Managing the flu season in commercial buildings requires a combination of technology like commercial grade air purifiers, proper communication to occupants of the facility and increased sanitation efforts. Cases of the flu peak between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that between 5 percent and 20 percent of Americans catch the flu each year, with more than 200,000 people on average ending up hospitalized for flu-related conditions.
The workplace can be a breeding ground for germs as sick workers show up at the office, touch surfaces, sneeze in elevators and inevitably shake hands with others. Here are a few tips facility managers can use for minimize flu season impact.
Install commercial air purifier technology to reduce airborne germs
Installing commercial HEPA air purifiers in high traffic areas or closed spaces where meetings are held and where workers congregate can help reduce the spread of airborne flu germs. The Center for Disease Control indicates that bacteria and viruses can travel through the air. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. And as sneezing and coughing occur in the peak flu season, droplet nuclei (small infectious droplets produced when sneeze or cough) may remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and may be blown over great distances.
Also schedule ventilation system checks before flu season is in full swing. Check HVAC systems and bathroom ventilation systems as well to ensure they are free of debris and properly cleaned.
Communicate flu season basics to building occupants
A workplace PR campaign reminds occupants about the spread of flu germs and how to prevent them with simple measures. Post signs in restrooms and breakrooms outlining the CDC-recommended hand-washing procedure. Supplement high traffic entrances with antibacterial dispensers and post signage encouraging their use during flu season. Also, distribute facility-wide emails reminding workers to wipe down their phones and desks and other personal items to prevent the spread of germs.
The CDC reminds building managers and staff that all cleaners are not the same. Some products remove germs but don’t necessarily kill germs. Also some disinfectants kill top-layer germs, but don’t necessarily clean the area. A combination of both – clean first then disinfect – is the best method for reducing the risk of the infection spreading. The CDC recommends chlorine bleach, quaternary ammonium-based cleaners and hydrogen peroxide as flu deterrents. After all, the flu virus can live and remain infectious on surfaces for 2 to 8 hours.