Monthly Archives: July 2014

How to Keep School Changing Rooms Clean and Tidy

School changing rooms have to put up with an awful lot of wear and tear. Kids pile in there before PE lessons in order to change into sports attire. They may also spend time in the changing rooms after lessons, chatting and socialising, all of which can make it a tough area to keep clean. If changing rooms are also equipped with a shower block, you then have the added problem of high humidity in the atmosphere to contend with. So how can you ensure changing rooms are kept clean and tidy?

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning is essential. A dirty changing room can lead to the spread of disease and infection. Any area where lots of people are in regular close proximity can very easily become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. The best way to keep on top of this is to have a stringent cleaning program in place. This should involve the wiping down of hard surfaces and vacuuming up of dust and dirt at least once per day. In the case of shower areas, regular cleaning is essential to prevent the build up of mould and mildew, both of which can be hazardous to the health. Further deep cleaning should also be carried out on a weekly and monthly basis.

Keep Areas in Good Decorative Order

Peeling, flaking paint in changing rooms looks nasty and is bad for the health of those who spend time in there. It also makes surfaces difficult to clean and therefore decorative surfaces must be kept in good order. Walls and other areas of high traffic should be repainted regularly, although it may be preferable to clad walls in low maintenance Proclad PVC panels instead of using paint.

Efficient Ventilation

Ventilation is very important, but if there are high levels of humidity, it is even more important. When there is insufficient ventilation, mould and mildew will soon become a problem. Wiping down surfaces with cleaning solutions should help to keep mould and mildew at bay, but it is also a good idea to ensure painted and tiled surfaces are kept in good order. An alternative is to use PVC cladding instead of tiles to ensure a seamless, waterproof and easy to clean surface instead.

Effective Storage

Changing rooms are the dumping ground for all kinds of stuff: sports kit, coats, random fitness equipment and a few odd socks. Leaving stuff lying around in changing rooms is not good for anyone’s health, not least because people are likely to trip up over stray shoes and footballs. A dirty PE kit is also a breeding ground for bacteria and it has a nasty tendency to smell. Changing rooms need lots of storage space: hooks for hanging clothing, benches and seating areas, and lockers for secure storage.

Changing rooms, like any other part of a school, needs careful planning. Health and safety is an important issue when you are dealing with members of the public. Legislation should be adhered to in order to prevent accidents occurring. But most importantly, changing rooms need to be kept clean and tidy, just like the rest of the school.

Kitchen Nightmares – How to Avoid Them

Commercial kitchens are usually very busy environments. Dozens of staff work side by side, preparing and cooking food over the course of a few intense hours. This, combined with a hot, moist atmosphere, can make it hard to keep everything as clean as it should be. So as you might expect, things can and do go wrong on the health and hygiene front. Here are the main causes of kitchen nightmares in restaurant, hotel and takeaway kitchens.

Dirt and Grime

A kitchen is the one environment where you cannot afford to let dirt and grime build up. Ideally a commercial kitchen needs to be thoroughly cleaned every day, preferably at the end of the day. Surfaces should be de-greased and disinfected, rubbish dispensed with in an appropriate manner, and all remaining food properly stored in a secure location. Dirty floors, grease splattered walls and several years’ worth of dust lying over everything is not the way a kitchen should look.

Rodents on the Prowl

Rats and mice in a kitchen are considered to be vermin under any circumstances. Both spread disease—bubonic plague anyone? When running a commercial kitchen, it is important that rodents are not allowed to have a party the moment everyone leaves the premises. Floors and work surfaces must be kept stringently clean and if vermin are suspected, pest control experts should be consulted immediately or customer health is at risk.

It’s a Bugs’ Life

Cockroaches are probably the most vilified creatures on the planet. Unfortunately they are also one of the most difficult bugs to kill. Indeed it is often said that in the event of a nuclear holocaust, cockroaches will probably be the only creatures left alive! Cockroaches running riot in a commercial kitchen is not good. Cockroaches look disgusting and spread disease, so if you spot one scuttling across the floor in your local takeaway, don’t bother ordering any food.

Food Poisoning Nightmares

Food poisoning is no joke and a nasty case of botulism could quite easily kill you if it isn’t treated in time. This is why outbreaks of food poisoning always make the headlines, especially if the outbreak is linked to a well-known restaurant chain or celebrity chef. Heston Blumenthal’s flagship restaurant, the Fat Duck, was hit by an outbreak of Novovirus, which was caused by contaminated shellfish. It was later reported that the problem could have been better contained if sick staff had stayed at home instead of returning to work too soon.

Environmental Health Inspections

If you are in the restaurant business, an environmental health inspection is probably your worst nightmare. However, as long as you are following health and hygiene procedures, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. And if your kitchen is filthy, full of vermin, and the food is stored incorrectly, it’s probably too late to do anything about it because you won’t be in business for much longer.

Don’t ignore kitchen hygiene. For best results, make sure surfaces are cleaned regularly and food is stored correctly. Proclad panels will help in this regard as they are easy to clean. This should help you to avoid any major kitchen nightmares.

How to Control Hygiene in Meat Production

Although a small percentage of the population don’t eat meat, the majority of people enjoy tucking into a steak or a sausage or two and the meat production industry is big business. From abattoirs to meat processing plants, there is a long journey from the cow shed to the supermarket shelf. Hygiene plays an important part in this journey and if correct hygiene procedures are not followed, diseases can enter the human food chain.

The Importance of Hygiene in Meat Production

Raw meat is full of dangerous pathogens, including E-coli, Salmonella and Listeria. Unless great care is taken, these pathogens can end up in processed meat that is destined to be consumed without any further cooking. If that happens, the end result can be deadly. Every year, people die as a result of infections such as E-coli, something that could easily be prevented if correct hygiene protocols had been followed during the meat production process.

HACCP Principles

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles (HACCP) provide a framework for identifying food safety hazards in a meat production environment. Hazards must be identified and then prevented or reduced to acceptable levels. Actions plans must be carried out and then checked regularly. Appropriate measures must then be taken if food safety is found to be at risk.

Clean Animals

Cattle, sheep, and any other animals destined for slaughter have to be presented in a clean state. Each animal is inspected before it is accepted by the plant operator and if it is dirty or otherwise contaminated, it won’t be admitted into the facility. The reason for this is simple. Research has shown that if an animal is slaughtered whilst in an unclean state, its carcase is far more likely to be contaminated, which in turn presents a risk to human health.

Red Meat Safety

Although slaughtering dirty animals is known to lead to the spread of disease, the danger doesn’t stop there. Even clean and healthy animals can have dangerous pathogens lurking in their digestive tracts. Contamination can be spread via dirty equipment, floors, animal pen walls and anywhere else the animal comes into contact with, before or after slaughter.

Slaughter House Safety

Animal housing should be well ventilated with plenty of clean bedding. This helps to prevent further faecal cross contamination between animals prior to slaughter, although animals are normally clipped to reduce this risk. Floors, walls, metal railings, and feed troughs all need to be kept clean and disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of disease. Proclad PVC panels are an excellent choice for this type of environment as they are easy to clean. Once the animal has been slaughtered, the carcasses need to be processed in a controlled environment to prevent the meat coming into contact with dirt, dust, mould spores and any other type of contamination.

The economic consequences of not adhering to strict hygiene protocols in the meat processing environment are serious. Outbreaks of food poisoning can lead to the processor being heavily fined if the outbreak is traced back to them. There is also an associated healthcare cost as well as the loss of productivity when people are struck down with illness. All of this can be avoided if hygiene rules are followed.

How to Prevent the Spread of Disease and Infection

Nobody likes being ill. It is miserable being bedridden, sick and unable to do anything apart from feel poorly. Unfortunately there is no way to avoid being ill at least some of the time, but if you are careful and look after yourself as well as your living environment, it is possible to avoid succumbing to viral infections and other nasty diseases.

Nice Clean Hands

A good way to prevent the spread of disease and infection is to wash hands regularly. Many bugs and viruses are passed from skin to skin contact. For example, a sick person sneezes into their hands and then touches a railing. Ten minutes later you touch the same railing and then rub your face. Germs from the sick person are passed to you, even though you have not actually come into contact with that person. So wash your hands and, even better, take antibacterial hand rub if you travel on public transport.

A Hygienic Kitchen

Keeping your kitchen clean and spotless is a good way to avoid food poisoning and other nasty infections found in meat and other foods. Undercooked meat, spoiled foods and food that hasn’t been cooked properly can easily make us ill. You also need to make sure you wash fresh fruit and vegetables, disinfect work surfaces regularly, and beware of cross contamination between raw and cooked foods. Antibacterial commercial grade Proclad panels are perfect for kitchen environments. Oh yes, and don’t forget to wash your hands before preparing food!

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet will go a long way towards protecting you from viral infections and illness. Include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in your daily diet as these contain essential vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system.

Take Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Try and do at least thirty minutes of vigorous exercise, three times per week, as this will help you fight off the bugs you come into contact with on a daily basis.

Practice Workplace Hygiene

Workplaces are full of germs: computer keyboards, electrical equipment and desks are teeming with bacteria and bugs, so it is not surprising that we are more likely to catch colds and viruses from work than anywhere else. And when you add the perils of working under an air conditioning vent for eight hours per day, it’s a wonder everyone isn’t permanently off sick!

Sick Person Alert

Unfortunately, this is part of the problem. People tend to drag their weary bodies into work even when they are not well. As a result, germs linger on and infections are spread from one person to another. This is a major problem in hospitals, despite that they usually have strict infection control measures in place to prevent the spread of disease. So if you are feeling ill or suffering the effects of a viral infection, do everyone a favour and stay at home until you are feeling much better.

Infection and disease is difficult to avoid unless you live in splendid isolation, but if you follow the tips above, you should limit your chances of developing a major illness.

Is Hygiene Important in a Bakery?

Practicing hygiene is very important, whether you are working in a commercial kitchen or preparing food at home. Washing hands and keeping work surfaces clean and disinfected could prevent you from falling ill with a stomach bug or worse, E-coli. Of course hygiene is just as important in a bakery. Food here is prepared from fresh ingredients, just as it is in a restaurant.

A bakery makes fresh baked goods, including bread, pastries, cakes and savoury snacks. Food is prepared and baked in ovens before being cooled and placed on display for customers to peruse and buy. Since baked goods could easily be on display for several hours at a time if business is slow, it is important that everything is done to ensure health and hygiene protocols have been followed to the letter.

Cleaning the Work Area

Work areas need to be kept clean at all times. Surfaces should be wiped down with hot, soapy water and disinfected with an appropriate cleaning solution. Work surfaces need to be smooth and free from cracks, crevices and anywhere else where dirt and grime can easily become trapped and allowed to fester. Stainless steel is a common material for work surfaces and food preparation areas, but Proclad commercial grade panels are a good alternative as they are easy to clean and very hygienic.

Hygienic Equipment

There is a lot of specialist equipment used in large bakeries, including machines for mixing dough, proofing cabinets for bread, and ovens for baking. Some items, in particular the proofing cabinets, are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other nasty micro organisms. These all need disinfecting to prevent the growth of bacteria. You also need to ensure that the areas where baked goods are left to cool prior to packaging are kept clean and hygienic.

Hygienic Employees

Working in a bakery involves handling food constantly. This means that basic food hygiene practices need to be followed at all times. Employees must wash their hands before, during and of course after all aspects of food preparation. Hand washing is also essential after breaks, toilet or otherwise. Hair should be covered up to avoid stands of hair falling into pastries and loaves. The same applies to jewellery: finding an earring inside a bread roll isn’t ideal, although customers probably won’t be complaining if they find a diamond ring inside a cupcake.

Pest Control

Availability of food is the main reason why pests such as rats and mice make their home inside a bakery. All pests love a free meal and mice and rats are no exception. If food is allowed to accumulate on the floor and in dark corners of the work space, it won’t be long before vermin think they are staying in a five star resort. To avoid vermin becoming a problem, keep the floor spotlessly clean and ensure there are no places where vermin can find their way in.

Implementing basic hygiene in a bakery will prevent customers from falling ill. This in turn will ensure that business continues to be profitable.

The Top 5 Killer Infectious Diseases

Despite advances in modern medicine, there are still plenty of nasty killer diseases out there. Some are exceedingly rare and unless you head into the jungle in some remote locale, you are unlikely to succumb to them. Others are less rare, but just as dangerous—influenza being a prime example. Thankfully most people will never be unlucky enough to catch a dose of Ebola or bubonic plague. But just in case these nasty diseases ever become a major concern in the wider population, there are lots of scientists slaving away over test tubes in laboratories in an effort to find out what makes these diseases tick.

Ebola and Hanta Virus

Haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Hanta virus are seriously nasty diseases. Thankfully outbreaks have (for now) been confined to remote locations in Africa. There is no cure for these diseases, although not everyone who becomes infected will die. The viruses are passed through direct contact with animal faeces or another infected human. Once the viral infection takes hold, the victim will bleed to death from the inside out.


Naegleria is a brain-eating amoeba, commonly found in bodies of warm water in the Deep South of the US. This nasty little creature finds its way in through the nose and once happily in situ it makes its way to the brain where it feasts on brain matter. Most people don’t last long once that happens since brains are key to our existence.


Most people have heard of rabies. In fact depending on whereabouts in the world you live, you may even have had it drilled into you to stay well away from animals that are foaming at the mouth and trying to attack for no good reason. Yes, in some places rabies is still a big killer, even though there is a vaccine to prevent and cure a rabies infection in humans and animals, both wild and domesticated. Unfortunately, once the infection has taken hold and madness has set in, it’s game over.


Once upon a time, antibiotics were lauded as the best thing ever and we all thought that nasty bacterial infections were a thing of the past. Sadly, thanks to overuse and misuse, there are now some strains of bacteria that are completely resistant to all known types of antibiotics, which is a bit worrying to say the least. MRSA is a well-known example, but there are others, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Worse still is the ability of MRSA to lead tonecrotozing faciitis’, a nasty flesh-eating side effect.

Mad Cow Disease

Mad Cow Disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, first hit the headlines in the mid-90s. The human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, entered the food chain as a result of barbaric farming practices whereby cows were fed food made from contaminated cattle remains. The infected cow was then slaughtered and turned into burgers. Or at least that is the simplistic version of events. Anyway, the end result was that a lot of people’s brain turned into Swiss cheese as a result of eating Mad Cow burgers.

This list is only the tip of the disease iceberg and there are plenty more nasty infections and parasites out there! This is why hygiene is so important in laboratory conditions—imagine the consequences if poor hygiene led to an outbreak of disease? So it’s not surprising that commercial grade Proclad panels are a popular choice for this type of working environment.

How to Keep Dogs Healthy in a Kennel Environment

A healthy dog is a happy dog, which is why it is important to keep dog kennels clean for the duration of the animal’s stay. If you fail to look after your animal correctly and don’t keep his kennel nice and clean, he will soon end up sick and miserable, which is not fair on him and costly for you should you have to take him to the vet for treatment. You also run the risk of becoming ill, too. However, this unhappy state of affairs can easily be avoided by maintaining kennel hygiene standards at all times.

Cleaning a Dog Kennel

Cleaning a kennel isn’t rocket science, but you do need to do it properly because if you miss any surfaces during the cleaning process, germs and bacteria will be left behind and re-contamination will occur. Kennels need to be cleaned out at least once per day—preferably more if at all possible.

  • Remove the animal and equipment– Always take the dog out of his kennel before you start cleaning it. Place him somewhere safe and then take out everything else, including food bowls, bedding and toys. Wash all bowls, bedding and toys and leave to dry.
  • Scoop out the poo – Remove all solid matter and clumps of dog hair and then hose everything down with hot water.
  • Disinfection – Prepare a solution of disinfectant (follow the instructions on the bottle to ensure the correct dilution). Disinfect all surfaces: floors, walls, bars and everything else. Once the entire kennel is covered in a solution of disinfectant, use a stiff brush to scrub every surface thoroughly. Be careful not to miss any small nooks and crannies, particularly door handles, latches and hinges. At this point you may need to leave the disinfectant to do its magic—read the instructions if you are not sure.
  • Rinse and dry – Using hot water, rinse off the disinfectant until no more remains (this is important because if any disinfectant is left behind it could irritate the dog’s skin and respiratory system). Once you have rinsed the kennel, remove as much of the excess water as possible and leave the kennel to air dry.
  • Put everything back in place – Now that you have cleaned the kennel, clean bedding, toys, food and water bowls, and of course the dog, can be put back inside.

Make Life Easier

Cleaning kennels is a lot easier when the kennel surfaces are smooth and free from cracks and other imperfections. Concrete floors are the norm, but there are other alternatives if you are concerned about hygiene. Proclad PVC panels can be used to clad concrete walls and other kennel surfaces. These are easily cleaned and resistant to dirt and bacteria.

Tips for Keeping a Kennel Clean

Place a dog’s bed, food and water bowl near the kennel door. Most dogs don’t like to foul the sleeping and eating area, so this will ensure he does most of his business at the back of the kennel. If you do the reverse, he is likely to paddle through the mess when he comes to greet you at the door so it won’t be much fun for you when he jumps up with mucky paws.

Five Reasons Why Poor Hygiene in Hospitals is a Killer

You might assume that a hospital is a safe place. After all, we go to hospital when we are sick and need urgent medical care. Unfortunately, a lot of hospitals are actually dangerous places to go and many people end up worse off than before they went in. For example, it is not unheard of to go into hospital for a routine operation and end up contracting a lethal bacterial infection whilst you are recovering from your surgical procedure, often as a result of poor hygiene. This is why hygiene is so important in a hospital—poor hygiene can quite literally be a killer!

1. Spread of Disease

The most obvious reason why poor hygiene is so dangerous in a hospital environment is that it can cause the spread of disease. People in hospitals are generally sick. Their immune systems may also be compromised and any exposure to bacterial and viral infections can make them sicker. Regular cleaning and hand washing regimes won’t prevent the spread of disease completely, but it will make a huge difference.

2. Post Operative Infections

Serious infections such as MRSA can be lethal under any circumstances, but when they attack a seriously ill person who is recovering from a major operation, the end result is often fatal. The person already has enough on their plate without having to fight a dangerous infection that is resistant to all types of antibiotics. Good hygiene practice has been proven to play an important role in these kinds of scenarios.

3. Ward Closures

Outbreaks of viral infections as a result of poor hygiene are often responsible for closing down entire wards as the hospital tries to control the spread of the illness. With fewer beds on offer, sick people may be turned away from their nearest hospital and end up being ferried to a hospital many miles away, and if that person is seriously ill, the extra transit time could spell the death of them.

4. Staff Shortages

Bed shortages are a big enough problem, but if there are a lot of people struck down with something as rampant as Novo virus it won’t only be the patients who are affected. Nursing staff are just as vulnerable to nasty bugs. Unfortunately, if there is a large number of staff off sick, nursing care will suffer and more patients will die as a result.

5. Financial Implications

Poor hygiene will lead to outbreaks of disease and an increased number of people who need to be kept in isolation units. Also, if members of staff are off sick, agency staff will be called in to cover their shifts. Each scenario will cost the hospital Trust money, which in these straitened times is no laughing matter.

Hygiene and Infection Control

The best way to prevent all of the above problems is to implement a thorough program of hospital hygiene and infection control measures. Surfaces need to be deep cleaned regularly to prevent a build up of dust and dirt, thus cutting down the incidence of cross-infection; Proclad panels can be an enormous help in this regard. Effective hand washing should also be encouraged for both staff and visitors.

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