Operating your business in a COVID-19 world can be extremely stressful. We get bombarded by information from all directions and the information we get seems to change every day. So what can you do to keep you, your employees, and your clients safe? While there is never a 100% effective safeguard against viruses like COVID-19, there are many preventive measures you can take.
- Who will perform the cleaning
- Safety measures and PPE (personal protective equipment) needed
- Chemicals to be used along with proper application methods
- How often the cleaning will be performed on a regular basis
- Proper methods for disposing of materials and PPE used for cleaning
- Inspecting and verifying cleaning was done properly
When creating your plan, consider the high-touch points in your organization. This includes door knobs/handles, elevator buttons, cash registers/credit card readers, counter-tops, bathroom faucets, eating utensils, coffee machines, drink dispensers, and more. Really take the time to think about the areas and items in your organization that are frequently touched and handled.
It is extremely important to use CDC-approved chemicals and to apply them correctly. Simply spraying a chemical onto a surface and wiping it immediately is not sufficient. Chemicals have a specific “dwell time” between 1-10 minutes and it is crucial that you follow the directions on the particular chemical you are applying in order effectively clean your surface. A list of approved chemicals and their respective dwell times can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19.
A simplified process for preventative cleaning would look like this:
- Don PPE (which means put on your masks, gloves, and any other protective gear)
- Remove dirt and debris (you cannot effectively clean a surface that is visibly dirty)
- Apply the EPA/CDC-approved chemical
- Follow the dwell time shown on your specific chemical (between 1-10 minutes)
- Wipe the surfaces and properly dispose of items used for cleaning
- Inspect to make sure you have properly cleaned all areas needed
- Remove your PPE and carefully dispose of it properly
Now we get into the situation no one wants – dealing with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. This is an entirely different beast. The process for handling a confirmed or suspected case would be as follows:
- Find the path of travel for the individual and prevent access if possible
- If working with an outside vendor, expect a “Hold Harmless Agreement” – this is a document you will sign stating that you understand there is no way to 100% guarantee your area is COVID-free. While cleaning is very effective, if someone who is infected walks into the area right after cleaning it will obviously be contaminated again. No reputable company should ever advertise that they can guarantee 100% disinfection – it is not possible.
- The cleaning process will be similar to the preventative cleaning process but will also included fogging and wall-washing
- Get documentation of the cleaning for your records
- There are third-party testing options available to determine if cleaning was effective, however, it is very expensive
Staying safe and healthy can seem overwhelming right now, but by following the steps outlined above, you can give you and your organization the best chance to operate comfortably and safely.