By Jim Flieler, VP of Sales for Canada
Across North America, businesses are reopening after months of being shut down to keep COVID-19 at bay. Many of our customers have been coming to us with questions about how best to prepare their facilities for the new normal during and after this global pandemic. We are all learning on the fly as we get new information from health officials and scientists every day. But there’s one thing we do know for sure: Unlocking the doors and turning on the lights, going back to the way you used to operate your facility is no longer acceptable or safe enough.
We’d like to offer this post-coronavirus protection strategy to help guide you as you begin to open up. Our guidelines pertain to the following four categories: Product selection, cleaning and disinfection processes, accredited recognition and community awareness.
In addition to these guidelines, you may find detailed information from Health Canada and the U.S. CDC that includes protocol that pertains to each business and facility type. They have extensive documentation to help guide re-opening.
Every facility and every business—no matter how big or small—will need to have a disinfectant or sanitizer that has a registered DIN (Canada) or EPA (US) number in its arsenal. These registration numbers show that the product is effective against killing the viruses and microorganisms it claims to kill when the proper process is followed. In addition to finding the right product, it will be critical to revisit instructions for dilution. Dilution can make or break the effectiveness of a disinfectant. This means considering new dispensing systems and testing PPM (parts per million) constantly. Of course, hand washing continues to be our greatest defense against the spread of COVID-19. Assess your facility’s handwashing stations and make it as easy as possible for your customers and employees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer to ensure reduced concerns.
Cleaning and Disinfection Processes
Cleaning and disinfection processes must be re-visited in the age of COVID-19. This includes dilution, pre-cleaning, dwell time and using a potable water rinse. Because public perception is more important now than ever, we would like to add one additional step to the disinfection process: the quality assurance checklist.
Product dilution: Ensuring the correct dilution is achieved is paramount. Your goal is to achieve the required PPM (parts per million) to ensure that the product will kill each of the stated pathogens indicated on the label. Always follow the exact label directions for the best results. It is also critical to constantly check your PPM during your cleaning protocol throughout the day. Changing your solution, refilling spray bottles and charge buckets is an assured way to achieve this. We suggest supplying your custodial team with the proper litmus paper so they may consult these tests and validate/ document the readings.
Pre-cleaning: A disinfectant will not be effective against pathogens, including COVID-19, if you do not clean your surfaces first. Soil and dust will disrupt the disinfectant’s ability to target and kill pathogens and viruses. It is essential to remove those contaminants with a common cleaner before applying your disinfectant.
Dwell time: Every disinfectant or sanitizer will have a dwell time listed on its label and MSDS. This is the time that the product will need to be left wet on the surface to achieve its kill claims.
Rinse: One of the most commonly overlooked steps in the disinfection process is the rinse for food contact surfaces or in the case of children’s toys or in food service/ processing facilities. After you have pre-cleaned your surface and then allowed your disinfectant to remain for the proper dwell time, you will want to use a potable water rinse on your food contact surface.
Quality assurance: A quality assurance checklist that is visible to all of your customers and employees will show when each surface and area has been disinfected. This documentation is more important now than ever before, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
We want you to be able to advertise what your facility has done for public safety because you will want to show your customers your facility is safe and make them feel comfortable coming back. We can help you make certificates to display in your business to show that you are following the right protocol. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) guidelines pertain here. Start telling people you are following these guidelines if you are. In addition, the Charlotte Online Learning Program subscription includes courses on COVID-19, infectious diseases and hundreds of other online training seminars.
Now available to purchase as a separate course is the GBAC Fundamentals Online Course offered as a Certified Course from ISSA. Participants will learn infection and contamination control measures for infectious disease outbreak situations such as novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Specifically how to prepare, respond and recover from biohazards in the workplace. Individuals who successfully complete the course within 30 days will receive a Certificate of Completion from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA. (I personally completed this online course this May and found it very beneficial to assist most anyone of any skill set in our industry to consider. It will give you a better understanding on how to improve or avoid outbreaks within a facility.)
You will want to teach everyone in your community about the important public health steps you are taking to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the public. This is a way to ease your employee and customer anxieties and build loyalty, but it is also a way to lead by example in your community and even further protect public health. Social media is the best way to quickly and effectively achieve this goal. The public needs to know what you are doing to protect their health. You have a free, ongoing assurance program available through your business or facility social media outlets. Make sure to provide continuous updates on cleaning standards to ensure the facility remains a safe, healthy space.
If there is a silver lining in all of this, it is that public health is top of mind for everyone these days, not just those of us in the cleaning industry. Governments are recognizing the need for cleaning standards and increasing the focus on cleaning protocol in buildings and the public is more aware than ever before about the importance of clean, healthy environments. It’s time to rise to the challenge.
These guidelines were originally shared in our weekly webinar series on COVID-19. We understand that the nature of this virus and the global pandemic is changing very quickly, so we have committed to provide a weekly information session, followed by Q+A every Friday at 1 pm. Register for our next webinar, or access recordings of past webinars.