How businesses can develop a COVID Safe Plan
As organisations and venues manage the safe return of staff and patrons into workplaces and public spaces, health authorities are stressing the importance of cleaning and hygiene to prevent the resurgence of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Business owners, venue operators, and facility managers are asking questions such as:
How do we know which surfaces to clean and how often?
Which disinfectant products and methods are effective and safe?
How can we give our staff, guests and visitors the confidence that our building is clean and safe to enter?
In response to these concerns Bridget Gardner, director of consultancy firm High Performance Cleaning (HPC) Solutions, has developed a Guide to Cleaning for COVID-19.
The guide has interpreted all government and health authority guidelines into actionable advice. It is complimented with a suite of practical procedures to assist businesses to plan and implement effective cleaning practices, and manage the risks of cleaning for COVID-19.
“Cleaning services have a vitally important role to play in preventing a second wave of COVID-19 and helping businesses, workplaces, and the economy get back on track.
“A plan to clean surfaces must form part of every building’s COVID Safe Plan, however there is a lot of conflicting information about how best to do that. There’s no point throwing money at increased hours and sanitisers if you have no idea whether they are successfully removing the risk of infection,” said Ms Gardner.
Developing a preventative cleaning program
Ms Gardner has outlined four key strategies that should underpin a COVID-Safe cleaning program:
- Set protocols for cleaning high touch points
A high touch point (HTP) is a surface that is frequently touched by many hands, and at higher risk of contaminating hands. HTP protocols need to identify three key aspects: the high touch points, the cleaning methodology, and the frequency of cleaning.
“Spend time observing how people use the facility. For example, people do not always use the push plate of a bathroom door and instead push above or below it. Also keep in mind that not every touched surface is called a high touch surface. Identify the critical points which are those at most risk of spreading contamination.”
Check disinfection methods are evidence-based and compliant
According to Ms Gardner, disinfectants for touch points must be antiviral and, if possible, ARTG registered as effective against COVID-19.
“Disinfection is a process, not just a product. The process needs to be considered in its entirety: the surface, the method of application, the tools used, and the time the disinfectant stays wet on a surface.”
Ensure sufficient quantities of cleaning tools
Using reusable cleaning tools on multiple touch points carries a significant risk of cross-contamination. In a hospital settings, disposable wipes are commonly used with one wipe per surface. However single-use wipes create a significant amount of waste and are usually too expensive for a community setting.
“Non-healthcare facilities should implement a colour-coded system for each area of the facility, calculate the quantity of cloths according to the number of high touch points, and where possible, carry, store and launder cloths on-site.”
Validate the cleanliness of high touch points
According to Ms Gardner, the two most relevant methods of validating the results of preventative cleaning are UV Fluorescence and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing.
“This is not the time to rely on subjective, visual assessment. Both UV Fluorescence and ATP testing need to be conducted using auditing protocols by trained personnel to ensure accurate and reliable results.
“The cleaning of high touch points is a critically important component to keep a facility and its occupants COVID safe, but it is equally imperative that both cleaning and testing are carried out correctly otherwise it could be creating a false of security,” said Ms Gardner.
About Bridget Gardner
Bridget Gardner has worked in the cleaning industry since 2001, first as a business operator, and then as a qualified trainer, assessor, researcher, and documentation writer. Bridget is a specialist in best practice cleaning for sustainability, health, and infection control.
About HPC Solutions
High Performance Cleaning Solutions Pty Ltd, trading as HPC Solutions, is a cleaning consultancy and training company based in Melbourne. HPC Solutions’ mission is to keep people, environments, and businesses healthy by empowering people to clean with care, skill, and pride and to treat cleaning as important.