H1N1 - Flu Information for Businesses
Preventing H1N1 In Office Buildings PDF Print E-mail
Cleaning to prevent cross-contamination and the spread of infectious disease has always been a high priority for cleaning personnel in office environments. But in light of the current H1N1 influenza outbreak across the United States, jan/san distributors must make sure that their commercial clients are up to par on infection control products and procedures.

By the end of October, flu activity was increasing at a rate much higher than past flu seasons and health officials report that as many as 40 percent of Americans could contract H1N1 in the next 20 months with mortality in the hundreds of thousands if vaccines are not successful. Hospitals and schools are taking extra precautions, and commercial facilities are also stepping up their flu and infection control practices.


Studies have shown that influenza viruses survive on surfaces for up to eight hours, giving them ample time to spread around an office. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends cleaning using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectant cleaners with efficacy against Type A Influenza viruses such as H1N1.

These disinfectants should always be used on hard, non-porous surfaces that receive frequent hand contact, says Jonathan Cohen, vice president and director of sales for I. Janvey & Sons Inc., Hempstead, N.Y. In office spaces, these surfaces include fax and copy machines, desks, phones, computer keyboards and mice, light switches, door knobs, push plates, handles, railings and elevator buttons. In areas such as the break room common touch points to be disinfected are water fountains and water coolers, coffee pots, refrigerator handles, microwave handles and keypads and sink fixtures — to name just a few.

Encouraging Hand Washing

Infectious germs are primarily transmitted by the hands, so in addition to disinfecting, the CDC recommends hand washing. Proper hand washing entails first wetting and then scrubbing hands, wrists, cuticles and under fingernails for 15 to 20 seconds with soap and then rinsing and drying hands completely.

The CDC also recommends that if a person can't get to a restroom to wash hands, that alcohol-based hand sanitizer be used. These can be wall mounted or mounted on a stand and placed in common areas such as reception areas and elevator banks. As with proper hand washing, it's recommended to cover all surfaces of the wrists, hands, fingers and nails with product, but instead of rinsing, allowing it to air dry. Many offices are also providing employees with personal-use hand sanitizer to use throughout the day as needed and to bring with them on business trips.

OSHA Issues New H1N1 Fact Sheets PDF Print E-mail
OSHA recently issued new sets of information regarding H1N1. The “factsheets” were issued for both employees and employers, and mostly include common-sense information, with the notable exception of new “social-distancing” tactics that can be used if the severity of the disease increases in your workplace. These methods include restructuring the workplace and its interactions so that there is less close-contact between workers. Besides that, the factsheets are basically recaps of previously shared information:

-Develop a Policy for Workers and Clients Who become Ill in the Workplace

-Promote Hand Hygiene and Cough Etiquette

-Encourage Workers to Get Vaccinated

-Educate Workers About Conditions That Place Them at Higher Risk for Complications of Flu

-Address Travel and Sickness While on Travel

-Prepare for Possible School Closures or Suspension of Child Care Programs

Preparing For Flu Seasonl: CDC Prevention Advice PDF Print E-mail
As we know, the occurrence of Swine Flu has drastically decreased through the warmer months of summer. However, most reports indicate that there is still a moderate risk of a return outbreak. Andrew Pekosz, professor of immunology and microbiology at John Hopkins, pointed out in May of 2009 that H1N1 is a new virus, meaning no one has immunity. Also worrisome to public health officials is that many flu pandemics of the past have followed this pattern: an initial, mild wave of cases, followed by a lull, and then by more severe waves of infection months later.

All of the above is pertinent, of course, because the public’s attention is still very much on this issue. On August 10th, the CDC issued a report called “General Business and Workplace Guidance for the Prevention of Novel  Influenza A (H1N1) Flu in Workers.” The report serves a preparatory purpose, outlining symptoms of the disease and encouraging employers to take cautionary measures (http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/workplace.htm). Almost all of these measures implicate the cleaning industry indirectly, and some, such as the following taken from the report, directly: