Sanitation and Disinfecting go further than just routine cleaning. The benefits for a sanitized facility go beyond just having a clean place to work, they can have a real impact on real lives, families, and the community. While it may seem like a normal routine when things go right, you'll definitely notice when things go wrong, especially when working with anything food-related. With poor sanitation; people can get sick, facilities can close, the contaminated product will be disposed of, lasting negative PR hangs around for some time, and the worst case would be deaths and the legal damages and potential charges.
We don't say this to paint a doomsday scenario in your head, but rather to encourage the seriousness of an advanced hygiene and safety protocol. Here are 6 tips to help you work on your Sanitation Solutions.
Start with your plan, you probably have a regular cleaning schedule, so let's start there. Here are the questions your team should be asking:
A good sanitation plan isn't static and is constantly evolving with the changing world. Covid-19 has taught us that microbiological threats can arise in places that aren't part of your regular cleaning schedule and spread from there. Don't leave any room for errors in your cleaning plan, make sure everything has a cleaning schedule.
High-use and high-traffic areas should be cleaned daily, if not frequently. But what about everything else in your facility? Hard to reach corners, underneath or behind appliances, and generally hard to reach areas are places that should be cleaned on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Also, anywhere that water can gather, spill or splash should also receive extra attention during deep cleaning procedures.
Your maintenance team and custodial staff are your best friends on the frontline. They will know the ins and outs of your facility better than anyone else because they have to repair and clean it daily. Work with them on developing your cleaning and sanitation plan and they'll know what works best. Their input is invaluable when making a cleaning schedule.
Empower your team and invest in them. Make sure their inventory is stocked and ready to go, these are definitely the people that you don't want cutting any corners. Are their safety certificates up to date? How is the equipment, do they have the right tools to do the job? Do they have access to adequate PPE? You should protect these people at all costs, their jobs protect your staff, facility, and customers.
While most of the sanitation focus is usually on indoor operations, it's important to acknowledge that exposure can start with outdoor contaminants coming inside. How clean are your entryways, outdoor break areas, waste disposal areas, and shipping docks? These are all points where people enter and exit your facility.
Touchless sanitizer dispensers can be placed along with signage at entryways to reinforce hygienic protocols like masks, sick policies, and social distancing measures. Boot wash stations and hand wash stations can also be put in high traffic areas that have a lot of debris and mess. You can keep contaminants out of your facility by controlling the points that exposure could occur.
While investing resources into sanitation might seem costly in the short term, it will be far less expensive than an outbreak or health hazard in the future. Don't skip on a proper sanitation plan or modern cleaning equipment; the cost of shutting down operations due to a health violation can be catastrophic, brand-damaging, and there can be looming legal actions taken if there are serious or adverse damages (i.e. Someone gets sick or dies). Sanitation plans will save more money in the long term than the initial costs will ever be.
You owe your stakeholders the chance to do the right thing. Create a culture where your team can safely raise issues and concerns without fear of retaliation. Encourage your team to report health violations if they see something, they will be the first boots on the ground to know if anything is wrong. Transparency will pay off when your team reports issues to you first, rather than the health department, which gives you the opportunity to take action and correct anything.
Always do the right thing, even if there is a health issue, it's better to own it rather than trying to cover it up. That always makes things worse in the public eye and can have serious legal implications.
The best way to handle sanitation issues and health code violations is to catch them before they arise. By investing in your custodial team, having a plan, and empowering your people; you can stop most issues before they arise. However, even in the heaviest controlled environments, things can still go wrong. It seems every few weeks the news is airing stories on bacterial outbreaks on thousands of pounds of vegetation has to be destroyed.
So don't only have a plan for prevention, but have a plan for all contingencies of all sizes and severities. This will allow your facility to be prepared for anything and act fast. Your team and customers will thank you for having everything covered.