What companies need to know about COVID19

As World Health Day approaches this April 7th, there’s only one health issue on everyone’s mind — the alarming and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus around the globe.

Right now, every essential organization that is operating, from governmental departments to health services to essential service companies, are focused on using the right products and cleaning techniques to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Commercial cleaning companies and janitorial services have been catapulted to the front lines of this battle against the virus, shouldering a monumental responsibility to help reduce the outbreak.

So if your organization is considered an essential service, and employees and/or customers are still physically occupying the workspace, what do you need to know?

According to the World Health Organization, the first step is to make sure everyone follows the basic recommendations:

  • Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based rub or soap and water
  • Practice social distancing by remaining at least 3-6 feet away from others
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands, as our hands can touch many surfaces that contain the virus
  • Practice respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a bent elbow or tissue (with the latter being disposed of immediately)

But what about surfaces and objects in the workplace that are used by multiple people? Here are the top custodial facts that organizations need to know about keeping spaces clean and safe:

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

There is a difference! While cleaning physically removes any visible foreign material (including dust, dirt, fluids, etc), cleaning alone doesn’t necessary kill any microorganisms such as viruses. However, spaces still need to be thoroughly cleaned in order for any equipment/surface to be disinfected, as organic matter may de-activate disinfectants.

On the other hand, disinfection is a process that specifically kills microorganisms on inanimate objects and surfaces. Cleaning and disinfecting agents may be combined into a single product to save a step in the sanitization process.

The Right Stuff

So what types of products should companies use? Health Canada currently lists over 130 different hard-surface disinfectants that are effective at preventing the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. What made the cut? Diversey’s Virox 5 RTU wipes and Oxivir Disinfectant Cleaner, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Lysol Disinfectant Spray, and Fantastik Disinfectant All Purpose Cleaner are all among the authorized products with approved anti-virus claims. It’s important to keep in mind that this doesn’t mean they’ll 100% kill COVID-19 and other viruses, but they’re the top performers in limiting the transfer of microorganisms.

Not All Hand Sanitizers Are Created Equal

We’ve heard it from every health authority around the world — wash your hands! And it’s no wonder — it’s the single most effective way (when coupled with social distancing) to stay safe from COVID-19. Most medical professionals recommend hand-washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water is unavailable.

But not every hand sanitizer has the same effectiveness. And although regional shortages of hand sanitizer have spurred many individuals to attempt to make their own unsafe or ineffective versions, Health Canada and the US Centers for Disease Control state that the only alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) that can help prevent illnesses are those containing alcohol levels of 60% or more. Purell is a familiar ABHR, containing a 70% alcohol formulation. But in order to meet the sharply growing global demand, companies like Aerochem and Walter have shifted production to release new 70% alcohol liquid hand cleaners.

It’s All About PROPER Hand Protection

We know wearing gloves is essential when it comes to proper sanitization, mostly to ensure that skin doesn’t come into contact with any cleaning products or harsh chemicals that may cause injuries. But the spread of coronavirus has made it vital to find hand protection that creates a safe barrier between the skin and pathogens.

Health authorities across the United States and Canada have advocated for the use of disposable gloves during cleaning and disinfection. Disposable options such as Ansell’s MICROFLEXÓ 93-850 and 93-243 gloves have been tested for protection against both chemicals and microorganisms, passing both European and North American safety standards. The catch? Disposable gloves only offer protection if they are worn and removed correctly — proper donning and doffing procedures are the key to ensure environments aren’t contaminated.

Sanitization is Key in the Fight Against COVID-19

Although there is still so much that needs to be learned about the novel coronavirus, it’s become clear that janitorial/custodial activities are essential in battling the spread. By being proactive, careful, and communicative, you’ll be better able to weather this crisis — all while keeping the public safe.