We’re starting a series of blogs looking more closely at infection control. It’s one of the specialist services which we deliver, and which we’re hugely proud of. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at MRSA. We’ll take a closer look at the risks associated with this ‘superbug’. And we’ll focus on how healthcare facilities and other workplace environments can limit their risks.
A background to bacteria
There seems to be a growing sense that people don’t take science seriously. In February, one of the anchors on Fox News in the USA claimed he hadn’t washed his hands for 10 years. (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/feb/11/germs-are-not-real-fox-news-host-pete-hegseth) He went on to say, “Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.” He claimed his comments were a joke, in the face of criticism and derision.
However, there clearly is a lot of verified, credible scientific evidence that bacteria and viruses ARE real. Moreover, health and safety laws mean that UK organisations have to protect employees, customers and clients against them. One bacterium which poses severe safety risks is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
MRSA is a superbug with far from superb consequences
MRSA is often called a ‘superbug’. It's tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus (‘staph’) because it's resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. What’s more, MRSA can survive on some surfaces, like towels, razors, furniture, and athletic equipment for hours, days, or even weeks. It can spread to people who touch a contaminated surface, and MRSA can cause infections if it gets into a cut, scrape, or open wound. That’s why it’s a particular problem in healthcare settings, especially for patients who have had surgery. Indeed, it can develop into a very severe, life-threatening infection.
But MRSA skin infections can occur in any work setting. There are 5 C’s which increase the likelihood of the infection spreading:
Contact, frequent skin-to-skin contact
Compromised skin (cut, scrape, or rash)
Contaminated items and surfaces
Cleanliness or lack thereof
Workplaces where these 5 C’s are common include schools and daycare facilities, dormitories, military barracks, and correctional facilities. People who work with farm animals or pets may also be at risk of MRSA infections from animals.
Good health and safety practice limits MRSA risk
Facilities managers will already be familiar with the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE). It doesn’t publish specific guidance for businesses and landlords on the subject of MRSA. However, general health and safety advice about cleaning and infection control is available on their website. (Read the advice here>).
It is safe to work with someone who has a staph or MRSA infection as long as their wound is kept clean, dry, and covered. Employers and supervisors can take a number of steps to prevent the spread of staph or MRSA in the workplace:
Show employees you care about worker safety and health protection in the workplace by promoting a culture of safety (including advice around covering wounds).
Ensure the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid supplies.
Encourage workers to practice good hand hygiene.
Ensure the performance of routine workplace housekeeping.
Ensure the availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies.
Ensure that surfaces contaminated with MRSA drainage or blood are cleaned and disinfected.
Cleaning and infection control protocols that focus on MRSA
It’s in these last three areas where React can come in to help. Our janitorial and deep cleaning services provide regular cleaning of common areas such as corridors and washrooms. But our Infection Control Service focuses more specifically on ensuring that all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. In healthcare settings, we pay particular attention to surgical areas such as operating theatres and post-operative care facilities. We use appropriately diluted products which are effective but safe, and follow strict infection control protocols to ensure complete disinfection. Our approach to limiting the spread of MRSA is simple: we aim to eliminate the bacteria from surfaces altogether.
Contact one of the team today to find out more about our Infection Control Service – and how we can limit your MRSA risks.
Telephone: 01283 550 503
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sectors.