The COVID-19 (coronavirus) is now in a critical phase where public health systems here in North America are wondering what they can do and how they can decisively act to contain the spread of the infection. We don’t know, as of this writing, what impact it will have here. In China, the number of cases being reported has dropped considerably. However, in one day, 505 cases were recently reported in South Korea.
So, what steps should cleaning contractors take now to help protect the health of their custodial workers and, in so doing, the health of the people in the facilities they clean.
Among them are the following:
Stay informed. In the early stages of a health crisis, misinformation can happen. Select information sources based not on their political views but their credibility. Further, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. They are monitoring the situation daily.
Handwashing. Frequent and thorough hand washing is our best defense.
Cleaning workers should wash hands before starting work, so no pathogens are brought into the facility, and again upon leaving.
Glove Removal. Wearing gloves while working is more critical now than ever before. Also is knowing how to remove gloves. If not performed correctly, pathogens on the gloves will be transferred to your hands.
Pull from one corner, folding the glove over the hand and then tossing in the trash.
Wear Personal Protective Gear. Depending on the type of facility being cleaned, it may be necessary to wear more than gloves when cleaning. Gowns protect your clothes when working, helping to prevent any pathogens from collecting on them. Cleaning workers cleaning industrial facilities often wear face shields or goggles. In some cases and when cleaning some types of facilities, for instance, schools, wearing these may be necessary.
High-Touch Inspections. With your client, conduct a high-touch inspection. The goal is to doublecheck that all high touch areas are being cleaned and disinfected. Invariably, it uncovers surfaces that are frequently touched that have been overlooked in the past. Also, conduct the tour with your client. You’re a team now more than ever before, working to protect the health of building users.
Cleaning Tools. What is most important now is that all cleaning tools used be kept clean. Mops should be laundered after each use as should cleaning cloths. Change mops/cleaning cloths frequently. In hospitals, they are often changed after cleaning each room.
Cleaning frequencies. Increased cleaning/disinfecting frequencies are necessary. COVID-19 is very similar to the flu in that germs become airborne and are then inhaled by someone else, or those pathogens land on surfaces that are touched by others. It will probably be necessary to not only to increase cleaning and disinfecting frequencies, but clean wider areas. For instance, instead of just cleaning a restroom countertop, clean the immediately surrounding walls as well. When using sanitizers or disinfectants, make sure surfaces are cleaned first and then disinfected a two-step process.
Ron Segura helps cleaning contractors grow. He has over 50 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.