With more businesses reopening offices and employees slowly transitioning to the workplace, implementing a deep cleaning and disinfection regime is ever more important.
“Disinfection is only effective if the surface is thoroughly cleaned beforehand” - NHS
The difference between cleaning, sanitisation and disinfection
Cleaning - the removal of soiling (whether visible or not) from a surface
Sanitisation - the reduction of bacteria, germs and viruses
Disinfection - the removal of bacteria, germs and viruses
Maintaining a safe and clean environment for employees is top priority, therefore, implementing appropriate deep cleaning processes and documenting these is paramount.
Failure to do so will lead to an increased risk of COVID spreading as it can be transmitted in two ways:
Though breath droplets - therefore, you need to ensure the correct PPE is supplied for employees and visitors
Transmission from surfaces - therefore, implementing a deep clean and disinfection regime is fundamental to regularly clean areas that have been used
“Understanding the definitions of what you’re trying to achieve is really important. So what is cleaning, what is sanitisation and what is disinfection”. Christian Harris Slip Safety
Meeting the Government's regulations
First and Foremost, the initial step is to ensure that the cleaning and disinfectant products used are in line with the British Standard and approved as the Government’s appointed entity. In this case the Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
By law only approved disinfectants by Defra should be used. A list of notifiable diseases and which disinfectants to use can be found on their website.
Identifying the correct disinfectants, cleaning cycles as well as how the cleaning should be undertaken is the trio to a successful disinfection of the workspace post COVID19.
The successful trio:
Correct disinfectant products to use
Identifying the frequency of cleaning regimes
Implementing efficient cleaning procedures
What to consider when implementing a cleaning regime
Selecting cleaning or disinfectant products is more than the labelling on the available product, especially if they are to be used for workplaces where multiple people are using different workspaces.
Hospital grade disinfectant products would be most adequate when faced with COVID19. However, given the current situation, those might be out of reach for businesses that aren’t in the medical sphere.
1. When selecting a cleaning provider or product
Be wary of claims made
Check they have the right credentials
Check they have the right qualifications
Currently there are no tested disinfectant products that will remove COVID19 100%, more testing is yet to be done, so be wary of claims made.
Ensuring the cleaning provider uses the right quality cleaning products will help reduce any cross contamination and offer an infection free workspace for returning employees. Be sure to check what surfaces you want to clean, sanitise and disinfect as this will play a part in your selection criteria.
In addition, you want to ensure that there won’t be any unwanted illnesses or diseases that can arise from the inhalation, ingurgitation and or skin contact with the cleaning or disinfectant products. Some products could bring about long term and/or permanent health effects especially when mixed with other chemicals, so it’s important to check this with your cleaning provider.
2. Two methods of applying disinfectants
It’s important to know that there are two methods of applying disinfectants and sanitisation, these are:
Fogging - atomising a chemical to apply as a mist directionally
Electrostatic spraying - applying an electro charge to a liquid in order to get it to fully cover a surface
Disinfectant wipes should be provided for individuals to wipe down workstations or assets instead of sprays. UV light is another form of disinfection but is largely dependent on the surface type and requires a room or workspace to be completely empty.
Whichever option you decide to apply should be appropriate for the type of work setting or asset that needs to be deep cleaned and disinfected. The main facets to keep in mind are:
Frequency of usage: High vs. low touch areas such as door handles, stairways or lifts as opposed to server rooms or storage areas
Number of people the surface comes in contact with: Water station vs. fax machine
The frequency of deep cleaning and disinfection should be included as part of your decision making to meet the Government's guidelines. Some organisations deep clean once daily after work hours whilst others clean several times daily especially in high touch areas.
If you have in house cleaning teams, be sure they receive adequate training. The training should include the clear understanding of the successful trio above as well as the cleaning route which should generally be from inside to the outside of the workspace. Other elements include, but are not limited to:
The usage of cleaning cloth and towels (folding and reuse of one side for multiple surfaces)
The amount of time the cleaning product is left on a surface before it is wiped down(if appropriate)
Implementing cleaning procedures
Once the right products are selected inline with Defra and you’ve determined the frequency of cleaning cycles, the next step is to ensure cleaning procedures are implemented all the while ensuring the safety of the cleaning crew as well as returning employees.
Develop cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
Help people to work from home when returning to work is not business crucial
Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk
“The less clean a surface is, the more contamination and soiling there will be on the surface, the greater the chance of things attaching to it”Christian Harris Slip Safety
1. Documenting cleaning procedures should include:
The key areas where disinfecting is required and the frequency
The types of products used and where
What measures to take on certain surfaces (clear separation of eating area and workspace)
The amount of hours each workspace or asset needs to be empty before and after cleaning (specifically in workplaces where employees have badge access and can enter and leave at their leisure).
Cleaning protocols should clearly state how employees using the office are expected to participate in cleaning their workspace or asset used. Reducing an outbreak of COVID19 is everyone’s responsibility so it’s a team effort to make sure cleaning is done. The recommended approach for cleaning offices should include:
Enforce a clean desk policy - this makes it easier to sanitise quickly
Individuals should be expected to clean own keyboard, telephones and any equipment they use
Provide disinfectant wipes instead of sprays to make it convenient for individuals to wipe down workstations
Integrate more cleaning during the day
Deep cleaning and disinfection should be done out of office hours
Provide hand sanitisation for employees and other PPE
2. Cleanliness test
There are 3 key pillars that can be used to know if a surface is cleaned and disinfected. Christian Harris of SlipSafety joined us a recent webinar and shared his 3D cleanliness test that includes:
Once you’ve selected your cleaning provider or products and determined how you plan to maintain deep cleaning regimes, make sure to document the procedures and communicate them to employees who are returning to the workplace post COVID19. Or at least make sure procedures are accessible and visible.
It’s important to make sure new cleaning procedures are communicated to your workforce, especially for those returning to the office. It’s a team effort to ensure cleaning standards are maintained so it’s important they are aware of what is expected of them.
In addition, you’ll be giving them peace of mind that they are returning to a safe and healthy environment to work in.
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