Providing advice and expertise on a whole host of cleaning related issues.
A recent Office Depot survey revealed the alarmingly low levels of concern demonstrated by both employers and employees surrounding washroom hygiene in UK offices. The company's head of cleaning, hygiene and catering, George Hand, identifies the most concerning findings from the research and explains how businesses can bring their washrooms up to scratch
Working in an office, it’s almost inevitable that you will have encountered someone with an illness, such as the common cold. Offices have a responsibility to ensure they are well-stocked with appropriate cleaning and hygiene products, which can in turn help prevent the spread of illness from colleague to colleague.
Curb the outbreak in bacteria
From our research however, it’s clear education is required around cleaning and hygiene products in the workplace. A shocking 30% of businesses failed to offer antibacterial hand wash or soap. This is clearly unacceptable and should be concerning to businesses, especially as it leaves employees vulnerable to the likes of Salmonella, E. coli O157 and norovirus. Providing antibacterial hand wash or soap is essential, but it’s also important to ensure appropriate levels of stock is available at all times for when washrooms are running low.
Address the lack of acceptable drying systems
Additionally, 22% of UK offices did not have an appropriate hand drying system in place. The Health and Safety Executive notes that employers must provide ‘toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer’, meaning many businesses could be breaking health and safety regulations. It is also worth noting that the survey does not specify whether the systems are hygienic, as some hand-dryers are much better than others. Companies are encouraged to check their existing systems, with regular performance testing, to ensure they meet UK standards.
Promote hygienic practices
The survey also showed that 45% of respondents claim to have seen a colleague fail to wash their hands after using the toilet. The chances of illness spreading is high as a result of this. The unhygienic practice is made worse by the 79% of people who have seen co-workers eat lunch at their desks. Simple steps can be made to promote best practice, such as erecting posters displaying workplace standards in washrooms, which can help offer reminders that employees are in a shared environment.
Protect the roll
Almost 30% of UK office-based businesses fail to provide a toilet roll dispensing system. Clearly this should be a worry, given the number of bacteria found on cubicle floors. The results from the survey should act as a catalyst for office-based businesses to ensure standards are high and maintained.
Provide a box of tissues
Only 8% of UK offices supply facial tissues to their employees. Evidently an item that is overlooked by businesses, facial tissues offer hygienic qualities that prevent the spread of germs. Offices should be encouraged to consider providing them to their employees as facial tissues can play a role in preventing the spread of illnesses. And if colleagues are coming into work with a cold, for example, then having this simple amenity can help.
What action should office-based businesses take?
Businesses should be looking to audit their current systems annually as best practice. Whether it’s the janitorial products, washroom systems or cleaning equipment, audits are vital as they help ensure everything is running to company standards. Even if good hygiene practices are in place, companies should seek an audit, as it is easy to let standards slip or systems to become outdated.
(Credit - Cleaning Matters 01 March 2019)
While Christmas is traditionally a time of joy, the combination of cold temperatures with a steady flurry of social events, can create the perfect environment for winter illnesses. Figures for 2017 show the average number of sick days taken has almost halved since 1993 in the UK, meaning many employees are choosing to ignore their sniffles in order to get to the office. This can create an environment for germs to spread, unless key hygiene steps are followed.
What’s brewing this Christmas?
As temperatures plummet, employees will likely be making more trips to the kettle, but it’s these tea runs where germs could easily spread. Initial Washroom Hygiene’s survey of 1,000 office workers found that only 33% of people wash mugs before making a cup of tea for colleagues and 80% admitted they don’t wash their hands prior to preparing a brew. When we swabbed the boxes where office tea bags are kept we found extraordinarily high levels of bacteria – an average 17 times higher than the average toilet seat.
Encouraging more hygienic employee behaviour such as washing hands, cleaning mugs between tea rounds and wiping down tea-making equipment, can help overcome any potential contamination. Facilities managers should equip offices with soap and sanitisers as well as displaying helpful hand washing reminders around the office.
Guilt (and germ)-free indulgence
Research has shown that most people eat their lunch at their desk at least three times a week, and at this time of year, festive nibbles are almost certain to end up on employees’ desks. Handwashing before eating or snacking is vital, as 80% of all illnesses are transmitted by touch. Despite this, Initial research revealed that 74% of people don’t wash their hands before snacking.
Deploying hand sanitisers throughout the office could help employees form a barrier against microbes and will also promote a more proactive approach to hand hygiene.
Tricks of the trade
It’s the role of the office manager to ensure that regular office cleaning takes place and that a deep clean is undertaken (we would recommend twice yearly). Ensuring good quality infection control procedures are in place is worth investing time and money in, as it can help to prevent or reduce any illness amongst staff.
One secret weapon to quickly and effectively clean the office – is Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fogging. This technique is especially useful in the event of an outbreak as it enables the treatment of large areas in a short space of time by generating a mist formed of tiny droplets of disinfectant, measuring 5-50 microns in diameter. Carried out by trained specialists, ULV fogging significantly reduces the number of potentially harmful pathogens and ensures those hard-to-reach areas that manual cleaning might miss are treated. The fogging technique can also include a disinfectant with ‘Reactive Barrier Technology’ to keep areas sanitised for extended periods of time. Considering deep cleaning techniques like ULV fogging alongside routine cleaning procedures could be essential in keeping your office full of cheer and not germs this Christmas.
(Credit- CleanIng-Matters December 2018)
All wet wipes sold as "flushable" in the UK have so far failed the water industry's disintegration tests, the BBC has found
This means they do not break down sufficiently to allow them to be harmlessly flushed down the toilet. But because they disappear when they have flushed away, people assume they are safe in doing so.
In reality, water companies say they end up getting caught up in filters or contribute to giant, fatty buildups known as fatbergs which block sewage pipes.
Removing these blockages costs £100 million a year, according to Water UK, the main water and sewer companies' trade body.
Wet wipes are sold for everything from make-up removal to surface cleaning. Most importantly when it comes to flushability, they're available as moist toilet tissue.
BBC Radio 4's Costing The Earth looked into the issue and its investigation claims all wet wipes sold as "flushable" in the UK have so far failed the tests, which are conducted by scientists at WRC, a water-testing laboratory in Swindon.
Manufacturers insist their test is adequate and say sewer blockages are caused by people putting non-flushable wipes down the toilet.
Tony Griffiths, from United Utilities, told the BBC the situation was "extremely frustrating" and that the money being spent on fixing problems could be going towards reducing customer bills.
There are some wipes that pass both tests, but none are currently being sold in the UK, according to WRC.
Matt Wheeldon, a director at Wessex Water, is calling for a ban on wipes being labelled as "flushable", telling the BBC they were a "complete scourge on our society".
The government has said it is working with manufacturers and water companies to develop a product that can be safely flushed.
(Credit- CleanIng-Matters November 2018)
Keep Britain Tidy has launched a campaign with local authorities up and down the country designed to encourage everyone to 'Get Behind Keep Britain Tidy' and do their bit to clean up the place in which they live. The launch comes as the charity reveals the bill to clean up England's streets now exceeds £850 million/year.
Keep Britain Tidy has launched a campaign with local authorities up and down the country designed to encourage everyone to 'Get Behind Keep Britain Tidy' and do their bit to clean up the place in which they live. The launch comes as the charity reveals the bill to clean up England's streets now exceeds £850 million/year.
New figures show that the amount of money spent by local authorities in England on clearing up cigarette ends, food wrappers and other rubbish every year has risen by almost £100 million, from £780 million to £858 million.
However, the posters launched as part of the campaign (see below) have sparked controversy with some critics labelling them childish and inappropriate. Asked whether they found the posters offensive in a recent online poll, 39% of CM readers said they thought they were just a bit of fun, while 35% did find them offensive and 26% weren't sure.
(Credit- Cleaning-Matters 2013)
Hygiene is vital in our homes and workplaces, but the ways in which people clean could damage their lung health and breathing – as reported in Cleaning Matters earlier this year. What lies behind this and how can professional cleaners and employers protect against it? Michael Edwards, a trained biomedical scientist and health and safety writer at IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, explains some of the latest research and how we can guard against respiratory ris
Can too much cleaning be bad for your health?
Cleaning chemicals used at home and in workplaces every day are often taken for granted. A recent study conducted by the University of Bergen in Norway showed a clear correlation between the use of liquid- and spray-cleaning chemicals and degradation of lung function of women (especially) involved in cleaning at work and in the home.
The 20-year study found that women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated the decline in maximum Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) and maximum Forced Expired Volume in one second (FEV1), measured by spirometry. The decline in both measurements indicates decreased lung function in the people affected.
What causes this?
Most cleaning agents have an irritative effect on the mucous membranes of the airways. Irritation of the airways (the respiratory system) leads to inflammation, reducing the volume of the affected area, that in turn can have a direct effect on how well you can breathe.
This may only be a short-term effect; however, the study indicates that repetitive exposure for low-grade irritating cleaning agents could cause longer-term or permanent changes to the airways.
Most cleaning chemicals used today are either bleach or ammonia based. Concentrations of bleach or ammonia vary, usually depending on use in a domestic, commercial or industrial environment, ranging from approximately 5% in domestic applications, to around 15% for more commercial or industrial applications.
Certain ammonia-based cleaning substances (quaternary ammonium compounds) are also known to have a sensitising effect on the airways.
Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in liquid form does not have an irritating effect on the respiratory system, but if exposed to reactive substances such as acids and ammonia it can liberate chlorine gas and chloramine. Both can cause irritation to the respiratory system, with chlorine gas being toxic and chloramine being corrosive in higher concentrations.
Bleach can also create chloroform when mixed with certain alcohols (for example ethanol). Chloroform is also toxic when breathed in. Other substances, such as low concentrations of sodium hydroxide, are also found in cleaning chemicals that can have an irritating effect on the airways.
(Credit- CleanIng-Matters July 2018)
A new study released by Initial Washroom Hygiene has examined the state of air care in public and office washrooms, and the wide-ranging implications this can have on businesses.
The global report (based on 5,000 respondents – 1,000 across the UK, Australia, France, Italy, Malaysia), titled ‘Washroom malodour: Experiences, perceptions and implications for businesses’ found that 73% of Brits say an unpleasant smell in the washroom would negatively affect their perception of a venue, with almost two thirds of respondents saying that a bad smell would make them less likely to spend money with that company.
As well as emotional responses to unpleasant smells, bad washroom experiences can negatively impact reputation and repeat custom, according to the study. More than six in 10 would be put off a business if it had unpleasant-smelling bathrooms and almost a quarter have been embarrassed about a client or visitor using their bathrooms due to the smell. Comparing retail environments to office space, 25% of those surveyed reported that cafes, bars and restaurants have cleaner washrooms than their place of work.
Whilst almost everyone has experienced malodour in the washroom, in the UK, three quarters felt disgusted when noticing an unpleasant smell, with almost a quarter saying it left them ‘fearful of getting sick’. Malodour is strongly associated with uncleanliness (79%), poor hygiene (75%) and bacteria (60%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, this leads to emotive responses, including opting to leave or not return to an establishment (51%), complaining to the owner or manager (25%) or posting a bad review online (6%).
Dr Peter Barratt from Initial Washroom Hygiene said: “Our report highlights the significant impact that unpleasant smelling washrooms can have on perceptions of a particular brand - it makes business sense to pay attention to what consumers are saying. While some businesses are still unaware of advances in air care methods, the necessity for effective washroom odour control is easy for businesses to understand.”
62% of those surveyed believe that air fresheners demonstrate care and concern towards the state of the washrooms in general. More than four in 10 also said the presence of air fresheners reassures them that the washroom is clean.
Dr Peter Barratt concluded: “Good air care solutions can remove malodour, effectively ‘cleaning’ the air by neutralising the bacteria and fungi that cause bad smells, as well as destroying or masking existing malodours. Good air care also filters, cleans and intelligently fragrances the air – targeting and neutralising airborne microorganisms and odour molecules – so that fragrance particles are not simply concentrated in one area, but leave behind a pleasant, gentle fragrance throughout the washroom."
(Credit - Cleaning-matters March 2018)
New app aims to make cleaning fun 28/02/18
A new mobile phone app is aiming to get people to clean up their streets.
Litterati is an app for Android and iOS devices, looking to persuade more people to keep their own streets clean.
The app was developed by 46-year-old Jeff Kirschner, when his daughter spotted discarded cat litter in a creek. Kirschner was reminded of the huge difference he and friends made at a summer camp when each of them picked up just five pieces of litter.
Using Litterati, users take photos of the litter they pick up and keep a record of how much they are doing. It has reportedly inspired the collection of over 1 million pieces of litter and is now receiving lots of support from crowd-funding and even the US government. Kirschner has also received a $225,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
The money raised will be used to develop maps to show litter hotspots and data analysis so people can categorise the litter they collect.
(Credit- Cleaning-matters February 2018)
Wipes only work for 30 minutes 15/02/18
Cleaning with anti-bacterial wipes is a waste of time according to a scientist who has studied their effectiveness.
Dr Clare Lanyon, of Northumbria University in Newcastle, claims that common germs can replicate themselves in only 20 minutes after a surface has been wiped and that if even one cell is left alive (a virtual certainty) that cell will quickly re-colonise the entire surface.
The biomedical scientist appeared on BBC programme Trust me I'm a Doctor to demonstrate that old fashioned remedies such as bars of soap are actually far more effective at breaking down cell walls and thus combating germs.
Speaking to the Telegraph in the wake of her appearance Dr Lanyon said: "Personally, I don't waste my time purchasing anti-bacterial products for the home. Anti-bacterial wipes will not kill microbes or stop the re-establishing."
(Credit – Cleaning-matters February 2018)
97 per cent of Brits won't return to restaurants with dirty toilets 09/01/2018
Almost everyone is put off from returning to a restaurant if the toilets aren't up to scratch.
That is the finding of a YouGov online survey of over 2,000 British adults, conducted by Cannon Hygiene. The survey made crystal clear just how vital it is to maintain the highest possible standards when it comes to the cleanliness and upkeep of restrooms.
A whopping 97 per cent of us wouldn't return to a restaurant if the restrooms weren't up to the required standard. The largest individual issues amongst respondents were general cleanliness (90 per cent), lack of toilet paper (89 per cent) lack of soap (70 per cent), bad smells (63 per cent) and weak hand driers (54 per cent). When presented with one of these issues, 85 per cent of us will warn family and friends, and 76 per cent of us heed these warnings.
Brits also go to great lengths to avoid touching things in a public restroom. Almost a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) admitted they lay toilet paper down on seats, with almost a third (29 per cent) actually squatting above the toilet seat. A fifth of people (21 per cent) would only use their elbows to open doors.
Woe betide any establishment that fails to meet the public's expectations with 60 per cent of respondents likely to bring up concerns with staff directly. A further quarter (24 per cent) would make their disappointment clear via social media.
Howard Sedgwick, MD of Cannon Hygiene, said: “Many of us are conscious of the upkeep of restrooms in public places, particularly those where food is being prepared as it suggests a lot about the hygiene elsewhere in the building.
“Britons are clearly sticklers for good hygiene and the data suggests that a huge majority of us aren’t willing to put up with poor standards with many going above and beyond to warn friends, family and followers on social media when they’ve had a bad experience.
“It’s a warning to restaurants, bars, hotels and others in the retail and leisure sector that their repeat business can goes out of the window very quickly if customers are forced to use facilities that aren’t up to scratch.”
(Credit - Cleaning-matters January 2018)
New proof that flushing wipes is a major cause of sewer blockages 28/12/17
The biggest ever in-depth investigation of sewer blockages in the UK has revealed that wipes being flushed down toilets are causing serious problems in the sewerage system.
The information is detailed in a new report by Water UK, the trade body representing all of the main water and sewerage companies in the United Kingdom. It showed that wipes made up around 93% of the material causing the sewer blockages which the study investigated. These wipes – which included a high proportion of baby wipes - are not designed to be flushed.
Less than 1% of the domestic waste in the blockages was identified as made up of products which are designed to be flushed, such as toilet paper.
There are approximately 300,000 sewer blockages every year, costing the country £100 million – money which could be taken off bills or spent on improving services. Thousands of properties suffer sewer flooding caused by these blockages every year in the UK, creating misery for homeowners and businesses and leading to high clean-up bills and increased insurance costs. Sewer flooding also has a major impact on the environment. The new research shows that most of these type of incidents could be avoided by the wipes being disposed of properly rather than being flushed down toilets.
Retailers in the UK who have taken the lead with more visible Do Not Flush labelling are being praised for their efforts, but more needs to be done to help encourage individuals to stop using the toilet as a bin.
Water UK’s director of corporate affairs, Rae Stewart, said: “This study proves that flushing wipes down the toilet is a major cause of sewer blockages, and that means it’s a problem we can all do something about. Water companies spend billions of pounds every year making our water and sewerage services world class, but our sewerage system is just not designed to handle things like baby wipes which don’t break down in water. The good news is that by taking action we can stop the horror people face when their homes are flooded with raw sewage.
“There are things that water companies can do, such as improve education about what should and shouldn’t be flushed. There are things manufacturers can do, such as make labelling clearer on non-flushable products. And, of course, there are things individuals can do – which is bin the wipes rather than flush them.”
The investigation of 54 sewer blockages across the UK forms the main part of the report, titled the Wipes in Sewer Blockage Study. It was jointly funded and supported by Water UK, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and EDANA. EDANA is the trade association for the nonwovens industry, which includes the wipes sector.
The report concluded that a renewed united and concerted approach is required to raise awareness among consumers of what can and cannot be flushed.
Since January 2017, EDANA has been promoting the use of a ‘Do Not Flush’ symbol on the front of packaging to help stop non-flushable baby wipes, cosmetic wipes and household wipes being flushed down Britain’s toilets. EDANA members and retailers are being encouraged to adopt the front-of-pack ‘Do Not Flush’ logo on non-flushable wipes by October 2018.
(Credit – Cleaning-matters December 2017)
Office tea mugs less hygienic than average toilet seat, study finds 12/12/18
A new study released by Initial Washroom Hygiene has revealed that office workers could be exposing themselves to more harmful germs than they think during their daily tea run.
A swabbing study conducted in several office locations across Britain, found particularly high levels of microbial activity on the tins or boxes where tea bags are kept – recording an average reading 17 times higher than that of an average toilet seat. Other culprits of significant microbiological activity were fridge door handles, the kettle and the sugar pot.
Whilst regular cleaning of shared kitchen facilities in office environments will go a long way to help with bacterial and viral contamination, employee behaviour can also play a part. A survey of 1,000 office workers conducted by Initial Washroom Hygiene found that only a third of people wash a mug before making a cup of tea for a colleague, and 80% of those surveyed admitted that they do not wash their hands before making someone else’s tea. Being aware of a mug’s owner is also important – more than one in 10 have accidently mixed up mugs on a tea run, with 5% admitting to deliberately mixing them up. With the average microbial ATP reading of a used mug coming in at 1,746 (more than three times what is considered to be within a ‘normal’ range), using someone else’s mug could significantly increase the chances of cross contamination and the spread of colds and other viruses in the workplace.
These microbiological readings are typical indicators of poor hygiene, which can increase the risk of cross contamination and the spread of colds and viruses, such as Norovirus, levels of which tend to increase when winter sets in as we spend more time indoors. They were taken using an ATP bioluminescence reader to measure the microbiological concentration on the various surfaces that were swabbed during the study.
Dr Peter Barratt, Initial Washroom Hygiene, said: “The tea run can often become a bit of a minefield, but few would have thought of it as a potential health hazard. But, if you stop to think about the number of different hands that touch things such as the kettle handle, tea bag box lid, mugs, and so on, the potential for cross contamination really adds up. With 80% of all infections transmitted by hand, simply washing one’s hands thoroughly can help to overcome the potential cross contamination risks associated with the office tea run. And yet many office kitchens seem poorly equipped to offer the users access to good hand and surface hygiene.”
How you carry your colleague’s mug could also play a big role in preventing cross contamination. The swabbing study found that the rim of a used mug can harbour more than three times the normal amount of microbiological activity. Whilst this tends to be fine if the mugs aren’t swapped (the majority will be the person’s own healthy bacteria), if someone else touches the rim of the mug, the cross contamination risk increase In fact, 72% of those surveyed admit they touch the rim of someone else’s mug.
(Credit – Cleaning-matters December 2017)
One in three UK workers use their phone on the loo 03/11/17
New research has found that a third of UK workers admit to being on their smartphone while using the toilet, and almost one in 12 even consume food and drink there, leading to major concerns about the spread of germs in the workplace.
The study questioned 1,000 office workers in the UK, to mark global Handwashing day (15th October) and to understand the state of handwashing habits in office environments.
A third (32%) of UK workers questioned said that they use their smartphones while in the office washroom, with Facebook (60%), WhatsApp (36%), playing games and emailing (both 18%) the most popular activities, Also 13% even admitted to making phone calls from the cubicle. Most worryingly of all, around one in 12 (8%) said they had eaten food in the office washroom.
Perhaps understandably, British workers are concerned about their colleagues' washroom habits. Almost half (49%) would be 'disgusted', and a quarter would be 'concerned', if they knew a colleague didn't wash their hands after visiting the washroom. Almost four in 10 (38%) will avoid shaking hands with people they know have just left the washroom, while a quarter would be uncomfortable with a client or important business stakeholder using the same office toilets as the general workforce.
(Credit CM Nov 2016)
How clean is your daily commute? 07/10/17
ZipJet, a dry cleaning specialist, conducted research to better understand the bacteria commuters are exposed to on their daily transport routes through London. With a keen interest in cleanliness and hygiene, ZipJet carried out the research in common modes of public transport known to harbour potentially harmful micro-organisms. Although most bacteria are harmless to healthy individuals, some can have a negative effect on those with vulnerable immune systems. The study shows that commuters sometimes share seats with bacteria originating from soil, stagnant water, saliva, and even faeces.
Samples were taken from locations where passengers’ clothes and hands frequently come into contact with shared spaces during their daily travels - for example, from a bench in London Victoria station, five seats and handrails on the London underground, five chairs of red double-decker buses, the backseat of five black cabs, and the backseat of five Uber cars. The same process was repeated for commuter locations in Paris and Berlin. The swabs were sent to Limbach Analytics, a laboratory in Mannheim, where the samples were processed by introducing microbiological methods designed to identify different micro-organisms.
“You can easily stay clean and healthy when using public transport,” said Constanze Wendt, a specialist in hygiene and microbiology at Limbach Analytics GmbH. “After travelling, you can avoid contamination simply by washing your hands and washing clothes thoroughly to avoid a build up of bacteria.”
To find out the full list of bacteria and pathogens and locations swabbed, visit the results page: www.zipjet.co.uk/dirty-cities-index.
How clean is the London commute?
According to the ZipJet report, here is a summary of the findings:
The winter months traditionally see an increase in viral illnesses – from the common cold and influenza, to norovirus, more commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, these highly contagious viruses are unpleasant to say the least and in worse case scenarios can be quite debilitating,
Hand Hygiene is one of the most preventative ways to reduce the spread of germs, therefore it is paramount that hand hygiene best practice is encouraged, not only during cold flu season but all year round. More than 80% of illnesses can be transmitted by the hands (1), however, research shows that 25% of people don't their hands after using the washroom, (2), while a further 46% don't wash long enough to be effective (3), These startling facts highlight how important hand hygiene and the need for education and awareness on why and when to wash or sanitise your hands.
Handwashing is the first line of defence against the spread of infection. The process of washing hands should take at least 20 seconds, making sure that the hands are washed correctly - wet hands with water, apply enough soap to cover all surfaces, rub palm to palm, and carefully scrub fingers, back and front hands and each thumb. Rinse with water and gently dry with clean paper towel.
Hand sanitising is ideal when water and soap are not available, or as an additional layer of protection. Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, whether foam, gel or wipes, significantly reduces the spread of germs. The process of sanitising hands should take at least 15 seconds to be effective - apply a palm full of hand sanitiser, covering all surfaces, rub the sanitiser into palms, fingers, back and front of hands and thumbs, continuing to rub hands together until they are dry.
Washing or sanitising hands is more crucial after using the washroom, before preparing food, before eating, and after sneezing or coughing. Hands should be washed or sanitised after touching anything that may carry germs such as shopping trolleys or handrails.
(Credit Hand hygiene C&M)
Tablets and smartphones are becoming an increasingly common sight in the healthcare sector. Staff use them for making patient notes and checking details of medication along with recommended doses and side-effects, for example. Medical histories are often inputted into a tablet so that details of a patient’s prescriptions, x-rays and scans can be safely stored in a “cloud”. And there are even apps that simulate surgical procedures as an aid to physicians. But what are the cross-contamination risks associated with this growing use of touchscreens?
Bacteria and viruses can remain active for long periods on surfaces, and this of course includes screens. According to the NHS, flu germs can last for up to 24 hours on any hard surface while the cold virus can sometimes survive for seven days. So does the increased use of tablets in healthcare add to the cross-contamination threat?
It appears that it does. A Turkish study carried out in 2011 revealed that 39.6 percent of healthcare workers’ smartphones were contaminated with pathogens. And a more recent US study revealed that 25 percent of tablets were similarly contaminated.
However, touchscreens appear to be no more dangerous than their low-tech predecessor – the patient file. In a 2005 US study, microbiological samples were collected from patients' bedside files in intensive care and surgical wards.
The study showed that 85 per cent of patient files in intensive care wards and a quarter of surgical ward files were contaminated with potentially pathogenic bacteria. So it seems that any item that is handled frequently and shared between staff members poses a potential contamination risk. And for this reason, the blame for cross-contamination in hospitals cannot be laid at technology’s door.
Hi-tech hygiene tools
Indeed, technology in various forms is now being used to actually help improve hygiene in healthcare. For example, “hologram” nurses are being employed in hospital foyers in London, Bedford, Doncaster and Rotherham to remind staff and visitors about the importance of hand hygiene. Electronic badges that light up when a medic has washed their hands and vibrate when they have not are another new high-tech phenomenon.
And as for tablets, technology is moving at such a pace that these may soon become safer than traditional patient records. In 2011 a Singapore-based company named Karuma brought out what it claimed to be the world’s first antibacterial tablet. Its touchscreen combines silver ion technology and medical grade plastic that is said to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria by up to 99.9 per cent.
Google, meanwhile, has developed a tablet enclosed in polycarbonate which can be decontaminated by soaking it in chlorine. This was designed at the request of Médecins Sans Frontières to help improve safety for medical staff treating Ebola patients in Africa.
(Credit CM Jan 2017)
The U.S Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule that over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products contacting certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed. Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.
The ruling is significant for the cleaning industry as it reiterates the importance of effective handwashing as hand sanitiser is no longer considered an appropriate alternative.
So how will this ruling impact on you and your cleaning operation? Sadly, there are still many people who do not appreciate the importance of handwashing or know the correct techniques on how to do this. In light of this, my advice would be:
Depending on the tasks you need to undertake hand protection may also be required in addition to effective handwashing. The most important factor is for you to be aware of the correct gloves to wear, and how long they should be worn for.
Disposable gloves are the best practice, and many suppliers are now introducing coloured disposable gloves to prevent cross-contamination. If non- disposable gloves are in use, however, then they must not be shared with others. The gloves should be washed under running water with a mild detergent or soap to remove residual cleaning agents and contamination after use.
By following these simple steps for effective handwashing and hand protection you can help reduce the spread of infection and improve the safety of your cleaning operation.
(Credit CM Nov 2016)
The mere financial cost of cleaning up chewing gum – an estimated £10m a year in London alone – pales into insignificance when compared with the social costs of this dreadful, indigestible substance. While some 300,000 pieces are removed from Oxford Street every time it is cleaned, and the price of removal is more than three times the price of the gum itself, the real problem with gum is that it is disgusting. Fortunately many people seem to be realising this, with sales falling by a reported 8% this year, and a decline in UK consumption since 2008 of 3,000 tonnes of gum. Finally, after an estimated 5,000 years of humans putting gum in their mouths, are we finally growing tired of this food we cannot eat?
(Credit The guardian Jan 2014)
We have a variety of systems for all solutions including TARMAC.
To view our demo video please copy and paste the link below into your search bar-
Graffiti in public places can make passengers feel unsafe and, if not dealt with quickly, can lead to further undesirable activity taking place. It can also create a climate of fear for those using and working on the railways.
Graffiti also poses safety issues. Vandals often put their lives at risk in the act of spraying difficult surfaces, such as bridges or trains in sidings.
And the costs of cleaning up are enormous:
- Network Rail estimate that it costs at least £5 million per year to clean up graffiti, not including the loss of revenue or delays caused to the service.
- London Underground meanwhile says graffiti costs them a minimum of £10 million per year, and it would cost about £38 million to replace all of the graffiti-etched windows on every Tube train.
- Dealing with graffiti also diverts valuable police and staff resources. Hundreds of thousands of staff hours are taken up in cleaning, repairs and police time.
- London Underground devotes some 70,000 hours a year just to cleaning up graffiti.
The risks of germ transmission through hand contact have always been of great concern to those working in infection prevention and control. The facts speak for themselves - it is said that the average person touches their mouth with their hand every few seconds. A recent well documented study carried out by experts from Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) in conjunction with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) produced some startling facts. Faecal bacteria were found to be present on 26% of hands in the UK, 14% of banknotes and 10% of credit cards.
It is the findings about hand contamination that are most shocking. The report found 11% of our hands were ‘grossly contaminated’, containing similar levels to a toilet bowl. Similar levels were found on banknotes and payments cards with ‘gross contamination’ on 8% and 6% respectively.
In businesses and hospitals the risks associated with contaminated hands are obvious and of real concern. Bacteria can survive on surfaces up to three hours so hand-to-hand transmission on such surfaces is a serious issue.
(Credit C&M April 2015)
Cleancare can provide a variety of low cost solutions from hand gels, dispensers, sanitising wipes, signs and more to help keep your staff clean and healthy.
These three words are often confused and rarely understood properly. For the purpose of this article I decided to look at each one in turn and examine the definitions in an attempt to clarify the differences and, hopefully, avoid further confusion.
The first and most important thing to understand about all three of these definitions is that, although many people refer to them as killing bacteria and microbes, this most basic part of the definition is in fact incorrect. All of these processes are methods of killing or otherwise reducing the levels of bacteria and microbes to the point that they cannot reproduce. It is therefore important to understand that all the bacteria is not necessarily killed but it is rendered inactive.
To start, sanitising is perhaps the most basic of the three and the idea has certainly existed for centuries. For something to be sanitised, 99.9% of the original microbes must be killed or rendered inert within a process that has a given timeframe of 30 seconds. The fact that this reduces the microbes by three decimals leads to the term ‘3 log reduction’. There are records of attempted sanitation going back to Roman times where the principle sanitising agent was in fact human urine. This was use in the leaning of clothes and teeth (although this practise was not universal, and was often the subject of mockery). The idea of sanitising, therefore, has a long history.
Disinfection is a separate process and is measured on a 5-5-5 scale. This refers to the fact that disinfection targets five specific organisms and lasts for five minutes and should lead to a five decimal reduction, hence the term ‘5 log reduction’ or 99.999% if you prefer. Clearly this process eliminates more of the microbes. Although the additional time means that it is used less frequently than sanitisation.
Sterilisation is by far the most targeted cleaning process. After correct sterilisation all microorganisms will be rendered irreversibly insert.
The question as to which process to use in which case is one of the main reasons why training is so necessary.
When considering the effectiveness of each of these cleaning methods it is important to bear in mind that proper cleaning will result in a log 2 reduction (99%) in the levels of microbes and bacteria on a surface and, therefore these additional methods should be just that - in addition to proper and effective regular cleaning.
(Credit C&M March 15)
Rats - A rising problem
No one knows how many rates there are, but a recent estimate by a government scientist put the number at 10.5million in the UK and Ireland. That number of rats would eat about 210 tonnes of food every day and contaminate with faces, urine and hair very much more than that.
Rat numbers may be increasing because of recent less severe winters, more of us providing food for wild birds, and inadvertently for rats in our garden and parks.
Problems caused by rats can be divided into three main areas:
- Human and animal health
- Contamination and waste
- Damage to property
Rats play an important role in the spread of many diseases. These are transmitted both to humans and livestock via rodent urine and faeces and by parasites caused by rodents. Research conducted at the University of Oxford has shown than 63% of rats caught on farms carry cryptosporidiosis, 35% carry toxoplasma and 14% carry leptospira.
The disease cryptosporidiosis is a form of food poisoning. It affects humans and domestic animals particularly cattle. Rats on farms carry disease and contaminate cattle feed with their faeces. This leads to infected cattle during entering watercourses from which drinking water may be extracted.
Human symptoms are abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. There is no specific cure and in otherwise healthy people these symptoms last up to four weeks. In 2011, here were almost 3,000 reported human cases in the UK, although this figure is probably greatly underestimates the real number of cases.
(Credit Cleaning matters September 2015)
“We tailor make the prevention solution for each building we look after, speak to us for more information on how we can help you”.
Leading on from our last newsletter we thought we’d elaborate on matting solutions.
Dirt and moisture-
Keeping entrance areas free from excessive moisture and dirt is essential, not just to enhance appearance, but also to prevent slips, trips and falls, which most commonly occur here.
These incidents can occur when people adjust to the different conditions between indoors and outdoors, which is made even worse if conditions are icy outside.
Specialist entrance are carpet absorbs dirt, debris and moisture that is brought in on shows and acts as a barrier to prevent these kinds of accidents.
Entrance area matting should be as close to the doorway as possible and be large enough to let visitors take several steps before moving onto another surface.
It is usually recommended that at least twice a year an entrance carpet should be deep cleaned, using hot water extraction and a good quality carpet detergent.
Efficient matting can save up to 65% of cleaning costs dedicated to floors and helps keep floors dry and safe.
Did you know that…
(Worldwide Cleaning Association)
(Carpet & Floor Covering Review)
(Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association)
(Credit Cleaning Matters May 16- Nov 15)
We’ve told our customers time and time again. Regular maintenance can save thousands Vs life cycle replacements. Here are the facts-
Replacing carpets is a costly proposition and in these challenging times extending its life through comprehensive cleaning and maintenance can result in significant savings.
Replacing your carpeting is indeed a very costly proposition, which can easily be a high six-figure or even seven-figure line item when the material and labour costs are involved. In the past carpets, curtains and upholstery were typically replaced every five years, but in these challenging economic times stretching the life of your soft assets even for a year ca result in significant savings,
In addition to the type and placement of the mats, consideration should be given to their length. According to the American Institute of Architects, 1.5 metres of matting captures 33 percent of external soil entering a venue, tree metres captures 52 per cent, six metres captures 86 per cent and eight metres captures nearly all soil.
(Credit ECJ September 2016)
The two main threats
Coughs and sneezes are two of the most common visible signs of the common cold but the next step up is influenza or flu, an infectious disease that is spread by those very coughs and sneezes we have become accustomed to. Caused by a different group of viruses to the common cold, its symptoms tend to last longer and be more severe. It’s possible to catch flu all year round, but it’s more prevalent in winter, earning it’s the alternative name of ‘seasonal flu’. Symptoms include fever/chills, cough sore throat, runt or stuffy nose, muscle pain, headaches and fatigue – a long list which has the capacity to floor even the healthiest of employees and prevent them from working for several days.
Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is another unwelcome seasonal visitor. A highly contagious virus, it can people of all ages causing vomiting and diarrhoea. This makes victims particularly susceptible to dehydration - an even more acute threat to the very young and very old. The disease particularly affects community settings like hospitals, restaurants and schools and, more famously, cruise ships – anywhere groups of people work and play together in a defined space for several hours or days at a time. The disease spreads through direct and indirect contact with others via hands and surfaces. There is no specific cure, so the only option is to let the infection run its course. At best it lasts no more than a couple of days but it can linger for much longer, again adding to woes of employers who can see their staff numbers plummet as the infection spreads through the workplace.
Reducing the risks
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - a US- Based organisation that is respected and across the globe for its work in public health – ‘Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness’.
Much research has proved this fact in hospitals and other healthcare settings, but hand hygiene is also critical in all walks of life, work and service provision. By ensuring that easy-to-use and effective products are freely and widely available, employers can reduce the risk of disruption to services and productivity, and the possible decrease in customer satisfaction, which could lead to the total loss of those customers, if taken to its ultimate conclusion.
Recommendations to minimise the spread of germs
(Credit C&M November 2015)
“Speak to us about what solutions we can put in place”. Chris Capocci Director
Steam cleaning brings important benefits to sectors including HealthCare, nursing homes, food retailing and catering, as well as facilities management. It is particularly valued where hygiene is critical; thanks to the many advantages of cleaning with super heated, dry system that kills bacteria and removes dirt without the use of chemicals.
Steam heated to temperatures over 150oC kills bacteria rapidly and removes grease and dirt. Remarkably, it leaves many surfaces dry to the touch because of the very high temperature. Furthermore steam cleaners can reach where people wiping surfaces by hand cannot, and without the risk of transferring dirt and sources of infection from one surface to another.
As steam cleaners require no chemicals they have environmental benefits, and there is no residue left behind that could harbour dirt. They also avoid contributing to the evolution of more resistant bacteria, as poorly applied chemicals cleaners can.
Another benefit from the absence of chemicals is that steam cleaning can be used on a whole range of surfaces. In hospitals, for example, steam cleaners are used on bed frames, mattresses and chairs, whereas in food retailing they are especially useful in areas where the highest standard of hygiene are vital- around fresh food.
A particular advantage in the healthcare and care home sectors is that steam cleaning is very effective against MRSA and VRE – two types of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and can pose major problems, especially the unwell and elderly. Contrary to some preconceptions, steam cleaners do not cause the aerosolisation of micro-organisms.
(Credit C&M November 2015)
If next time you meet one of our representatives and get a fist bump they’re not being rude.
Bumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, scientists have found.
Academics at Aberystwyth University in west Wales came to the conclusion following a series of tests on hand hygiene. They are now calling for the widespread adoption of the fist bump especially during flu outbreaks.
Using rubber gloves and a thick layer of the potentially deadly bacteria E.coli, scientists exchanged handshakes, high fives and fist bumps before working out which greeting gesture was the cleanest.
According to the study, high doses of bugs were passed on during a handshake. This was reduced by more than half during a high five and germ transfer was 90% lower when bumping fists.
Dr Dave Whitworth, senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University, said the hygienic nature of the fist bump was in part due to its speed (typically much quicker than a firm handshake) as well as there being a smaller contact area.
Direct contact is needed for most microbes to move, so minimising the parts of the hand that touch gives bacteria less chance to spread. The researchers also looked at grip strength and found that a stronger handshake increased the amount of bacteria shared.
The study, published in the August edition of the American Journal of Infection Control, was inspired by increased measures at promoting cleanliness in the workplace through the use of hand-sanitisers and keyboard disinfectants.
Dr Whitworth said “People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. But if the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases”.
The static season is here. With winter comes lower temperatures and lower humidity, to counter this we all turn the heating up the dry and warm the air. This reduction in humidity increases static problems.
Static is created when two dissimilar materials are rubbed together, then separated. One object will tend to give up electrons to the other, which will tend to accumulate them. This rapid, violent exchange of electrons between two objects, or between an object and a human being, produces static shock.
That’s the science. The good news is that it is completely treatable. If you have experienced this or had a colleague mention just give us a call and we can help you out.
Two separate research studies one in Europe and one in the USA both reported lower absenteeism and lower usage of medication among people with carpeted rooms. This was particularly true for people who suffered from allergies.
The German Asthma and Allergy Association (DAAB) reports that a study conducted by them shows that airborne dust particles are lower over a carpeted floor (30.4u g cu m) than over a smooth floor covering (62.9u g cu m).These values should be compared with the established limit value of 50u g cu m.
However we have always found it strange that most client would expect a laminate or stone floor mopped daily but can be hesitant to have their carpets deep cleaned one of twice a year. Vacuuming can remove large quantity of dry dirt over the course of a year but it won’t remove the residue of some of the more nasty substances walked in offices i.e. animal faeces/ oil / food debris. We suggest quarterly cleaning and deodorising which will improve the (1) cleanliness 2) aesthetic look which in turn has many benefits including staff feeling valued/clean company image (3) length of time a carpet will last before replacement is required.
Statics used are from: Contract Flooring Journal October 2005
Graffiti removal is estimated to cost anything from £200 million to £billion a year in the UK, and there’s an estimated £3.5 billion sticks of gum discarded each year. The industry has now produced a range of environmentally safe chemical coatings which provide permanent protection by repelling graffiti and gum.
Please speak to our office on the best method to protect your building.
A lot of the news stories we post on here relating to office germs stem from the same source, hand hygiene. We like to think that most of us wash our hands but unfortunately this is not the case. In a recent study which observed 3,749 people. Only half the men used soap while 15% failed to wash their hands altogether. The figures for women were 78% and 7% respectively.
The research also showed people were less likely to wash their hands in a dirty sink, while a clean sink increased the length of time hand washing. They also found that more people washed their hands if there was a sign encouraging them to do so. The recommend wash time is 15 to 20 seconds however the study found that only 5% of people washed for 15 seconds or longer.
In addition to washing it is important to use a good sanitising soap, the cost of these is negligible when calculating the dose output from the dispenser in compared to the heavily diluted brands out there.
In summary provide good quality sanitising soap and encourage your staff to wash and dry properly (preferably with hand towels as stated in our article posted 01/02/12) in order to maximise workplace hygiene.
Facts in this article are sourced from: European Cleaning Journal Article September 2013
At Cleancare we place touch point cleaning (i.e handrails, door handles, lift buttons) as one of an offices essential daily cleaning requirements. These areas that most if not all staff touch have been shown to be very high risk in the passing of germs in the office space.
We have recently come across the below article which we think our clients will find interesting, especially those who are either considering renovation or those that are committed to investing in the reduction of office germs.
Results from a clinical trial of antimicrobial copper touch surfaces in a neonatal care unit at a Greek hospital have shown that, in addition to contamination being 90% lower on copper surfaces, they also exert a halo effect whereby non-copper surfaces up to 50cm away exhibited a reduction in contamination of more than 70%.
The trail ran from July to August 2012 at Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital. Frequently touched surfaces such as door furniture, work surfaces, drawer tops and handles were replaced with items made from antimicrobial copper. Since touch surfaces have been shown to harbour the bacteria and viruses that cause healthcare-associated infection – and pathogens can survive for days or months on ordinary surfaces – a reduction in contamination offers a reduction in the risk of infections being picked up from these surfaces.
Results announced at the eighth Pan-Hellenic Health Conference of Health Administration, Finance and Policies in Anthens in December 2012 indicated reduction in contamination on the antimicrobial copper surfaces of 95%, in line with the findings of clinical trials in the UK,US and Chile.
The halo effect was also found in a 2010 trial at a US outpatient clinic, but this is the very first time it has been observed in an intensive care unit. A reduction of 70-75 per cent bio burden was reported by the researchers on non-copper items at up to 50cm distance from the antimicrobial copper surfaces.
Facts in this article are sourced from: European Cleaning Journal Article Feb/March 2013
A good office cleaning company doesn’t simply clean to a good visual standard. We must advise our clients as to where cleaning time can be used most effectively in order to support the daily running of their business. On a similar note as to our article posted on 7/12/11 regarding desk germs here we want to provide some brief points on the importance of keyboard cleaning.
Keyboards can harbour more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat research by ‘Which?’ has claimed. ‘Which?’ swabbed 33 keyboards, 4 were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured 5 times more germs than a toilet seat found in the same office which equates to 150 times the recommended limit for bacteria.
Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said that a keyboard is ‘’a reflection of what is in your nose and gut’’. Mr Wilson added ‘’Should someone have a cold in your office, or even have gastroenteritis, you’re very likely to pick it up from a keyboard’’.
The main causes of high levels of bacteria were mainly from poor hand hygiene and staff eating their lunch at their desks.
As the cost of rental space in London increases more and more offices are adopting a Hot Desk policy where they able to minimise the number of desks by staff simply turning up and using an available desk. This is a great saving on the per square foot rent however some of our clients can have up to 10 staff a day using the same desks. One persons cold can easily be passed on to all of these staff with the cost in sick days far outweighing the cost of keeping these keyboards clean.
Facts in this article are sourced from: European Cleaning Journal article June/July 08.
We have recently come across a new system that uses a specially design stripping pad and nothing else to remove polish from floors. Not having to use stripper in the cleaning process means that we can work faster, safer and with more easy. Application of stripper, soaking time and neutralising the floor are completely superfluous in this method. This means a substantial saving in labour costs and time, chemical materials and risks on the work floor.
A new study commissioned by the European Tissue Producers (ETS) has focused on the contamination of hand drying equipment and washroom floors. Eurofins-Inlab tested 150 washrooms equipped with warm air dryers (50), jet air dryers (50) or paper towel dispensers (50). ETS says that a user of a jet dryer is likely to be exposed to over 1,000 times more microorganisms than the user of a paper hand towel dispenser. The floors under jet air dryers had on average 20 times greater levels of contamination when compared with the floors under paper hand towel dispensers according to ETS.
The key for any company, of any size, to stay productive is to have your employees come to work everyday. Last year according to ergo-web, 5.8 million people called out of work for sick days. An average of 46.4 hours per employee were lost; to put this in perspective, if you have 20 employees you lost 928 hours of production. Why?
The answer is simple. Desks have 400 times more germs than toilets. By germs we mean bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Many of these germs can cause illness for you and your employees. Your average employee's workstation contains 20,961 germs per square inch compared to 49 germs per square inch on your company toilets. The worst are on shared equipment such as keyboards, mice, telephones and touch points. Your worst offender is the company water cooler containing 2.7 million germs per square inch.
A once a week cleaning by a professional cleaning company will assist in reducing employee sick days by nearly 74%. You should use a professional cleaning company due to the fact only 36% of your employees ever clean their work space. It is vital for you to protect yourself as well as your employees from germs that cause illness and spread bacteria throughout your company. A sanitary environment is essential to you, your employees and keeping your work place clean. Hiring a professional cleaning company such as Cleancare Int will save you more time and money than you can imagine.
Talk to us and find out how we could help take away all the stresses of your cleaning requirements.