Keeping Infection at Bay After Lockdown
Health, Safety, Security & Environment, Workspace Management, United Kingdom, Coronavirus (COVID-19)
As businesses prepare to reopen when COVID-19 lockdown is lifted, Jamie Woodhall, Technical & Innovations Manager at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene, says implementing measures to keep facilities clean and employees safe is essential.
The UK, like the rest of the world, has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. The highly contagious coronavirus has spread to nearly every country, with more than two million people known to have been infected. As a result, governments across the globe have enforced social distancing measures and made people stay at home.
Amid unprecedented circumstances, it’s more important than ever that businesses – particularly those businesses starting to think about reopening once the lockdown is lifted.
Regular cleaning is essential
Workplaces can be prone to cross contamination with a large number of people, shared spaces and equipment. It is essential that businesses take action, particularly during a time where illness is rife, to ensure their workplaces don’t serve as a hotbed for viral infection.
Kitchen, dining areas and washrooms should be subject to vigilant daily and weekly cleaning routines. We advise that this standard cleaning is scheduled and tracked, ensuring that it takes place regularly and on time.
It might sound simple but encouraging proper handwashing, something we have heard constantly on the news in recent weeks, will also help to prevent the spread of germs. Our hands are a natural breeding ground for germs and one of the principal carriers of harmful pathogens – in fact, 80 per cent of infections are spread by hand. Ensuring your employees have access to the essential handwashing tools – warm water, soap, drying facilities and ideally, hand sanitiser – goes a long way. There should be ample supplies of these products in the washrooms, breakout and kitchen areas throughout the building, paired with handwashing reminders to encourage best practice.
On top of a regular cleaning regime, businesses should be booking a minimum of two deep cleans per year. This may need to increase depending on the nature of the business and its hours of operation, so we recommend that all businesses contact professional cleaning companies to create a bespoke service and frequency schedule that works for them. Professional deep cleaning is also especially important during a period of illness outbreak, preferably managed by a specialist cleaning company that is trained to tackle those hard-to-reach or rarely seen areas where potentially harmful micro-organisms might be hiding.
A deep clean should include a thorough disinfection of high frequency touch points, as well as moving all furniture or equipment away from the walls to make sure no areas are missed from the standard cleaning routine. One powerful tool in the deep cleaning arsenal is Ultra Low Volume (ULV) disinfection fogging. This involves specialist technicians using a fogger to generate a mist of disinfectant which settles on top of, underneath and on the sides of objects, enabling technicians to disinfect a large area in a short period of time.
With regard to the Coronavirus outbreak, businesses remaining open would be wise to review and update their cleaning regimes. They should also consider proactively preparing in case a deep clean is required, such as in the event they have a suspected or confirmed Coronavirus diagnosis onsite. This would require a contingency survey of the premises, typically offered by experts to gather key information in advance including a site-specific risk assessment, to enable a quick response in the event of Coronavirus being reported on the site at a later date.
If there are no confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus on a site, an all-purpose specialist disinfection may be appropriate to help protect against microbial infection, and to help maintain a high level of hygiene in a facility.
In addition to prevention, it’s also important that in the event of a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus on the premises, the business reacts quickly. According to government guidance, in most circumstances the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surface is likely to have significantly decreased after 72 hours. This is a key consideration to determine the type of specialist disinfection service that your premises will need.
For businesses with a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus on the premises and where the site needs to be up and running quickly, a service manager can implement stringently risk assessed infection control measures that go beyond the minimum World Health Organisation guidance.
First, they survey the site wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Then, guided by the site-specific risk assessment, method statement and safe operating procedures, Royal Society for Public Health qualified staff meticulously disinfect rooms and areas that pose a threat of causing cross contamination, using a high-level surface disinfectant on surfaces such as floors, walls, ceilings and any objects. ULV disinfection fogging may also be used when required, to allow for the treatment of large areas in a short space of time.
For businesses who can afford to wait 72 hours, specialist cleaning technicians can disinfect the premises. This includes disinfecting key touchpoints, such as door handles and kitchen surfaces, using a using high-level surface disinfectant to help minimise the risk of infection. ULV disinfection fogging will also be carried out, to help ensure that all necessary areas are disinfected.
Qualified technicians should be equipped with the necessary PPE, RPE and specialist disinfection equipment, to provide specialist cleaning and disinfection service options safely and effectively. With many businesses adapting to a "delivery model" or having essential fleet vehicles they need kept on the road, a Vehicle Disinfection Service such as ours, which provides a full disinfection of cars, vans and lorries to help safeguard employees and customers, would also be advisable.
All waste generated as part of the disinfection process needs to be segregated onsite and then disposed of in a safe and legally compliant manner, in line with guidance set out by Public Health England, to help eliminate cross-contamination.
When it comes to cleaning regimes, proactivity is essential to help prevent the spread of disease, particularly during an illness outbreak such as Coronavirus. While hand hygiene will help stem cross contamination, specialist deep cleans will offer that extra level of protection and businesses should consider booking one in.