathrooms. Furthermore, with so many workers moving in and out, all of these are high-traffic areas at least part of the time. All this adds up to make factories very difficult places to keep clean and healthy. However, it’s not impossible. Here are ten keys to a cleaner, healthier factory.
Plan It Out
Without planning, some of those areas mentioned above are bound to be neglected. Take the time to do a walkthrough of the entire building and take copious notes. You’ll want to pay specific attention to high-touch areas, waste receptacles, bathrooms, food areas, etc. Once you have an idea of what needs to be done, you can start parceling out the work on a planned schedule
Stock the Right Supplies for the Job
Brooms, mops, buckets, hand scrubbers, and gloves…these are just the beginning. You’ll also need disinfectant, floor cleaner, surface sealant, degreaser, and more. The exact list will vary according to your company’s needs, but these will give you a basic idea of where you need to begin.
Keeping the floors of a factory clean is a daily struggle. Constant traffic means floors get dirty quickly and that dirt becomes a breeding ground for germs. Make sure floors are swept and mopped once per shift to keep them from becoming haves of grime and pathogens. Consider investing in a sprayer to apply a heavy-duty disinfectant as well.
The Air Vents
Like floors, air vents accumulate dirt and dust quickly. Unlike floors, though, they can often be overlooked. Making sure your air vents are cleaned regularly will ensure good, healthy airflow.
Windows are another means for airflow and as such, they should also be cleaned regularly. Even if the windows are merely decorative, keeping them clean will add to the air of professionalism on your production floor.
For tougher jobs, use a pressure washer with hot water to blast away caked-up grime. If oil and grease is a problem, add a heavy-duty degreaser to the water, let it dwell, and rinse. Repeat as necessary.
As you do your walkthrough, start looking for items that no longer serve a purpose. Your floor managers and team leaders will have a good idea of what is being used when so include them in the conversation. By trimming all inessentials, you can make your space much more efficient and the task of cleaning much easier.
All Hands on Deck
A common saying on the floor is “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” Make sure employees are pitching in and cleaning becomes much more manageable.
Schedule a Deep Cleaning
If your lines run 24 hours a day, a full cleaning can be very difficult. Make sure to schedule the occasional deep cleaning for the areas that can’t be reached during production.
Consider a Professional Cleaning Crew
Cost and size of the job are key here. If you have a massive building with multiple lines running 24 hours a day, it might be more cost-effective to invest in a professional cleaning staff rather than use production team resources. Professionals also carry the expertise to get the job done more quickly and efficiently than line workers.
Factories are like cities unto themselves. This can make cleaning them seem like an insurmountable task. However, by using these keys as your starting point, you’ll ensure a clean, safe, and healthy work environment.