Sick Office Workers Still Show Up for Work, According to New Flu Season Survey

sick office workerIn an average year, the flu contributes to an estimated 70 million missed days of work – which calculates into roughly $10 billion in lost office productivity.

Flu season is just about to arrive, which means a multitude of employee sick days are just around the corner – or are they?

According to a new flu season survey conducted by Staples, almost 80 percent of office workers show up for work, even when they know they’re sick. This number is up 20 percent over the past year. And for those who elect to stay home, nearly two-thirds return to the office when they’re still contagious.

When asked about their office habits, the survey also demonstrated that office workers continue to make preventable errors that fuel the spread of office germs:

  • 51 percent of employees surveyed clean their desk once per week or less. Germs can live on surfaces for up three days – especially on keyboards (traditionally one of the dirtiest workspace areas).
  • 25 percent of those surveyed believed that door handles were the least sanitary place in the office, when it’s actually the break room sink, followed by the office microwave.
  • 65 percent of survey participants believed that individuals sick with the flu are contagious for a total of 1-3 days, when in actuality the flu virus is contagious at least a day prior to symptoms and for an additional 5-7 days after becoming sick.

So why are employees going to work when they’re still sick? They’re concerned about completing unfinished work.

Image Credit: Flickr

Commercial Cleaning Tips: Five Ways to Prevent the Flu in Your Workplace

Between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will contract the flu this year according to the U.S. Department of Health. Minimize the spread of disease and protect your employees by following some of our commercial cleaning tips below:

Promote employee hand washing

Habitual hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of illness among employees. Make hand washing easier for your employees by providing automatic hand dryers and bulk foaming hand soap.

Disinfect high touch areas

Areas of your office where that receive a lot of touch (keyboards, door handles, phones), should be disinfected on a regular basis.

Deep restroom cleaning

If you saw our last post on clean restroom tips, you already know that restroom hygiene is essential to your company’s reputation. It’s also essential to employee health. Your restrooms should receive extra care during flu season.

Use entrance mats

Entrance mats are an effective way to trap harmful germs from entering your workplace, but soiled mats can also be a breeding ground for harmful microbes and bacteria. Make sure to keep them clean throughout the day.

Keep your floors tidy

A dirty floor can contain more than two million bacteria per square inch. To reduce bacteria throughout your workplace, use tools specifically designed to reduce and prevent cross contamination.

Foaming Hand Soap, Antimicrobial Surfaces and Other Tips for Improving the Hygiene of Your Restroom

foaming hand soapNo one likes a dirty restroom. In fact, a recent study found that 94 percent of adults would actually avoid a business in the future if they encountered an unkempt public restroom. The state of your restroom contributes to your reputation – so it’s time to clean up! Improve your restroom hygiene with the tips below:

Antimicrobial surfaces – Many hand dryer manufacturers already specialize in antimicrobial technology, which can fend off the build-up of harmful bacteria such as MRSA and E. coli. You can expand the use of antimicrobial to your wall paint, flooring, counter-tops and even your toilets.

Automatic soap dispensers – Though it may not actually be unhygienic, a soap mess on your counter top doesn’t look very clean. Swap out your liquid dispensers for drip-free foaming hand soap dispensers and avoid a pool of soap on your counter-tops.

Automatic hand dryers – Similar to liquid soap dispensers, a pile of used paper towels can really hinder the appearance of your restroom and actually discourage hand washing. Automatic hand dryers will make your restroom appear tidy and the’lly also reduce your purchasing needs for bulk janitorial supplies.

Pay attention to your restroom design – Though most people don’t consider the design of a public restroom, it can make a huge difference in functionality. There are certain standards such as height and distance that should be followed when designing your bathroom. For example:

  • Countertops should be 34” high
  • Urinals should be 17” high
  • Toilet seats should be 17-19” high.

Seek the consult of a professional to make sure your restroom follows these essential guidelines.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Germ Hotspots Exposed

Germ Hotspots

Just because something looks clean, doesn’t mean it is. Be cautious around the germ hotspots below and you may be able to avoid that extra sick day this winter.

Restaurant Menus

The next time you reach for that menu, you may want to consider the hundreds or thousands of people who have handled it before you. What are the chances your menu underwent a thorough sanitizing before your server plopped it down on your table? Probably slim to none. You should probably wash your hands before picking up that tasty burger.

Lime and Lemon Wedges

After ordering 21 drinks at various restaurants, researchers from the Journal of Environmental Health found 25 different microorganisms on the accompanying limes and lemons – including E. coli. Perhaps it would be best to skip the lemon and lime next time you find yourself ordering a vodka soda.

Restroom Door Knobs and Handles

Well this one shouldn’t be too much of a shocker. If you saw our last post on hand washing habits, you’ve realized that most Americans aren’t very diligent when it comes washing their hands post restroom. Reduce your chances of contamination by flushing with your foot and opening the door handle with a paper towel.

Grocery Carts

With flu and cold season just around the corner, more and more grocery stores are making disinfecting wipes available for customers to give their cart or basket a quick wipe down. According to the Journal of Medical Virology – flu and cold viruses can survive up to 18 hours on hard surfaces. As you can probably imagine, grocery carts are a breeding ground for bacteria. Take advantage of these free wipes or bring your own.

Free Food Samples

Though tempting, free mixed nuts at the bar are NEVER a good idea. Hand-to-food contact is one of the most common ways to spread foodborne illness. Even if you carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse, think about all of the people who can’t even bother to wash their hands. The next time you’re offered a communal bowel of tasty treats, just say pass.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Winter Safety Tips for Cleaning Professionals

Winter CleaningWinter is just around the corner, which means we’re in for some harsh weather, below freezing temperatures and heavy snowstorms. If you’re a cleaning professional, it’s time to start padding your current safety practices with some extra precaution.

Bulk cleaning supplies aren’t enough to keep everyone safe during the long winter months. Nearly eight million emergency room visits each year are the result of an accidental slip or fall – making prevention a top concern for most cleaning professionals.

  • Take extra care with building entryways. These high traffic areas should always be uncluttered and free of debris.
  • Always have ice melt on hand in advance of an upcoming winter storm.
  • The winter months are much darker, which calls for additional lighting. Ensure all entryways are well lit throughout the day, instead of just turning them on during night time hours.
  • Keep your eye out for ice build-up around outdoor water sources like gutters and downspouts. Ice patches are common in these regions.
  • Make sure you have a matt system in place for the winter months to keep walkways throughout your building clean and dry.
Stay tuned for more cleaning tips from the National Purity Blog this winter.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

New Hand Washing Survey Reveals Some Gross Statistics

Most of us can agree that regular, thorough hand washing is an essential component to good health, but that doesn’t mean we actually practice what we preach. According to a new survey conducted by KRC Research for the global hygiene company SCA, Americans aren’t washing their hands as much as they should.

The survey interviewed 1,000 adults across the country and found the following:

  • 71% claimed to wash their hands on a regular basis
  • 58% have witnessed others leave a public restroom without hand washing
  • 35% have witnessed a co-worker leave the restroom without hand washing
  • 20% have witnessed a restaurant worker leave the restroom without hand washing

With flu season just around the corner, regular hand washing is even more important – especially for restaurant workers. So how can we encourage better hand hygiene habits?

According to the study, 61 percent of respondents were more apt to wash their hands if they considered the public restroom they were using to be clean and orderly. Simple restroom upgrades like hands-free faucets or hands-free hand soap dispensers, as well as paper towels and bulk cleaning supplies also increased their likelihood for hand washing.

Check out the infographic breakdown below.

Vote for America’s Best Bathroom

Public RestroomIt’s that time of year again… Cintas’ annual America’s Best Restroom Contest!

When it comes to public restrooms, most of us really appreciate a little creativity and a lot of cleaning. There’s nothing more unpleasant than an unkempt public restroom, but sometimes there’s just no way of getting around it.

Fortunately, there is a growing number of companies that are going the extra mile to create the most memorable (in a good way) restrooms imaginable.

Check out this year’s finalists below:

  • Buc-ee’s New Braunfels, Texas
  • Da Marino Ristorante Italiano New York, New York
  • Gitane Restaurant San Francisco, California
  • Hollywood Bowl Hollywood, California
  • Lane Stadium/Worsham Field at Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Liberty Market Gilbert, Arizona
  • Mie N Yu Restaurant Washington, DC
  • Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, Illinois
  • Vanity Nightclub Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Walker Art Center Minneapolis, Minnesota

This year you can view photos of the finalists and vote for your favorite online. The polls are open through Friday, October 26, so you better cast your vote quick!

The winner and runner-up will be announced during a nationally publicized event in November.


Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Industrial Cleaning Supplies FAQs: Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing

cleaning supplies
What’s the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing?

Though these three industrial cleaning supplies are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing. Cleaning is an action performed to remove dust, dirt and residue from a soiled surface. While surfaces may appear hygienic after a thorough cleaning, basic cleaning does not address harmful microorganisms.

Disinfecting on top of cleaning adds another layer of safety because it’s performed to remove 100% germs and bacterial that can spread disease or infection. Like disinfecting, sanitizing works to remove harmful microorganisms, however, it’s not quite as strong. Sanitizing reduces the number of microorganisms to a safe level, but it does not eliminate all of them. Sanitizers also cannot kill viruses or fungi.

In general, disinfectants are frequently used in healthcare settings, while sanitizers are often required in the food service industry.

How are germs spread?

Germs are spread through three different mechanisms: direct contact, indirect contact, airborne spread.

1) Direct contact means that germs are spread from one infected person to another. An example of this is when an infected person coughs or sneezes into his or her hands and then touches another person before washing.

2) Indirect contact means that germs are spread from an infected person to another person through a common surface or object. An example of this is when an infected person shares eating utensils with another person.

3) Airborne spread means when germs are spread through the air from an infected person to an uninfected person over short distances. When someone coughs or sneezes, small germ-filled droplets are sprayed into the air. Anyone within a three foot radius can be infected.

Is it possible to clean and disinfect at the same time?

The short answer is sometimes. In order to properly disinfect, the disinfectant must come into direct contact with the target surface area. This may not be possible if there is a heavy barrier of dirt, grime or grease present. In other words, it’s possible to simultaneously clean and disinfect, but only under slightly soiled conditions. An industrial cleaner containing bleach may be able to clean and disinfect at the same time.

What does it mean when a disinfectant is “EPA-registered”?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the production and sale of all  disinfectants. All EPA-registered industrial cleaner disinfectants must comply with several regulations regarding raw materials, label strength, processing, safety, efficacy and shelf life.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Why Choose Green Commercial Cleaning Products?

green cleaningMaintaining a clean and sanitary office or work environment is an essential component to good health. The last thing you want to do is to introduce harmful chemicals into these environments.

Unfortunately, many of today’s commercial cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that have been linked to a variety of health conditions such as an increased risk of allergies, respiratory diseases, reproductive problems and even cancer.
By choosing green commercial cleaning products and supplies, you are reducing the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals and abrasive products.

Are Green Commercial Cleaning Products More Expensive?

Though many fear that green cleaning products will increase costs, they may actually reduce costs (especially on a large scale) in the long run. This is because many concentrated forms of commercial cleaning supplies require additional steps and safeguards for proper disposal.
By purchasing less hazardous cleaners, you may actually reduce or eliminate costs associated with disposing hazardous chemicals.

5 Tips for Choosing Green Cleaning Supplies

From equipment, to cleaning procedures to products, green sanitation involves a lot of consideration. If you’re thinking about going green, check out the tips below.

  1. Don’t buy products that contain harmful chemicals such as ammonia or chlorine. These chemicals can comprise air quality and irritate the eyes, nose or throat. These products are also very toxic. Too much exposure can be deadly.
  2. When it comes to vacuuming, choosing a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuum will minimize the effects of allergens and other airborne pollutants.
  3. All purpose and surface cleaners should contain plant-based solvents.
  4. Avoid green products that fail to disclose a list of ingredients on the product label. Always choose products you can trust.
  5. Products should be pH neutral (7.0), which is safer for both the environment and people.  Alkaline or acidic products may burn your skin.

Elva Walker Spillane Exhibit

Former National Purity CEO and National Director of the Soap and Detergent Association was honored by the Minnesota Historical Society with the opening of the Elva Walker Spillane Exhibit on September 11, 2012

The exhibit will be in the Library Lobby from August 28 – October 12, 2012.

The papers will become a permanent part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s Collection.