This Norovirus statistic’serves as a reminder to businesses across the country to maintain high levels of hygiene so that any potential illness outbreak doesn’t spread through the entire office, and impact the business operations. With 80 per cent of viruses and most bacteria transmissible through touch, it’s not surprising offices can become a hot-bed of germs. Communal areas such as meeting rooms and the canteen must be subject to vigilant daily and weekly cleaning routines, which should always include the door handles and other high frequency touch points. Alongside effective handwashing, this is one of the most powerful tools in the fight against Norovirus and other illnesses. It will help maintain a consistent level of hygiene, while “hot spots” such as kitchen sinks and employee washrooms should be given extra cleaning attention. The fight against bacteria Offices must undertake a professional deep clean annually, to maintain a baseline level of hygiene that daily cleaners can keep on top of. One of the best weapons is microbial landscape mapping (we use an ATP bioluminescence reader), often undertaken in a hygiene health check. This tells us where the highest concentrations of germs are in the office, and these data points allow us to target our clean-ups in the high-risk areas. Then use manual infection control cleaning resources in the zones that register a microbiological reservoir of infectious pathogenic material (objects such as desks, or spaces such as the kitchen). The areas of lesser concern should thereafter?be treated with Ultra Low Volume (ULV) disinfectant fogging, to sanitise high-footfall areas and busy office spaces. Fogging is a technique which enables treatment of large areas in a short space of time, generating a visible mist of tiny droplets of disinfectant, measuring 5-50 microns in diameter. ULV significantly reduces the number of potentially harmful pathogens. Using best-practice decontamination and cleaning techniques, coupled with the most advanced chemicals, areas can be cleaned to the highest of standards. This process is commonly used when there’s been a Norovirus outbreak to quickly sanitise areas, including soft furnishings couches and curtains, which can be troublesome with manual cleaning. Employee cleanliness Thorough hand washing with soap and water for 30 seconds, followed by proper drying, should be practiced after every visit to the washroom. Alcohol-free hand sanitisers should be readily available, as these do not dry out the natural oils in the skin, helping to prevent dermatitis. Choose a sanitiser that includes residual barrier technology as they provide an effective, long-lasting solution against illness and cross contamination. Some illnesses, like Norovirus, have a very low infectious dose, meaning you only need to have a few viral particles to become infected. As it is a hardy virus, it remains viable and infectious for several days, living on hard surfaces such as door handles. For this reason, cross contamination is particularly prevalent in offices where there are lots of shared touch points. It is thus important for staff with Norovirus symptoms to notify their employer and stay away from work until at least 48 hours after symptoms have ceased, to prevent its spread. Final words Offices must remain vigilant during cold months and ensure hygiene standards are upheld so that infectious outbreaks do not hinder business activity. Luke Rutterford is technical manager at Rentokil Specialist HygieneImage:Shutterstock
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