Op-Ed: Cleaning, disinfecting high contact surfaces key to reopening businesses
Before occupants return to a building that has been vacated for a significant period of time, building owners, managers and operators should complete a variety of pre-return checks, tasks, and assessments to ensure a healthy and safe environment, and to guarantee the continuity of operations.
On this next phase of recovery, companies should focus on a list of workplace readiness essentials prior to reopening:
- Prepare the building: Draft disinfecting plans, pre-return inspections, HVAC & mechanicals checks;
- Prepare the workforce: Mitigate anxiety, establish policies for deciding who returns to work, employee communications;
- Control access: Establish protocols for safety and health checks, building reception, shipping and receiving, elevators, visitor policies;
- Create a social distancing plan: Reduce density, manage schedules, office traffic patterns;
- Reduce touch points and increase cleaning and disinfecting: Open doors, clean desk policy, food plan, cleaning common areas; and,
- Communicate for confidence: Recognize the fear in returning, communicate transparently, listen and survey regularly.
Cleaning and disinfecting are big players in business readiness plans. But this, given the seriousness of the matter, must be done in a very responsible and accurate way, following the recommendations of the guidelines of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Both organizations recognized that frequently touched surfaces are reservoirs for viral pathogens and emphasis on the disinfection of this surfaces is the key for a successful control plan.
Employers have a duty to protect their employees, preventing the spread of COVID-19. This, in addition to providing a healthy work environment while they continue their operations, helps to have more productive employees by feeling safe in their workplace.
Disinfection and sanitation efforts by companies in the workplace will not be effective if they are not coupled with a professional evaluation and mitigation plan. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that a specialized company with a well-recognized performance record be hired, to guarantee the result required by the authorities: minimizing the survival or existence of the virus in facilities, not only on high-contact surfaces, but on any other surface of the affected facility and in turn protect the health and safety of those who perform the work.
Companies that require disinfection and sanitation services should request the company or supplier for their credentials, as well as the safety data sheet (SDS) for the product and a copy of the label. You must also request the current certifications, references in works of similar magnitude and type of operation, and it is really important you to know about the technology to be used and the product to be applied.
Currently, Indoor Environmental Consultants recommends two types of processes: the first, proactively to minimize the spread of communicable diseases, such as coronavirus (COVID-19), mycoplasma, and influenza.
The second process is focused on responding to suspect or confirmed COVID-19 cases at facilities, as required by the CDC in its updated guidelines.
Every company that has as a priority to provide a safe and healthy work environment, that promotes the productivity and well-being of its employees, must incorporate this disinfection process as part of its contingency and business continuity plan.
It is the only way in which we are all contributing, in a wise and responsible way, to the total eradication of this silent enemy.