Infection Prevention

Infection prevention and control is an increasingly important topic in today's global landscape. Spanning across all countries, all age groups, and all types of business, infectious diseases continue to be one of the leading causes of sickness and mortality in the world today.

What are infectious diseases?

Infectious diseases are disorders caused by pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that can be spread directly or indirectly from one individual to another through fluid exchange, animals and insects, or the surrounding environment. In order to prevent the spread of such infections, a well-planned, effective infection prevention and control program is necessary in workplaces, community facilities, education environments, and healthcare settings. 

Infection Control

Types of infectious diseases

Types of infectious diseasesPut simply, infectious diseases are germs, or microbes, that can be found everywhere from in the air, soil, water, and on your skin and in your body. To begin to understand the complexities and wide breadth of infectious diseases, we must first look at the four main kinds of germs, which are:

  • Bacteria - single-celled germs that multiply quickly. They may give off toxins, which are harmful chemicals that can cause sickness. Examples of bacteria that cause infection are Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.
  • Viruses - tiny capsules that contain genetic material. Viruses invade your cells and can multiply, killing, damaging, or changing the cells, ultimately making you sick. Viral infections include HIV/AIDS and the common cold.
  • Fungi - primitive plant-like organisms such as mushrooms, mold, mildew, and yeasts. C. auris, ringworm, and athlete's foot are examples of fungal infections.
  • Parasites - animals or plants that survive by living on or in other living things. Malaria and cryptosporidium are examples of infections caused by a parasite.

Below is a list of some of the most common infectious diseases found in the workplace, healthcare and education environments, and community facilities; all of which can be spread by improper hand washing and contact with infected common-touch surfaces.

Norovirus • Influenza • Common cold • Meningitis • MRSA • E. coli. • Hepatitis A • Lyme disease

Hand Hygiene - Common Diseases

Awareness is the first step in preventing the spread of all types of infection. Gaining an understanding of the existence of various diseases combined with best practices to prevent their spread is the best way to limit sickness and suffering, and loss of productivity in your place of work. 

Why infection prevention and control matters in the workplace

One of the most common measurement of consequences to the spread of infectious diseases continues to be tracking morbidity and mortality (sickness and death) rates. Although this information is important in framing the importance of infection control, it fails to address the economic factors that the spread of disease impacts.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), infectious diseases can directly affect a range of economical factors, from productivity of a single company to loss of economic welfare at a national level. At the micro, or company level, issues such as lowered productivity among workforce and increase in direct and indirect costs are among the leading concerns in the workplace. 

Infection Control in the Workplace

Average Sick Days per YearEnclosed environments, like the workplace, where people are in close proximity with one another are at a higher risk for the spread of infection. Poor hygiene habits will lead to increased illness and can result in disruption cost, lost productivity, reduced employee efficiency through illness at work and lower morale.

According to a study from the University of Arizona, a virus could only take a few hours to contaminate most of an office building’s high-touch surfaces like door knobs,  light switches, or hand rails. Depending on the severity of these germs, there could be very serious consequences to their spreading.

Having an infection prevention and control program in place in the workplace has many benefits. First, with good infection control habits, employees are less likely to get sick and miss work. Studies show that on average, employees take 9 sick days a year, which can cost a company several million dollars in productivity, if you consider company size and if another person is paid to take over. One study cited that collectively, American employers lose $260 billion a year due to poor employee health. At most workplaces, time is money, and with proper cleaning and the regular disinfection of high-touch surfaces, along with proper hand hygiene, employees are less likely to pick up viruses or infections and be forced to miss work, costing the company in both time and money.

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Creating a clean and healthy environment also results in increased employee morale and a higher level of credibility with customers. Employees want to know that their employer cares about their well-being, something as simple as having hand sanitizer accessible throughout your facility can send a clear signal that a business is invested in the well-being of their employees and customers. 

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Would you like more information on infection control and prevention programs and products for workplace settings?

Swish is dedicated to helping our customers achieve clean, safe, and healthier environments. Our Swish experts can help assess your facility's needs to determine the proper solutions for your unique challenges.

Contact us today for more information on infection control or to schedule your free facility assessment.

Infection Control in Healthcare Environments

Infection Control PracticesIt is imperative that healthcare environments are diligently following good infection control practices. Because many patients at hospitals or care facilities already have weaker immune systems, it’s vital that precautionary measures are taken to prevent potential harm from hazards. Infection protection is not only important for visitors/patients, but employees too. Proper hand hygiene and surfaces disinfection procedures are paramount to reducing infection outbreak within healthcare environments. 

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Germs are found in many areas of a healthcare environment. Examples of environmental sources of germs include:

  • Dry surfaces in patient care areas (e.g., bed rails, medical equipment, countertops, and tables)
  • Wet surfaces, moist environments, faucets and sinks, and equipment such as ventilators
  • Indwelling medical devices (e.g., catheters and IV lines)
  • Dust or decaying debris (e.g., construction dust or wet materials from water leaks)

Meeting best practices for general cleaning and disinfection in healthcare environments is often challenging, due to the revolving door of patient admissions and the need to have rooms prepared as quickly as possible. Often these time demands equate to the proper steps being forgotten. 

By providing staff with easy-to-use, yet highly effective products and programs, combined with the ongoing training of best practices, cleaning standards in healthcare facilities can be maintained to the highest level. 

Would you like more information on infection control and prevention programs and products for healthcare settings?

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Swish is dedicated to helping our customers achieve clean, safe, and healthier environments. Our Swish experts can help assess your facility's needs to determine the proper solutions for your unique challenges.

Contact us today for more information on infection control or to schedule your free facility assessment.

Infection Control in Education

Infection prevention in schools

Infectious diseases are a major cause of illness among school-aged children. Schools and daycares present numerous opportunities for infections to be passed from child to child. 

Children attending grade school or nursery school have a higher risk of spreading and developing infections due to several factors including the close proximity and nature of their play, and sharing their possessions, food, and germs. As well, children are not always conscious or careful about their hygiene and may lack the well-established immune system required to fight off various diseases. Preventing the spread of infectious diseases in schools is more likely to be successful when the following practices are put in place:

  • Proper and frequent hand hygiene - educating children on the skills of hand hygiene and cough etiquette is important in breaking the chain of infection;
  • Appropriate implementation of proper infection prevention and control measures in schools will minimize transmission of infection both within the school and wider community.

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Surface cleaning and disinfection is an important part of the school custodial team's daily duties. With some germs being able to survive outside the body for hours or even days under the right conditions, it's important that commonly touched surfaces such as desks, keyboards, light switches and toys are frequently cleaned and disinfected. Doing so will decrease the chance of disease being spread among the school population of both students and staff , which is important because when either party is absent, there is a huge loss in productivity. Additionally, when young students have to stay home sick, this causes issues for parents, who may have to leave their own work to take care of them.

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Stop the spread of germs

Blog Article: Stopping the spread of germs in K-12 schools. Learn more

Would you like more information on infection control and prevention programs and products for educational settings?

Swish is dedicated to helping our customers achieve clean, safe, and healthier environments. Our Swish experts can help assess your facility's needs to determine the proper solutions for your unique challenges.

Contact us today for more information on infection control or to schedule your free facility assessment. 

Difference Between Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing

Knowing the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing methods is essential to properly kill the microorganisms, bacteria, viruses that cause illness. 

Cleaning: Removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces and objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting

Blog Article: Differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Learn More

Disinfecting: Kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing: Lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces/objects to lower the risk  of spreading infection.

Properly clean and disinfect surfaces

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Properly cleaning and disinfecting is not complicated, but when done improperly, the desired effect may suffer. Here are some of the steps to ensure that a surface is properly cleaned.

  • Ensure your solutions are properly diluted and are suitable for the surface you want to clean, otherwise they won’t be as effective. Some products need water to work but too much or too little water renders the product ineffective, and in some cases, dangerous. For example, Ethyl alcohol is a flammable disinfectant with an optimal concentration range being 60-90% solutions with water. Any solution with more than 50% ethanol is easily ignitable.
  • Over-cleaning can cause physical damage to the surface (eg. staining, corrosion) and be harmful to people who may come in contact with it. Over-cleaning can also leave residues, which, again, is both a surface and personnel risk. 
  • It’s also important to follow the dwell times for specific products. Read the labels to know how long a product needs to sit before you can continue the process. Those few minutes matter when it comes to disinfecting because some chemicals need that time to work. They need to have enough time to properly find and break down the bacteria. Ignoring dwell times could result in the bacteria becoming resistant to the chemicals. 
  • When disinfecting, it’s important to clean the surface prior to disinfecting to achieve the best level of sanitation. Disinfectants don't remove dirt or grime, but bacteria could be under it. Cleaning doesn't kill many germs, it mostly removes them or loosens them. Disinfectant is needed to kill. 
  • When wiping, the type of cloth matters too. Microfibre is the best choice for several reasons. One, it's absorbent so it can be used longer than other cloths and with less product. Two, it's made to get into small crevices and clean more effectively. Three, it won’t leave scratches or streaks. All this is possible because the microfibres, which are microscopically thin fibers, attract dirt and are durable, making these cloths the ideal cleaning choice for most cleaning jobs.

Swish has an easy-to-use solution to help you minimize cleaning and disinfecting time while improving the effectiveness of your overall cleaning program. Want to learn more? Follow the link below.  

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The importance of using the correct concentration and following the label

There are many benefits to ensuring correct concentration of disinfectants and other cleaning solutions. The first is that certain chemicals can damage surfaces or could be harmful to people in close proximity, so to protect your environment and all its aspects, using the correct concentration is key.

Furthermore, from a business perspective, using the correct concentration saves you money because you won’t use up solution as fast and have to replace it as often. Another reason to ensure you use the correct concentration is that the proper dilution is what’s needed to be effective. Too little could mean the surfaces don’t get cleaned to the required level, and too much could leave a residue or aid in the development of superbugs.

Superbugs are advanced bacteria that develop a resistance to disinfectants, but they're only a concern when not correctly using disinfectants where and how they’re supposed to be used. The safest way to use disinfectants is to read the bottle/dispenser, so you can guarantee that your environment is getting the proper cleaning procedure from how to clean, how often to clean, the dwell time, the types of surfaces, and how much solution to use at what dilution. By strictly following correct cleaning and disinfecting practices, you won’t overuse disinfectants and the risk of superbugs, which can spread and infect people quickly, will be much lower. 

A safe, proper cleaning program is never a place for shortcuts or guess-work. For whatever solutions you're using, ensure that the on-the-bottle instructions are followed closely. 

Hand hygiene

Since our hands are responsible for the spread of 80% of common infectious diseases, proper hand hygiene continues to be universally recognized as the smartest, most cost effective means of infection control. By promoting proper hand hygiene, whereby hands are washed at least five times a day and individuals have easy access to hand sanitizer, the risk and frequency of colds, influenza and other infections can be significantly reduced. 

Proper Hand washing

Hand washing with soap and sanitizing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:

  • People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
  • Removing germs through hand washing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
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Blog Article: The single most important way to reduce the spread of germs. Learn More

Ensuring employees follow proper hand hygiene protocol after using the washroom is the single most important step in managing disease transmission in the workplace. As an employer, providing a high quality soap and the proper amount of soap dispensers, along with an ongoing educational program are important steps in fighting infectious diseases at your place of business. 

For more information on the benefits of a proper hand washing program  in your workplace as well as hand washing solutions to keep your employees safe and productive, visit our Hand Hygiene in the Workplace page.

Ensure your staff and visitors are safe from infection with a proper hand hygiene program

Swish has several solutions to help you improve hand hygiene in your facility. Want to learn more? Follow the links below.  

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Did you know that just because a surface looks clean doesn’t mean that microbial contaminants aren’t still present?

 

As part of our commitment to providing our customers with solutions to create clean and healthy environments, we’ve partnered with OptiSolve® to provide third-party verification of cleaning efficacy. In other words, Optisolve® allows you to visualize, verify and validate the the results of your cleaning program.

OptiSolve® is a proprietary imaging technology that makes the invisible visible, revealing contamination that may be left behind on surfaces after cleaning. By providing new insights, Optisolve® allows you to validate investments already being made in cleaning activities and resources. The outcome is a safer and healthier environment for staff, executives, visitors, patients, residents, guests, students, athletes, etc.

OptiSolve® provides a proactive and preventative service to enhance and advance cleaning procedures to reduce the spread of harmful pathogens. This service is useful all types of settings from hospitals to executive offices to sports facilities to schools.

For more information on Optisolve®, contact Swish today.

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Contact us today for all your infection control needs