How Janitors contribute to cross-contamination

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Janitors are responsible for the cleanliness and maintenance of many types of establishments, including hospitals, schools and restaurants. In most places, there are procedures and regulations to be followed in order to achieve optimal cleanliness and, ultimately, prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

But did you know that janitors can also spread infection through cross-contamination, if there aren’t proper cleaning protocols in place?

According to Infection Control Today (2019),

“Cross-contamination is defined as the spread of germs from one surface or object to another and frequently occurs when performing janitorial tasks.”

Robert Shor, Infection Control Today, 2019

Infection Control Today describes several possible causes of janitorial cross-contamination, which include mop heads, towels, and gloves. While it is known that these sources are associated with the spread of infection, there is one which is often overlooked: the gloves worn by the janitor. While cleaning many different rooms, and even different buildings, the janitor usually keeps the same gloves for the duration of the cleaning. When changing rooms and buildings, he is spreading the bacteria that are on his gloves.

Infection Control Today suggests the following protocol for janitors’ use of gloves:

  • Don gloves before performing cleaning tasks (use gloves that are appropriate for the task being performed).
  • Change gloves in the following situations:
    • When they become soiled, torn or punctured
    • After cleaning areas with high concentrations of germs (restrooms)
    • When going from building to building or floor to floor
    • After cleaning each classroom (room), restrooms, kitchen areas
  • Avoid contaminating your hands when removing gloves by following CDC guidelines.
  • Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizers after janitorial tasks are completed.

Janitors play a very important role when it comes to keeping establishments sanitary and safe. That is why it is crucial to develop protocols to ensure the highest quality of cleaning.

Source: Infection Control Today, Vol. 23, No. 3, March 2019

Beware, microbes can survive in hospital environment

microbes

For a long time, cleaning has been all about the look; fresh smell and the absence of stains or dirt were the criteria to determine that a place is clean. Today, these criteria are still generally accepted in environments such as offices and classrooms.

It’s common knowledge, however, that microbes (bacteria or viruses) invisible to the human eye represent a risk for spreading infections. Take the example of the influenza virus: it can survive for up to 48 hours on a hard surface!

Without cleaning and disinfection procedures or a quality check procedure, microbes can survive in hospital environment.

Three key elements have to be considered in order to perform an infective risk analysis:

  • Is the patient carrying a disease agent? Disease agents are classified based on their spreading capacity and their virulence. The choice of a disinfectant will be based on this.
  • Do the functional activities of a sector represent a risk of spreading infections from the environment? E.g.: food service, offices, Intensive Care, etc.
  • The intensity of contact is related to the traffic and the surfaces that are more likely to be touched. E.g.: bathroom fittings.

Have you already performed an infective risk analysis? We can help, make sure to visit our unique offer for Diagnostic Analysis of Hospital Housekeeping Service. My next post is going to explain how cleaning allows reducing risks of infection among patients.