Flu Season: What BSCs Can Do
This year’s flu season has proven to be among the worst, with experts estimating 34 million Americans will catch the virus, resulting in tens of thousands requiring hospitalization.
Building service contractors are among those at the frontline of this issue, and as such, can play an important role in helping to break the chain of infection. We spoke with BSCAI members to discuss what BSCs can do during this critical time and – more importantly – what can be done to prepare for the next flu season.
What is the role of the building service contractor in flu prevention? When flu season winds down, what should BSCs do to stay prepared for the next season?
Larklyn Milstein, President, American Empire Building Services, BSCAI Board Member: At American Empire Building Services, we consider ourselves to be technicians of the public health. It is critical that we go beyond cleaning for appearance alone, and focus on best practices for infection prevention. During flu season, that focus turns up to 11. We increase frequency of disinfecting touch points like doorknobs, phone receivers, cupboard handles, and drawer pulls. We place hand-sanitizing gel at strategic places around the building. We also proactively educate the client about the importance of sick people staying home and encourage them to do the same with building occupants.
When flu season draws to a close, we remind frontline cleaners to not let down their guard when it comes to infection prevention. Our job is to create a healthy environment year-round. We make sure we are stocked up on hand gel well before the demand kicks in for the next flu season. We also encourage the client to educate building occupants about the importance of flu shots, even suggesting that they offer them for free at work. Since the flu is highly contagious, the best preparation is prevention.
Bryan Lazorik, CBSE, President, Bryco Services, BSCAI Board Member: BSCs play a crucial role in flu prevention. Regularly disinfecting touchpoints is an important step in breaking the chain of infection and preventing the spread of the flu virus. It’s important to realize that the most contaminated surfaces in a building are those that are repeatedly touched by people, such as faucets, toilet handles, doorknobs, telephones and elevator buttons. Proper disinfection of these surfaces breaks the chain of infection and stops the spread of viruses and bacteria.
In the modern realm of facility cleaning, cleaning a commercial office or educational classroom is very similar to cleaning healthcare facilities, in the fact that disinfection is key to maintaining a healthy environment. Preventing the spread of viruses by disinfection should be the standard of cleaning for the entire year. Ongoing employee training on how to properly disinfect is vital the success of a disinfection program. Disinfection efforts are meaningless if untrained employees diminish dwell times or cross contaminate microfibers. Proper follow up, inspections and retraining, if needed, will ensure your team is delivering the highest level of service to your customers.
Matthew Teriberry, Business Development Director, B&T Contractors, Inc.: Our role as a company is to provide a clean and sanitary environment for our customers so their employees and customers can stay healthy and productive. Being the frontline protection for these customers means we need to make sure our staff is using the right protection to keep themselves safe, the right products to eliminate the virus and the right procedures for sanitizing and removing the virus.
It’s important for BSCs to review and evaluate the previous flu season and how their staff did to prevent and eliminate the virus. By evaluating how you performed in the previous season, it helps you prepare for how to handle the next flu season. This allows a company to improve the areas they had weaknesses in and allows for more training, trying new products and staff preparation.