Think You're Ready To Return To Normal? Sanitation Guide to Reopening
The latest pandemic has changed the world and running a business will never be the same as it was. As states announce their plans to reopen their economies, many business owners are excited and eager to reopen. But are they really ready to get back to business? As we slowly ease back into business, it’s important, now more than ever, for business owners to take the proper steps to mitigate the spread of the virus within their facility to protect the health and safety of their customers, clients, and employees. As we ease back into business, let’s take stock and develop a plan to prepare your facility for reopening with a focus on cleaning and disinfection that minimizes the risk of reignition of the virus.
"BECAUSE YOUR ENVIRONMENT MATTERS"
Identify your building touch points and high traffic areas.
It is clear now how rapidly this virus can spread. Viruses can easily spread from contact with infected surfaces. For example, a person can get a virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is why it is critical to identify the common touch points and objects (i.e. high tough points and surfaces) throughout your facility. Common touch points include doorknobs, light switches, telephones, photocopying machines, stair handles, biometric machines, faucets, and sinks. These points require frequent disinfecting to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Identify your non-porous surfaces (especially the smooth ones) within those high traffic areas.
Dr. Vincent Munster of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other researchers conducted a study to determine how long the virus remains infectious in the air and on surfaces. In this NIH article, that discuss the results of the study, we have learned that the exposure of the virus depends on the surface and may vary depending on the conditions within the facility. The study shows that the virus remains infectious for up 72 hours or 3 days on non-porous surfaces (i.e. steele, plastic, etc.), and up to 24 hours on porous surfaces (i.e. paper, wood, cardboard, etc.). Given this information you should also identify your porous and non-porous surfaces and touch points, as that will provide a better indication on how often each area should be cleaned and disinfected within your facility.
Create cleaning frequencies to prepare your facility.
At this point, you should have identified high traffic areas, common touch points, and surface types in those areas that need to be cleaned and disinfected. Now it’s time to create your cleaning schedule to prepare your facility for reopening. This schedule should include the frequency by area and surface type. Some areas may only require cleaning and disinfection once a day, but there are areas that will require more than that, perhaps even two or three times per day depending on traffic and surface type in that area. The cleaning frequencies will ultimately depend on the building type, traffic, soil levels, and surface types.
Create a treatment map.
A printed map, a drawing or blueprint of the office, floor or facility, is a good idea to ensure that all areas are cleaned based on the frequencies prescribed.
Label that map with the cleaning routes to enhance efficiency and to ensure proper coverage. Color code your map to identify high traffic areas and touch points.
Identify the resources and equipment needed.
Whether you have hired a professional commercial cleaning company, or have an internal cleaning staff, having the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), supplies, cleaners, and disinfectants are critical to prepare your facility for reopening.
Identify appropriate PPE. Disposable gloves and eye protection are a must when handling disinfectants.
Face masks may be appropriate in areas where social distancing is not possible [this could be mandated in some areas]. We recommend wearing one wherever social distancing in not possible. For more information on when, how, and some reminders on wearing a facial mask, you can refer to this article.
Use an EPA-approved disinfectant chemical against the virus. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed approved products that should be used against viruses. Depending on the kind of surface, the most appropriate disinfectant can be verified from this list. Be sure to note the required dwell time of the disinfectant. Dwell time is the amount of time that a sanitizer or disinfectant must be in contact with the surface, and remain wet, in order to achieve the product’s advertised kill rate.
Use appropriate detergent cleaner. Disinfection is a process that begins with a clean surface. Clean surfaces and touch points with a detergent or soap/water before disinfection.
Use microfiber cleaning cloths. This type of cloth is preferable in cleaning since fibers absorb more dirt, grease, and bacteria compared to other cloth; nevertheless, it must be changed often. When using cleaning cloths, it is advisable to have a color-coded system to differentiate between high and low-risk areas to avoid cross-contamination.
Proper training for your cleaning staff.
Develop a training plan to ensure that the cleaning staff has received training in the proper use of the disinfectants, detergents, PPE, safety, work practice controls, and cross-contamination prevention. Work practice controls can include how often to wash hands and change disposable gloves, how to handle chemicals, and proper use of microfiber towels. It is critically important that the cleaning staff understand how to read and understand a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). The SDS contains information that will help you make sure that the product is used safely.
If you already have a professional commercial cleaning contractor providing routine janitorial services, now is the time to sit down with them and review the scope of work, as changes may be required to ensure that your facility is properly cleaned and disinfected in this new environment. At Progressive Cleaning, our job is to be a resource to our clients in the cleaning industry. If you require assistance preparing your facility for reopening after an outbreak, fell free to contact us.
As the economy reopens, we all need to do our part to mitigate the spread of the virus by creating a safe environment for customers, clients, and employees. As you prepare your facility for a safe reopening, the items identified in this blog are things you should be considering. If we all do our part, we can contribute towards keeping infection cases low, because failure could force us back into isolation.