12 Mar COVID-19 and infection control: is your commercial cleaner protecting your workplace?
The recent eruption of novel coronavirus is headlining news across the globe. And as an employer, you want to keep your staff healthy, safe and productive. Even if the virus doesn’t reach your office – the outbreak is an important reminder to take stock of your workplace hygiene practices. So besides stock-piling toilet paper, what should your cleaners be doing to stop infection from spreading?
First things first: how are infections spread?
To prevent staff passing germs to one another, it’s important to understand how they spread. This will let you identify (and ditch!) unnecessary precautionary actions – like spritzing your meeting rooms with lemon juice or hanging garlic around the office.
In the case of coronavirus, germs leave their current host via coughing or sneezing. And to infect their new host, they’ll enter via the nose or mouth. This means the most likely way you’ll catch these germs is through:
- Breathing in airborne germs
- Eating contaminated food
- Touching something contaminated – such as surfaces, objects and bodily fluids – and ingesting the germs
Prevention is better than a cure
When it comes to infection control in the workplace, we can all agree that prevention is better than a cure.
That’s why keeping surfaces clean and germ-free is vital. Also encourage your staff to practise thorough handwashing. Together, these are your best lines of office defence.
But what can you do to ensure a clean environment? You can take your commercial cleaner to task about it!
It all starts with knowing what proper cleaning is all about
It’s essential that whoever’s cleaning your workplace is an expert. To determine this, do your research on how to find the right commercial cleaner.
Next, learn the specific terminology around workplace sterilisation – so that you can ensure the job’s being done right.
For starters, ‘cleaning’ means removing germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces and objects. It’s done by using water and soap or detergent.
‘Disinfecting’, on the other hand, doesn’t just remove. It kills.
Accordingly, cleaning should be used on low-risk surfaces like floors, windows and ceilings. But for high-touch surfaces like keyboards, door handles and railings? You need to pull out the big guns and thoroughly disinfect.
The nitty-gritty of workplace cleanliness
There are many ways to keep your workplace clean. Obvious approaches include spot cleaning where necessary, washing surfaces with hot water and detergent, and using disinfectants to clean visibly dirty areas.
But to properly fight the spread of infections, it’s important to approach the situation like a long-distance sprinter – you need go that extra mile.
For example, floors should be regularly washed. This means vacuuming using a Mega Gulper for soft surfaces, and mopping with disinfectant for hard surfaces.
You should also periodically wash the walls and ceilings. Yes that’s right, ceilings. Even if you don’t frequently have Lionel Ritchie dancing on it, your ceiling can accumulate mould and fine dirt – which can cause illness.
So, no matter how absurd it may seem, no surface should be overlooked.
And finally, be sure to clean and dry your equipment after every use! This includes mops, buckets, brushes and cloths. If your tools stay wet, pathogens will thrive in the moisture.
Rookie mistakes: cross-contamination
Cross-contamination is a really important part of infection control. The good news is, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid it.
Firstly, implementing a colour-coding system ensures that cleaning tools used in one area (such as the bathroom) are not also used in another (such as the kitchen). Much like you wouldn’t use your toothbrush as a foot-scrub, your cleaning tools need the same boundaries.
You should also be using a double cavity mop bucket. Buckets with only a single cavity mix the dirty and clean water, which spreads the germs that’ve already been collected. We recommend the Hero EZ-Lift Dual Cavity Commercial Mop Bucket.
We also suggest you opt for microfibre cloths. These are more effective than rags and other types of cloths due to their absorbency and positive charge. This means they’re better at picking up and holding dust, dirt and liquid.
And what about your staff?
As an employer, it’s important that you encourage healthy hygiene practices among your team. Amidst the growing coronavirus concerns, this also shows you take their health seriously.
Firstly, our hands are the mostly likely culprit when it comes to spreading infections. They are responsible for the distribution of 80% of common infectious diseases.
So, washing your hands with water and soap for at least 15 seconds is the easiest and cheapest way to prevent this.
You can promote proper hand hygiene in your workplace by providing high-quality soap and an alcohol-based hand sanitiser in the kitchen and bathroom areas.
It’s also important that staff cover any broken skin. Our skin is a major protective barrier against germs – so cuts or abrasions should be protected with a band-aid or dressing.
Finally, avoid sharing personal items such as lip balms, drink bottles, earphones and hairbrushes.
Need help keeping your workplace germ-free?
If you want a safe and hygienic workplace for you and your staff, it’s best to get in the experts.
At iClean, our top-notch service paired with our proficient cleaning experience means your workplace will be a clean and safe environment – for clients, teams and management alike. Give us a call on 1300 763 356.