In honor of International Housekeeping Week, it’s important to not only recognize housekeepers’ hard work, but also the importance of maintaining their health. And there’s no better way to keep germs away and prevent the spread of infection than through proper hand hygiene practices.
Housekeepers tackle big and small messes every day. While cleaning and sanitizing spaces such as hotel suites or lobbies, housekeepers can encounter and spread dangerous germs with the best cleaning tool available: their hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hands, and those infections can easily transfer and live on high-touch surfaces like door handles, light switches, faucets, and more.
These germs have the potential of infecting housekeepers with a cold, the flu, or worse, putting them out of work for days. Worker illness and injury can cost U.S. employers on the upwards of $225.8 billion each year, according to the CDC. Providing safe workspaces and promoting clean practices can help control this cost and keep employees feeling great. Germs left behind from a housekeeper can also infect other employees, visitors, and guests, resulting in negative reviews and a damaged brand image. In order to keep a housekeeper’s hands clean and spaces germ-free for everyone, hotel owners and managers must understand and promote the importance of hand washing not just before and after work, but throughout an entire shift.
Housekeepers, employees, and guests can stay better protected from harmful germs spread by hands through simple, everyday best practices, including:
1. Establish an effective hand hygiene and skin care program.
Most employees, including housekeepers, transfer germs by interacting with guests and other people throughout the day. Establishing a hand hygiene and skin care program within the workplace ensures employees have access to the right soaps and sanitizers that kill common germs to keep hands clean and soft. Consider using a foam soap and sanitizer solution that require less product for effective results and contain conditioners to improve skin hydration and prevent drying.
2. Select the right cleanser for the job.
There is an ongoing misconception that a hand cleanser’s performance is measured by its ability to clean hands aggressively. In actuality, most cleansers far surpass the user’s actual requirements. Make sure to choose a cleanser that takes into consideration the impact on the housekeeper’s hands, yet is still effective for the job.
3. Remind housekeepers to clean hands frequently.
Housekeepers have the potential to come in contact with many different types of germs. Whether cleaning a bathroom or wiping down a desk, housekeepers often clean up messes that include bodily fluids, used tissues, garbage, and other germ-infested items. If not handled properly, these messes can infect housekeepers who can continue to transmit germs onto others. Remind your housekeeping team of the importance of washing hands every time a cleaning project is finished. This can prevent the spread of infection from room to room and gives housekeepers healthy, clean hands to work with and rely on.
4. Provide multiple and easy-to-access hand soap and sanitizer dispensers.
With hand sanitizer dispensers easily available, housekeepers won’t have to wait for the next convenient moment to leave and clean their hands. Reliable, easy-to-use and access dispensers can also be used by other employees and guests to further promote hand hygiene. Providing personal-sized hand sanitizers can also help with keeping housekeepers hands clean when they are on-the-go.
5. Educate housekeepers on hand hygiene trends.
Provide housekeepers and employees with materials to help educate them on the importance of regular hand hygiene, such as posters and infographics. Housekeepers within hotels should be taught how to properly clean hands after handling used linens and similar items.
Housekeepers play an integral role in ensuring guests have a clean, well-maintained space during their stay. The work done by housekeeping can ultimately improve the bottom line for businesses and result in high ratings and memorable experiences. These workers need to be provided with the essentials for optimal cleaning results and to ensure their health remains a top priority.
While celebrating International Housekeepers Week, don’t forget to support a housekeepers’ health. Housekeepers work tireless hours to ensure spaces are thoroughly cleaned, no matter how big of a challenge it may be. Provide housekeepers with the necessary tools to clean effectively while maintaining proper hand hygiene.
About the Author
Isabelle Faivre is vice president of marketing at Deb Group North America.