Addressing Coronavirus with Your Facility Staff
As our daily news continues to bring us stories of the spread of Coronavirus/Covid 19, we started receiving inquiries early from some of our commercial clients asking if we have a response to this problem in the event of an outbreak. There have also been many questions around what their staff may do to help prevent the risk of a potential outbreak in the meantime. The short answer is yes, we can help should a problem arise and yes, there are preventative measures that can be taken.
We have been a part of the TOMI Service Network (TSN), which specializes in professional disinfection. All TSN members use a product called SteraMist as the first line of defense regarding pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and mold. SteraMist was developed in response to weaponized anthrax in 2001 by several national defense contractors at the request of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
As you navigate an action plan in the event of an outbreak within your facility maintenance team, keep in mind that Coronavirus/Covid 19 is an enveloped virus, which is relatively easy to deactivate. Choosing the right products for staff shouldn’t be an issue, using them correctly, that’s the hurdle most of you will face.
I put together a list of points that may be helpful to review with your staff.
- Use liquid soap instead of foaming soap in the bathrooms – Liquid soaps do a better job of cleaning your hands and are harder to rinse off, which means more time hand washing.
- Get a pulse of the staff to gauge their willingness to clean and disinfect affected areas – Some staff members will opt out of trauma or other infectious situations. An outbreak will require a quick response, and it will be important that your team responds timely to minimize disruption. Also, if they are not up for the challenge, you want to know sooner than later.
- Read the labels and MSD sheet – Common disinfection chemicals will have distinct characteristics, abilities, and drawbacks with their use. For example, Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach), once mixed with water, loses its effectiveness after 24 hours.
- Take note of active ingredients and dwell times which are vital to and disinfectant – These will vary with each product. For example, Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) are prevalent, but they typically will need a ten-minute dwell time to be effective.
- Don’t underestimate the value of cleaning – Cleaning doesn’t kill germs, but cleaning can remove bacteria and viruses and lowering their overall numbers which lowers the risk of spreading infection. Most importantly, disinfecting efforts are always more effective on clean surfaces.
- Disinfectants alone are not good cleaners – Ideally, the disinfecting should be performed after the cleaning. If you want to disinfect a surface, you will need the disinfectant chemical to come in contact with the surface. Note the dwell time for the product to be effective.
- Choosing a disinfectant – Look for products that don’t leave heavy odors or residual residues behind that can leach into the skin or that will irritate occupants.
- Don’t overuse disinfectant chemicals – An overly enthusiastic staff member applying disinfectants throughout your facility can create unwanted issues.
- Frequent change – Cleaning or disinfectant towels should be changed regularly, as an overused towel can spread the contamination even further.
- One and done – Make sure your staff doesn’t dunk their “used” towel into a bucket of water of disinfecting or cleaning solution, then wring it out to reuse it; this will contaminate the whole bucket of solution.
- Safe application – Make sure your staff members use the appropriate protective equipment when disinfecting large areas or extended applications. The applicator applying a disinfectant should have the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) for skin and respiratory protection.
- At the start of any viral outbreak at your facility, cleaning efforts should be increased – Cleaning should not be just limited to the regular evening activity. To minimize illness and lost production time, your staff should double or triple the cleaning effort with all high touch areas. The extra cleaning will increase the effectiveness of any disinfectant.
You may have an excellent staff that can handle most any situation, but that doesn’t mean every situation. Know your limits and theirs, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help when that time comes.
Please let us know if we can be of assistance or if you have any questions.