More employees and the workforce is returning or has returned to their workplace two months after the lockdown lifting. This means, generating more attendance and traffic within the office compound, and creating more interaction and engagement among one another. While there has been positive outcome in the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping your people safe is an ongoing and continuous process. Rentokil shares ways on how to protect your returning workforce and pest control and disinfection measures to apply at your premise.
Three key risk areas our employees are facing
Common pest infestation
Rats, cockroaches and ants are among various pest species commonly found in a workplace. This is due to reasons comprising food, shelter and water. Office has a vast supply of food opportunities such as the food leftovers, waste, crumbs and spilled drinks and water. In addition, it is a large and open-concept setting, with multiple entries such as entrance doors and windows. This promotes pest entry and possible pest infestation. Not forgetting, the condition and integrity of the property plays a vital role in starting a pest infestation. For instance due to wear and tear, weather and aging, there are cracks and gaps resulting that allow pests to enter.
One harmful risk common among these three pests is the diseases they transmit as they pick up pathogens in filthy and unsanitised conditions. This includes Salmonella, E. Coli and even the Hantavirus. Most of us would have experienced the nasty food contamination symptoms such as contracting headache and/or fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, muscle aches and chills. This is largely due to the following
- Uncleaned or exposed food and eating tools on the pantry or work desk
- Inadequate housekeeping and sanitation in the office space
- Poor office habits and culture that promotes pest infestation
- Unresolved pest infestation that allows it to escalate
- Weak proofing and line of defence against pest entries
Pest control for rats in office
Rats, in particular, not only cause harm to our health but our safety as well. Due to their needs to gnaw regularly to keep their incisors in shape, they tend to chew cellulose materials, wires and electrical sockets. They are known to hide in IT server rooms filled with these electrical gadgets. Thus, putting employee’s safety at risk of potential short circuit, power trip and fire in severe cases. They enjoy playing hide and seek, are night goers and flexible to squeeze in corners and spaces. This increases the challenge to deal with a rat infestation adequately. Hence, it is essential not to compromise the rat control programme in order to get rid of rats effectively.
Contracting dengue fever
We are expecting to experience a surge in dengue cases in Singapore with bothering numbers as high as over 10,000 cases as of mid-year. Getting rid of mosquitoes has also been a continuous pest control concern. Firstly, weather changes allowing more receptacles to develop and warm weather promotes mosquitoes’ activities. Secondly, there is an increase in mosquitoes’ immunity and resistance to chemicals. Thirdly, urbanisation and lifestyle presence plays a vital role in delivering successful mosquito prevention. Finally, there is abundance of mosquito breeding cited indoors, due to negligence in housekeeping and facility maintenance. Particularly, if your workplace resides within the dengue clusters zone, do seek professional mosquito control that eliminates both adult mosquitoes and larvae breeding.
Transmission of bacteria and viruses
Because of the coronavirus that is happening globally, act of coughing and sneezing becomes a point of judgement and scrutiny. Besides the emotional and psychological challenges, these cross-contamination activities can transmit bacteria and viruses, putting other employees at risks. It takes a few seconds to transfer bacteria among contaminated surfaces to individuals through close physical contact and via body secretions. Without cultivating good personal hygiene and having sufficient disinfection and sanitisation treatment in place, your employees may risk falling sick with common diseases such as Influenza, coronaviruses and Staphylococcus.
Regular cleaning and wiping of the common touch points and surface is not adequate to address these harmful pathogens. They merely remove dirt, grime and particles, keeping the place clean and possibly removing traces of pests and their eggs and droppings. Professional pest control specialists utilise ULV misting equipment and regulatory approved disinfectant to disinfect the premise. They are required to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhere to proper decontamination protocols to ensure optimal safety standards are met.
Seven ways to keep your people safe
Control mosquito population and eliminate breeding
Start by protecting your employees from mosquito bites, particularly the female Aedes Mosquitoes that require blood meal for their protein supply and reproduction purposes. They are active in the daytime and accompany your work hours if they have the opportunity to slip through.
There are indoor and outdoor mosquito traps available to lure and trap these flying mosquitoes around you. In addition, you may also raise some education and awareness on how to identify signs of mosquito infestation and possible areas that can breed mosquito larvae.
Remove pathogens to avoid transmission of diseases
Besides providing hand sanitisers and hand soaps for employees to maintain top hand hygiene, surfaces should be frequently treated to remove harmful pathogens. This includes the desk and seats, printing equipment, door handle, counter top and various common touch points. However, there are many disinfection options in the market, and it is essential to opt for disinfection misting treatments that are safe, has effective and lasting residual effect, and effectively reduces viruses such as the Influenza and coronavirus.
Ensure good indoor air quality condition
Improving the indoor air quality should never be a situational and reactive-based action such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. This is because there are various harmful airborne particles, chemicals, gases and biological agents that we are inhaling in the office environment every day. The volatile organic compound (VOC) emits gases including cleaning agents, paint and varnishes, aerosols, particularly frequently used office tools such as copiers, adhesives, markers and correction fluids.
Long-term exposure to these VOCs can lead to health effects such as eyes, nose and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea and possible skin reactions. Install an air purification unit that can filter pollution and circulate healthier and cleaner air, while maintaining good PM2.5 and humidity level. It is important to find units with efficient filtration properties including the HEPA and activated VOC filtration.
Cultivate optimal hand hygiene among employees
Washing of hands and sanitising them sounds basic and common, however this personal hygiene habit is often forgotten or neglected due to rush factors and busy work schedule. Common poor hygiene etiquette includes:
- Not washing hands thoroughly and drying them after using the washroom
- Sneezing and coughing with droplets in the open space without covering
- Leaving used and soiled tissues on table tops or seats
- Shaking hands or interact closely when an individual is unwell
- Skipped the hand washing regime before and after meals
Start promoting positive hand hygiene habits by providing sufficient hand soap dispensers and sanitisers for usage. In addition, raise awareness on the importance of hand washing with easy to follow hand wash steps.
Engage in regular pest control for consistent protection
In a high traffic volume environment with multiple exits and entrances, it can be challenging to control and contain the pest population unless with the engagement of a pest control company. Firstly, the risk of cross infestation is higher for offices located within a commercial building with multiple tenants. Secondly, inadequate daily work habits and lapses in housekeeping can promote pest infestation. Thirdly, DIY pest eradication methods tend to deter and repel pests for a short term and quick relief. Finally, professional specialists can recommend good pest prevention tips especially in dealing with cockroach infestation that is not highly welcome by most employees.
Prevent food contamination and poisoning risks
Employees suffering from food contamination deriving from their office facility not only compromises brand reputation but incur financial costs. This includes medical reimbursement, workday and productivity lost and operational disruption. Especially for larger workplace settings with cafes and canteens, there is a risk of food contamination due to presence of pests and poor food handling. It is essential not to place your workforce at risk of inadequate food safety. Getting rid of cockroaches is one way to minimise risk of food contamination as they are known to navigate around the most unhygienic and filthy conditions such as food dumps and waste bins.
Keep floor dry to avoid slips and falls
According to the WSH Council, there has been an increase in injuries resulting from slips, falls and machinery incidents. In particular, the slips, trips and falls incident category remains a top concern with an increase in cases in late 2019. In fact, there has been several enforcement actions taken including stop-work-orders and fine penalties. One of the key areas identified is poor housekeeping of the environment, presence of trip hazards such as loose wires and clutters and not addressing wet and slippery floors. Some common causes of wet floor include:
- Not wiping dry spills and water leaks on the floor and surfaces
- Flicking wet hands after a hand wash instead of drying them
- Absence of floor mats that helps to trap and absorb moisture
- Defective piping and plumbing systems that causes leaks
- Wet and rainy weather that drips and accumulates moisture
Have housekeeping and facility management services
Washroom cleaning and janitor services
Washroom is perhaps the most visited and utilised area in an office. It is a location that potentially receives the most number of complaints. For example, a wet and slippery floor especially near the sink area. Bad odour arising from the cubicle that is unpleasant and perceived as unhygienic. Soiled and dirty toilet seats that harbour millions of bacteria. Urine stains that are built-up on the floor over time. Above all, encrustation seen in the toilet urinal and cistern that develops foul smell eventually. In summary, keeping washrooms clean and hygienic is one way to minimise cross contamination risks and transmitting diseases through bacteria found in washrooms.
Regular air-conditioning maintenance
Do you know maintaining your air-conditioning facilities helps in improving its efficiency and eliminates additional stress in working harder due to accumulation of dust and debris? It affects the air-flow and potentially pushes out compromised air quality. Besides enjoying cost and functional efficiency, poorly maintained units will cause a build-up of particles, germs and bacteria and allow mould and fungi to breed. Exposing to these allergens can trigger allergies and respiratory ailments.
Deploy general facility cleaning
Keeping the office environment clean including the common walkway and workspace is an essential facility management every business should adopt. Firstly, start to engage regular carpet cleaning to eliminate dirt, grime and dusts. Secondly, arrange for curtain or blind steam cleaning to eliminate dust mites and particles. Thirdly, take care of waste refuse and removals to prevent pests feeding on decomposed matters. Finally, general cleaning of the facility including maintaining the ventilator, windows cleaning, workstations wiping and maintaining hygiene standards of seats and pantry can create a healthier and conducive work environment.
Maintaining optimal workplace safety
Check for damaged and exposed wires and electrical sockets
Wires, electrical sockets and powerpoints can suffer from long-term wear and tear or poor handling over time, causing them to damage and degenerate. Negligence in identifying these defects and replacing them promptly can put your people at risks of injuries relating to electrical shocks, electrocution and burns. In worse case scenarios, if these exposed wires are exposed to combustible elements. This may result in a fatal accident such as fire.
Inspect IT server room for rat infestation
There have been cases and encounters spotting rats hiding in IT server rooms. They usually slip in through the gaps of the partition and into the room or via the false ceiling which rats tend to hide. Particularly to help wear their teeth down, they had to gnaw constantly especially items such as wires, electrical cable, floorboard and wire mesh that belongs to the fire hazard-causing list of items. This can result in fire incidents and data storage implications if a proper rat control programme is not in place. Rentokil initially offers digitised pest control solutions to detect, monitor and control rats efficiently and effectively. It also minimises human-to-human interactions and sends efficient signals to a common centre when rat activities are found.
Review structure integrity and stability
Have you noticed cases where ceiling drops down, beams and panels will weaken and fall over or cracks and damages on the wall. Some possible reasons include structure degeneration, weather expansion, wear and tear, moisture and damp conditions and even pest infestation. Termites is a pest that is capable of chewing off wood and destroying the structure over time. Termite infestation is challenging to spot and detect, as they tend to live underground and nest within structure. Termites require moisture to survive and can travel up stories to infest. In fact, door and window frames are susceptible to drywood termite infestation. They are damaged and potentially loosen its grip if untreated.
Call Rentokil Singapore at 6347 8138 for pest control services today.