With the flu season fast approaching, building owners and facility managers should evaluate their cleaning and sanitation processes in preparation for potential outbreaks. The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst seasons in recent years, showing high severity across all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC estimates that an average of 5% to 20% of the U.S. population is impacted by the flu every year. Flu and virus outbreaks can have a big impact on the bottom line as a result of loss in productivity and revenue. A study done by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. earlier this year predicted that productivity losses across the nation for the 2017-2018 flu season could reach $15.4 billion.  

“While the severity of the flu season may fluctuate year over year, we know that there is a strong likelihood there will be cases occurring in every facility and building,” says Tim Kane, President and CEO of Goodway Technologies. “It’s important to be proactive and have a plan in place to prevent the flu virus from spreading.”

The flu virus is spread by the droplets made when people with the flu sneeze, cough or talk. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of others, or a person may contract the flu by touching an object, such as a door handle that has the flu virus on it. The ability for the flu virus to spread so quickly and easily can cause stress and concern among facility managers.

For the food and beverage industry, there are additional factors to consider. Not only can the flu impact productivity and health care costs, but the food industry is already under heightened scrutiny when it comes to safety precautions and prevention. Facility managers need to be concerned about affected individuals and their direct contact with the product or processing surfaces.

  • Provide Education: It’s critical to educate your employees on the importance of getting a flu vaccine. If possible, consider bringing someone onsite to provide the flu vaccines to make it easy and convenient. Educational materials and communication on proper hygiene skills is also beneficial, such as frequent hand washing, covering your coughs and sneezes, avoiding handshakes or close contact when possible and staying home when sick. 
  • Create a Plan: The next step is to have a plan for cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces regularly and in order to do that, you need the right equipment and products. Cleaning and sanitizing with the wrong product can cause even more issues than the original outbreak. Using the wrong solution could lead to important and costly equipment being destroyed. Bacteria and viruses can be lurking in a variety of cracks, crevices and on surfaces and in areas with water sensitive equipment that many liquid cleaners would ruin. The method of cleaning should also be considered. Manual wiping can lead to cross-contamination due to using soiled towels to apply the cleaner. It can also be ineffective due to gaps in coverage. Surface sanitation is extremely important for everyone, but it is especially important in prevention for those who have not received a flu shot.
  • Identify the Right Equipment: Last year, Goodway Technologies launched the BIOSPRAY® surface sanitation system that provides a faster, safer and more efficient sanitation in virtually all manufacturing and production environments, including dry food production facilities, sterile room environments, healthcare, schools and more. The cordless BIOSPRAY system uses an innovative CO2 delivery technology to safely and effectively apply EPA registered BIOSPRAY D2 sanitizer in a highly calibrated stream for full coverage that reaches smaller cracks and crevices.

Because it is not water-based, the BIOSPRAY D2 sanitizer is safe to use on electronics, conduit systems, motors, control panels, electrical infusers and other water-sensitive surfaces in plant facilities. Compared to trigger-spray bottles or wipes, the BIOSPRAY system delivers sanitation formula faster and more thoroughly. The technology reduces labor time by up to 63 percent while applying up to 88 percent less product, as validated by independent lab testing and certifications.

Another solution from Goodway is the GVC-18VAC, which offers the cleaning power of dry steam with the convenience of an integrated vacuum for wet pickup and extraction. It provides the ability to clean and sanitize almost any surface such as work tables, seats, carpets, desks, door handles, upholstery and more. The built-in vacuum system also has a unique UV-C germicidal light that kills the collected bacteria preventing it from entering back into the air.

“There are solutions out there to help minimize the spread of the flu virus and other illnesses,” says Kane. “Take the time to put proactive measures in place to protect your building’s occupants.”

For more information on Goodway’s industrial cleaning and maintenance products or how you can proactively prepare your facility for the flu season, please visit www.goodway.com.