June 5, 2023
COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines for Commercial Facilities
COVID-19 is still present in our lives and affecting us at work. The virus puts staff and visitors’ health at risk and causes absences, affecting business and productivity for facilities.
There are guidelines set out by the UK government with measures for cleaning and disinfection that organisations, employers and workforce managers can implement to protect staff from COVID-19 and other viruses.
This blog will outline how facilities can reduce the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and flu, which is particularly important if there are people on the workforce who are at higher risk.
The COVID-19 Virus and How it Spreads
The COVID-19 virus spreads via small droplets, aerosols, and direct contact.
Although it is no longer a legal obligation, infected persons are advised to isolate for at least 7 days. Unless working from home is an option for staff, this can greatly affect productivity for businesses.
Fortunately there are things facilities can do to prevent the virus spreading and absences occurring.
According to the UK government,
To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and keep productivity up in the workplace, follow these steps to help protect your staff.
When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, respiratory particles containing the virus are released into the air. These particles containing the virus can be inhaled at short range, or come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
As these aerosols can remain suspended in the air, risk of infection is increased where there is poor ventilation.
Simply opening windows and introducing fresh air in the workplace will reduce the concentration of respiratory particles, lowering the risk of infection.
For workspaces where there may not be windows or the option to open them, an air filtration unit with a HEPA filter can be implemented to maintain good indoor air quality.
For further information, see this guide on how to assess and improve ventilation in your facility: https://www.hse.gov.uk/ventilation/
Frequently throughout the day, we subconsciously touch our eyes, nose, and mouth where germs can enter and make us ill. This makes it easy for the virus to transmit from person to person.
Proper hand hygiene is the simplest way of preventing infection from spreading. This is because germs are commonly spread from our hands. When we wash our hands with soap and water, we remove bacteria, preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,
Ensuring easy access to hand washing facilities and sanitising stations is essential. It is also good practise to place up posters, particularly in washrooms, to encourage and remind staff to regularly wash their hands.
As we have already discovered, particles containing the virus produced when an infected person breathes, speaks, cough or sneezes, can spread through the air; but they can also land on surfaces.
These particles can remain on surfaces for up to 48 hours. If someone touches the surface, they can easily transfer it to their eyes, nose, or mouth when they touch their face and contract the virus.
Regularly cleaning throughout the day removes particles from surfaces, significantly reducing the risk of infection spreading amongst staff.
Cleaning should be carried out at least twice a day in communal areas, or where hot desking is in place. Depending on the number of people using the space, once at the start and end of the day.
Make sure to focus on areas that are frequently touched. These include light switches, door handles, elevator buttons, phones, work surfaces, electronic devices, etc. If you have items that cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, such as upholstered furniture, steam cleaning should be carried out.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times. To remain safe, avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning, and don’t mix cleaning products together as this can create toxic fumes.
If cleaning surfaces where someone who is infected has come into contact, wear the appropriate PPE equipment including disposable gloves and an apron. it is best to use paper rolls, disposable cloths, and disposable mop heads. Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags. Once cleaning has been completed, wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
To Wrap Up
By following these steps, you can prevent viruses from spreading in your facility.
Ensuring that there is good ventilation, adequate hand washing facilities, and regular cleaning of surfaces and touch points, reduces the risk of infection.
Because a clean facility means a safe environment where people and businesses can thrive.