Essential services workplace? Nine cleaning steps to address the health and litigation risks
An antiviral cleaning specialist has released nine recommendations for businesses to reduce COVID-19 risks.
Lisa Macqueen, co-founder and director at Cleancorp, warns the health and litigation risks are too high for essential workplaces who fail to upgrade their cleaning practices to meet the new risk.
“We received more than 1000 additional inquiries for our COVID-19 antiviral cleaning services in March alone, so it is clear that the pandemic is weighing heavily on the minds of commercial business owners across Australia,” she says.
The worrying thing, according to Macqueen, is that many are unaware of the differences between a regular clean and an antiviral clean.
Here are Macqueen’s recommendations to reduce COVID-19 risks through antiviral cleaning:
- Substitute household-grade chemicals for antiviral, hospital grade disinfectants
“The quality of a household disinfectant, such as Pine O Cleen, is not adequate during a viral outbreak. Hospital grade disinfectants need to be standards certified and contain at least 70 percent ethanol or cationic, nonionic or amphoteric surfactants – compounds used in an array of cleaning products for their ability to lower the surface tension of water – to cut through the virus, while being environmentally friendly,” Macqueen says.
- Organisations should upgrade their regular clean to include all ‘shared touch points’
A regular clean follows the usual spray and wipe principles; a touch point clean goes further by disinfecting door handles, remote controls, kitchen taps, microwaves, fridges and coffee machines.
- Include cleaning of workers’ personal spaces
Organisations should include precautionary cleaning of personal spaces like pens, desks, chairs, armrests, laptops and even cars.
- A ‘pandemic clean’ is essential if the site has had a confirmed case of COVID-19
Ordinary cleans will never remove viruses from surfaces. Locations that have had a confirmed case should organise a clean of walls, ceilings, floors and carpets in the same clean. Hospital grade disinfectants should be left to cure for 10 to 30 minutes at room temperature to ensure they work before wiping away. Cleaners must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including full hazmat suits, face masks and gloves. All disposable cloths, sponges, wipes and PPE must then be placed in plastic bags and disposed of. Cleaning equipment must be washed with hospital grade disinfectants after each clean.
- Introduce ATP swab tests
An adenosine triphosphate (ATP) swab test of a coronavirus-affected area, like a desk or chair, tests that it’s thoroughly sanitised and the presence of bacteria is wholly eradicated. If a test reads above 10, then the whole site must be given another pandemic clean.
- Use heavy-duty equipment in pandemic cleans
In these cleans, Macqueen’s team uses chemical foggers, HVAC-filtered vacuum cleaners, sprayers and power-operated scrubbers. Before heavy-duty equipment is used on the surface, clean and disinfect them first as normal.
- Do not share cleaning materials between areas
Cleaners must follow processes to avoid cross-contamination. Colour code cloths, mops, buckets and wipes to ensure the same cleaning materials are not used between two different sites. Materials used to clean a bathroom must not be taken to a kitchen, for example, and so on.
- A COVID-19 clean should last longer than a regular clean
A COVID-19 clean should take around three times as long as a regular clean. When choosing your cleaners, ensure they have completed the Australian Government Department of Health Infection Control Training – COVID-19.
- ISO certification is essential
Cleaners that have been independently audited and certified by third-party specialists to an ISO Standard, such as ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard, ensure they understand and follow the highest of global standards.
Macqueen has worked with organisations to set up ‘outbreak plans’, which involve additional cleaning between shifts and allow high-traffic areas to be sanitised.
“Following regular processes with household-grade chemicals is no longer adequate today,” she says. “Organisations need to understand the importance of ensuring that the right equipment, deep-cleaning processes and higher grade chemical are used. The right clean should be a major contributor to containing the coronavirus.”