Tag Archive for: healthy schools

The Healthy Schools Conference

Every student deserves a healthy learning environment; at least that’s what we were thinking when we decided to put together the Healthy Schools Conference. Taking place March 8, 2017 at Youngstown State University, the event will be comprised of various presentations on issues that are impacting the health of your school. Topics include the future of disinfection, indoor air quality, proper nutrition, physical education, green cleaning and more. We will be releasing the schedule of presentations within the next few week, but still feel free to visit the event website, sign-up for event updates, and you can even register for the event today!

While most people know us for cleaning supplies, we saw this event as an opportunity to bring together speakers on a diverse array of factors impacting school health. These presentations will be 15 to 20 minutes in length so you can get a high-level view of each topic and from there decide what you would like to learn more in-depth. This allows us to focus on the student as a whole and allows you to determine what actions will have the greatest positive impact on enhancing outcomes for your students.

We are very excited to be able to be part of a movement that is centered around creating the best, healthiest, environment in which students can thrive. Visit the event website for more details and we look forward to seeing you there!

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It’s Time to Dwell on Disinfectants

True or false? My disinfecting wipes leave my surfaces safe and disinfected immediately after use? …False. In fact, unless you used the wipes to keep the surface visibly wet for somewhere around 5 to 10 minutes then you really haven’t disinfected at all! Let’s dive into this subject a little deeper because the health of your facility depends on it.

Choosing the right disinfectant to use and applying it properly is a critical step in the cleaning process. Important information regarding dwell times and kill claims can be found on the product’s label. These label instructions will provide your staff with explicit information on how to properly use the product. But what are kill claims and dwell times? Helping your staff understand these important key terms will go a long way in assisting them to do their jobs well and ensure proper application of a disinfectant.

A dwell time is the contact time the disinfectant is required to remain on the target surface to effectively kill bacteria and germs. Each disinfectant will have a manufacturer’s recommended dwell time; these times may vary and must be followed closely for the product to perform effectively. These dwell times are established through various 3rd party EPA labs and may differ based on the target pathogen and specific product being tested.

Professionals are less likely to follow the instructed dwell time, especially if they are pressed for time. So, although the stress of janitorial work can be overwhelming, following the requirements of the disinfectant is a crucial part of cleaning for health. If the disinfectant isn’t left on the surface for the suggested contact time, the pathogens on the target surface are less likely to be killed, leaving customers, employees, staff, students, etc.  susceptible to infections and illnesses.

Additionally, disinfectants should only be used when needed. The CDC explains that some microorganisms have an innate resistance to certain disinfectants.  To ensure the safety of your cleaning team, your staff, the environment, and the efficacy of the product, be sure that your team is using these products only when needed and as recommended. Dwell time affects kill claims, kill claims are the key to a successful disinfecting program.

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Kill claims are a list of the microscopic organisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that each disinfectant is effective at eliminating. These lists are provided on the label of every disinfectant on the market.  Additionally, most disinfectants have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number.  This number, in combination with the EPA establishment number, indicates that a disinfectant has been proven effective, with a minimal risk to the user.

Every disinfectant is different and the labels are there to indicate which microscopic organism they can kill. For example, disinfectants can kill TB (tuberculosis) bacterium, H1N1 Influenza A virus, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and other pathogens. However, the disinfectant that kills MRSA may not work against the TB bacterium. Although this may not always be the case, it demonstrates the importance of selecting the proper disinfectant that is effective against the particular pathogen you want to kill.

Improperly used disinfectants are ineffective, so it’s important to ensure your staff  understands the label instructions before applying the product to any affected surface.  This will ensure that the job is completed in a safe and effective manner.

For more detailed information about our recommended disinfectants, contact us at Rhiel Innovative Solutions.

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What Should I Be Using to Disinfect?

Last week I answered the question “How often should I disinfect?” This brought up questions such as, “what should I use to disinfect?” I will briefly give you a quick overview of what you should look for to choose the best disinfectant for your facility.

When I am visiting a customer’s facility and we take a look at what is being used to disinfect we find that the disinfectant either doesn’t have the necessary kill claims to achieve the desired results or that the dwell times are so long that the product cannot achieve the claims it already has. This then leads us into a conversation about what they could be using to disinfect in a safer and more effective manner. Here are a few of the main points that are part of our discussion.

Kill Claims

Selection of the appropriate disinfectant or inhibiting agent should best align with a specific touch point environment at any given time. First consider the categories or types of anticipated pathogens. Certain illnesses and infections are transferred through surfaces every day. In these cases, a preventative agent is usually broad spectrum in design and appropriate. Other pathogens are seasonal in behavior and disinfectants may need to be more specific during these times. In some cases, more than one disinfectant application is required to maintain healthy touch points. Areas can also experience outbreak conditions where special disinfectants are needed above preventative disinfection efforts. With the correct systems and disinfectants in use, both preventative and outbreak conditions are managed more effectively. Many cleaning products are used with the expectation of disinfection properties, but remember you must first clean and then you disinfect. Water can be a viable cleaner when the right disinfectant is applied afterwards. Eliminate the step of wiping to disinfect. Additionally, most disinfectants need dwell time on the surface to perform so if that dwell time isn’t achieved then wiping can render the best disinfectants useless.

How effective is your disinfection protocol? Take our free “5 Steps to a Healthier Facility” ecourse

Dwell Times

To achieve the best result, source a disinfectant with a fast kill claim ( 30 seconds) without the need to wipe it off. This type of product can be sustainable in nature which makes it friendly to people and the environment which in turn helps maintain a healthy chemical free environment. An onsite generated disinfectant is a great source for this type of product which can achieve a 30 second kill claim and promote the healthy and safety of your staff and the environment.

This is not an exhaustive explanation of how you should choose your next disinfectant, but if you focus on the two main factors mentioned above then you will be well on your way to a healthier facility. If you would like more content like this then scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our blog. Also, be sure to check out our 5 Steps to a Healthier Facility ecourse (it’s free so you have nothing to lose!).

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How Often Should I Disinfect?

A question I often get when discussing disinfection is “how often should I disinfect?” The answer is it depends. If you are disinfecting a room daily that is only used twice per week then you are doing more than you need to. If you disinfect a room once a week that is used everyday then you are not disinfecting enough. Below I will briefly explain how you can determine the frequency at which you should be disinfecting by analyzing the touch points in your facility.

The more a surface is touched, the more often it should be disinfected. A protocol unique and best suited to your environment begins here. Touch points, or touch point surface areas can be categorized three ways. Each will receive the appropriate level of disinfection frequency.

Not all touch points require the same frequency of surface disinfection. For example, door knobs, computer equipment, elevator controls, hand rails, chair arms, table tops and many other surface points are designed to be touched and should be considered high touch points. Touch points surrounding points designed to be touched including doors, door frames, locker surfaces and tabletop bottoms are touched less, and may be categorized as medium touch points.

Low touch points are areas that may include any surface mentioned above, yet touch traffic is limited or infrequent altogether. Examples may be walls that are not around areas of heavy foot traffic or floor boards. By reducing how often you disinfect these low touch points you can focus your time and energy on addressing areas that receive more touches.

A proper surface disinfection protocol will become most effective if aligned to the real activity in your spaces. Document your touch points and begin to map out your frequency of disinfection schedule or best practices accordingly. It is important to disinfect your high touch point as often as possible. Many times we look at the cost of labor and product over the cost of sick people in the space.  Productivity and lost work time is a much higher cost then disinfecting . Its also important to remember you will actually save labor and product by identifying the high touch points from the medium and low so that you can maximize your labor and product by not giving equal time to low and high touch points.

5 steps to a healthier facility ecourse

7 Unhealthy Places in Your School

Schools are full of “hot spots” for germs and bacteria. Keep your school and students healthy by focusing on these 7 places.

Let’s start with the bathroom door, even though the bathroom is cleaned on a regular basis the bathroom door is another story.  Not all kids wash their hands like they should, so when they leave the bathroom it could be hazardous to your health.  A bathroom door should be considered a “high touch point” and should be part of the daily cleaning protocol. When cleaning the bathroom door remember to disinfect the door jam as well, many times students will run their hand across the door jam as they leave a room causing the transfer of germs and bacteria to others.

Another item that gets passed by is the cafeteria tray which rarely gets wiped off let alone disinfected. With a variety of food and students touching them they can be a hot dwelling point for some serious germs.  Kitchen staff should wash and sanitize the lunch trays after each day’s use to keep down the spread of germs and bacteria. Again another “high touch point “ in a school environment.

How about sack lunches? Typically the contents of a sack lunch will spoil before lunchtime. Packed food should be refrigerated in an insulated lunch box with frozen ice packs in the box to freeze any juice boxes. Doing this will reduce the number of food-borne illnesses which in turn will keep the school building safer from the transfer of illness. Typically once a child becomes sick in school the chances of spreading bacteria germs and viruses triple.

Students spend most of their time at their desk and at lunch tables during the day, which means sneezes, coughs, nasal leakage, well, you get it… ends up all over these surfaces. Even though these surfaces are cleaned, very few are actually disinfected with the proper disinfectant and allowed to dwell the proper amount of time to be effective. It’s important that the schools be sure to properly disinfect these surfaces to reduce bacteria and viruses on these surfaces.

Probably one of the most overlooked place for germs and viruses are art rooms and band/music rooms. Most of these classrooms have students sharing supplies which in turns to the spread of bacteria and viruses. The teachers and building maintenance department people do not make these supplies and instruments a priority for disinfection, however, can be a leading cause of the spread of germs in a school building.

Sports equipment, especially wrestling mats are the most likely cause of staph and MRSA infections in a school. These areas although cleaned and disinfected at a high rate are not usually disinfected with the proper dwell time or a disinfectant with the appropriate kill claims and therefore are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to spread to the student-athlete. Football helmets, basketballs, and other sports gear need to be disinfected to help reduce the outbreaks of illness.

Finally, school buses rarely if ever are cleaned properly let alone disinfected. This is a very high source of spreading viruses and bacteria to other students. From kids licking the condensation off the window to sneezing and coughing in a closed space, it’s easy to see how the school bus is most likely the most likely place to spread germs and bacteria.

Does your school have a disinfection protocol that is designed to address high-risk touch points and help you achieve your infection control goals? I’d love to spend a few minutes discussing the health and safety of your students and staff. You can book time with me directly or if you would prefer to learn a bit more about keeping your school healthy then I would suggest you check out our free email course “5 Steps to a Healthier School.”

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