Infection control and safety on the job

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2013

Hello Rose,
In preparing for the 2013 Best Hotel Housekeeping operations and training, I’d like some information on the topics of infection control and safety on the job. Your assistance is requested.

Aloha Michelle,
Indeed it is a smart move to focus on the topics of infection control and safety programs for 2013. Both topics bring out the realization that professional cleaning is a science and an art. First, let me emphasize that safety training must include a focus on cleaning chemicals. Training on blood-borne pathogens and the processes of cleaning body fluids is essential and should be documented and held annually.

Community-based infections are brought into the hospitality environment every day, and the resulting effects can be serious for the hotel, its staff, guests and the public. Because viruses and bacteria spread from person to person and surface to surface, there is a great need for education and monitoring of general hygiene practices in hotels and their housekeeping, food services and other departments.

Hotels have an obligation to provide guests and employees with a safe and secure environment. Currently, housekeeping practices vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industrywide. Generally, the validation method for hotel room cleanliness is a visual assessment, which has been shown to be ineffective in measuring levels of sanitation. A periodic performance and sanitation measurements is highly recommended.

A report last June noted that an experiment of surfaces in hotel rooms found television remotes to be among the most heavily contaminated with bacteria. Walls and table lamp switches and door knobs were also found to be highly contaminated with bacteria. Items on housekeeping carts carry the potential to cross-contaminate rooms. And, ironically, a major culprit in hotel cross-contaminate is the actual cleaning cloth that’s used daily to clean rooms.

A new approach to room cleaning is the “charging bucket” system, using micro-fiber cleaning cloths and flat mopheads. Proper training and application with a color-coded cloth program will improve cleaning processes and reduce cleaning chemical costs. Understanding epidemiology science and communicable diseases is a “must” for hotel executive housekeepers, housekeeping managers and directors of housekeeping services.

All should be aware that in the hospitality industry:

  • The spread of communicable diseases is a fact of life. On-going training is essential.
  • Illnesses spread because of close contacts that often take place by the senses of touch (feeling), taste (eating or drinking) and smell (breathing).
  • The spread of communicable diseases has a high impact on the health and well being of employees, staff and guests.
  • The spread of communicable diseases can be reduced, by way of prevention and managing of the environment and the application of proper cleaning chemicals and processes.
  • Communication, cooperation and training must be established.

Mahalo and Happy New Year,
Rose Galera, CEH

Posted in Clean Talk Columns.

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