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Survey: Clean workplace restrooms valued by employees

BY Roy Maurer

The results of a new national survey revealed that the majority of U.S. workers believe that the state and cleanliness of their workplace restrooms is one indicator of how a company values its employees.

The Healthy Hand Washing Survey 2012, conducted by Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial hand washing products, showed that 83% of Americans believe the condition of restrooms in the workplace indicates to employees just how much their company values them. The survey also found that 66% of employees rate their workplace restroom as excellent or very good.

However, approximately one-third (34%) reported they’ve experienced toilets that were clogged or not flushed, bad smells, and toilet paper or towel dispensers that are empty or jammed.

Survey respondents equated unclean restrooms at other businesses with poor management, and nearly one-third (31%) said they would never frequent the business again.

Hand washing needs to improve

A majority of Americans are not washing their hands long enough, according to the survey. Fifty-seven percent of respondents estimated that they wash their hands for just five to 15 seconds, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing for at least 20 seconds to allow enough time to remove germs.

The survey also found that most Americans (75%) don’t adjust their hand washing habits during flu season.

Employees score well on hand washing in the workplace, however. Only 11% of survey participants said they frequently see people leave the bathroom at work without washing their hands, compared to the national results, where 30% of Americans claimed to frequently see people skip hand washing at public restrooms.

Top reasons for not washing hands

The top three reasons given for not washing hands were:

• Used hand sanitizer instead.

• No soap in restroom.

• No paper towels in restroom.

According to the CDC, while hand sanitizer can be beneficial, washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs.

Sixty-two percent of respondents admitted they have simply rinsed their hands with water after using a public restroom, which is an increase since 2011 when 54% admitted to the soap-free rinse.

Bradley has conducted its survey for the past several years, but this is the first time the company has looked into the workplace. The survey queried 1,046 U.S. adults Aug. 1 to 3, 2012, about their hand washing habits. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older, and were evenly split between men (49%) and women (51%).

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, at ToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

 

 

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Outlook for the home improvement products market

BY Ken Clark

The September 2012 IHS Global Insight/HIRI Home Improvement Products Market Forecast for total home improvement product sales for 2012 is little changed — pointing to an increase of  4.9% to $274 billion, compared with the March 2012 forecast of 5.0% growth to $283 billion. 

Consumer Market sales are expected to increase by 5.3% and Professional Market sales by 3.9%, according to the data. 

As employment growth accelerates and housing markets improve in 2014, IHS/HIRI expects stronger growth of home improvement sales averaging 5.9% in 2014-2015 with a slight deceleration in the following two years as the housing market cycle runs its course.

The national economic situation will certainly have a say in the matter.

Most recent economic reports point to continued growth, albeit at a modest pace. The IHS/HIRI forecast of 2.1% growth of real GDP this year is unchanged from the March 2012 report on the home improvement products market. 

Uncertainty over the deepening recession in the Eurozone will weigh on the U.S. economy. So will uncertainty over federal spending and tax imbalances, according to the forecast, which now expects GDP growth in 2013 of 1.8%, down 0.5% from the March forecast. 

On the other hand is housing: “Some of the most upbeat news is coming from housing, with prices now beginning to turn up, and home sales and housing starts trending higher,” according to the IHS/HIRI news release. “We expect existing-home sales to increase 6.2% this year and 8.1% in 2013. Housing starts are trending higher than we expected, but we do not expect a sharp acceleration next year from the 24% increase projected this year.” 

The forecast anticipates slower growth of the home improvement products market in 2013 and shows a 4.0% increase to $284.8 billion — revised downward slightly compared with the March report. Professional Market sales growth will slightly outpace Consumer Market growth, since the former will benefit more from steadily improving housing market activity.

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), headquartered in Tampa, Fla., is an independent, not-for-profit organization comprised of about 80 manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and allied organizations in the home improvement industry. The goup’s 2012 fall conference in Chicago, to be held Oct. 17, is called Retailing in Home Improvement: 2013 and Beyond.”

For information, visit hiri.org.

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

 

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Sept. 21, 2012

*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.

Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.    

Lumber: In both eastern and western Canada, SPF producers were forced to lower quotes to remain somewhere near market levels. Producers in the East seemed more aggressive, while producers in the West lowered quotes more modestly and then accepted counters in some instances. Weak pricing persisted in the Southern Pine lumber market. Buyers matched purchases with sales volumes in an effort to lower inventory costs. Treaters remained less active, many trying to draw inventories down prior to their year end. Coastal species lumber producers entered the market more aggressively, seeking to move off larger volumes of stock. Mills were able to sell enough volumes to establish price floors and even raise quotes on a few items, depending on the producer. The market for Inland species lumber remained weak. As stock on the ground was cleaned up, producers were less likely to entertain counters, choosing instead to sit the market out for the time being. Eastern White Pine order files improved and mills were out close to 2 weeks on shipments. Sales activity for ESLP boards was unchanged. Producers reported the market was steady and firm. A slight improvement in the Ponderosa Pine board market gave producers a glimmer of hope. Sales of #2, particularly 1×6, were reportedly more active, and producers were able to bump prices higher. Producers are able to sell Ponderosa Pine 5/4 and 6/4 Mldg&Btr at quoted levels, but #2 Shop remained a struggle to move. Announced reductions in availability during the next few months helped keep Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr prices firm and unchanged from last week’s levels. Western Red Cedar buyers plugged inventory holes with an eye toward the upcoming winter months, but struggled at times to find the right mix. Mill order files stretched from the first week of October out into mid October.

Panels: The overall tone in OSB markets was one of light sales and vulnerable prices. Depending on the region, discounts ranged from $5-20. The determining factor often was mill order files. Sales activity in the Southern Pine plywood market for rated sheathing was slow, eroding mill order files and pushing prices lower. Buyers perceived an opportunity for deals the week of 9/24. Mill lead times were in the week of October 1 or sooner. Western Fir plywood mills were willing to accept discounts of $20-25 for CDX items, but lower prices did not draw many more buyers into the market. Sanded panel and underlayment prices were firm. Several factors have placed downward influence on Canadian plywood markets. Sales were very light at major mills, as buyers turned to other producers who could ship sooner and discounted to get the business. Particleboard sales and prices remained flat. Brisk MDF sales continued to limit availability and influence very solid price levels.

For more on RISI, click here.

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