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Germ Busters: Award-winning team ensures clean, healthy workplace with innovative system

ORAU Custodian Shannon Prater using an innovative electrostatic spraying system to sanitize and disinfect ORAU facilities
ORAU Custodian Shannon Prater using an innovative electrostatic spraying system to disinfect buildings at ORAU.

ORAU’s custodial team members work as germ busters year-round. They sanitize and disinfect offices, workstations, conference rooms and common areas.

They’ve recently upped their game as flu season intensifies. ORAU Custodian Shannon Prater (pictured here) straps on a backpack equipped with an electrostatic spraying system and sets off to disinfect buildings. The spraying system uses nontoxic chemicals registered as hospital disinfectant.

“I think it is a pretty amazing system,” said James Barry, ORAU custodial manager. “It is easy to use, and we can sanitize areas more thoroughly.” In addition to sanitizing and disinfecting, the product also kills mold and mildew, eliminates allergens and minimizes odors. It is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

After Prater disinfects an area, fellow custodians sweep through to clean surfaces he cannot reach. “It is a team effort,” said Barry. The custodial team received an ORAU Game Ball Award this year at an all-employee Town Hall meeting for utilizing innovative approaches to maintaining a clean, healthy environment for employees.

The new technology allows for ORAU-owned and -managed facilities to be sanitized more frequently with the same amount of labor hours. “We are able to cover wide areas in about one fourth of the time it normally takes to sanitize an area,” said Barry. The disinfecting work with the backpack sprayer is performed after business hours to avoid disruptions in employee work. Also, during flu season, the team disinfects with greater frequency the high-touch areas like handrails, door handles and elevator buttons. These measures provide additional cost avoidance because they help decrease employee illness.

“The custodial team members demonstrate a high level of caring and pride in performing their job duties. They go to great lengths to keep the facilities clean for all,” said Wade Williamson, occupational health nurse, HR. “In many ways, they play a large role in keeping ORAU employees healthy as well as providing a welcoming place to work.”