It’s one of the simplest and most important things you do each day, but it is also the most misunderstood in the industry…..Infection Control. In our world today where people are so mobile, not only within the confines of a city or state, but of the world, the concerns about improper infection control practices across all industries are growing. In particular, in the US where we have a false sense of security believing that the risks are small and that there will always be a cure, but that is not always the case. Everything from ringworm to MRSA could, and probably is, entering your business everyday and may risk making you or your customers quite ill, given the right opportunity. MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is an “equal opportunity infector” that will happily infect anyone regardless of lifestyle, sex or age and can cause illness that results in horrific scarring to amputation and can even be fatal. Most shocking is that over 75% of those infected have no idea where they contracted the bug, indicative of it’s ability to lurk just about anywhere. That said, in settings where people are in close contact with others all day, using multi-use stations or implements, the risks increase and make infection control even more important. While a case of MRSA would certainly affect your business and livelihood, consider that even something as common as ringworm could have the same effect. Ringworm, a common fungus which is easily spread is tenacious and difficult to treat once someone is infected, so although it won’t kill anyone, it could very well kill your business! These along with a number of other viruses, bacteria and fungi pose unseen threats everyday as people are generally most contagious with these illnesses before they every have symptoms.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your business?
1. Stay home when you are sick and allow customers to cancel without penalty when they are sick (as long as that isn’t abused).
2. Practice proper Infection Control practices without fail! These steps should include:
3. Throw away all single use (porous items) immediately after use. Multi- use non-porous (metal, plastic, glass) items may be de-contaminated and re-used. After each use, wash with soap and water or a chemical cleaner like Ship Shape – then place items in Barbicide (hospital grade disinfectant) mixed as instructed on product label. Most disinfectants require items to stay visibly moist or submerged for 10 minutes (contact time) to be effective against things like MRSA. Barbicide is also available in a spray form and a wipe – the contact time for wipes is only 2 minutes! Always look for MRSA, HIV, HPV and Influenza at the very least on any disinfectant you use! If you are disinfecting at home, add E.coli and Salmonella to that list!!
4. Store all clean items separately from used items – both should be in closed, covered containers.
5. Wash hands between clients, before/after eating and before/after smoking. Proper hand washing is best accomplished with a lot of suds and warm tap water! It is the “sudsing” action that really cleans your hands, not the temperature of the water!
6. Ensure that any station, treatment table or other surface where a treatment is performed is disinfected and covered with clean or disposable linens for each client.