As COVID-19 continues to shift the world’s focus from cleaning for appearance to cleaning for health, some tools and simple protocols can greatly increase your infection-prevention odds. Below are seven cost-effective and easy-to-implement suggestions you can take to improve the health and safety of your facility without putting a dent in your budget.
- Microfiber remains one of the greatest cleaning innovations to date. Microfiber collects and holds onto more dust and dirt whether used dry or wet, keeping it from being airborne where it can irritate eyes, noses, and respiratory tracts; it also retains more water, leaving less liquid behind to cause potential slips and falls. While there are pluses and minuses for disposable single-use microfiber vs. launderable, most often it comes down to the specific needs of the environment in which the microfiber is being used. Washable microfiber mops and cloths might be preferable for office or industrial buildings, while single-use disposable microfiber tools could prove a better choice for healthcare and other facilities where the chance of infection and cross-contamination can be highest.
- This brings up the benefits of avoiding cross-contamination by using microfiber and other tools that are color-coded for the specific task and/or area being cleaned. In a healthcare setting, for example, color-coding prevents the same cleaning tool from being used to clean the toilet and a patient’s tray table. In foodservice, color-coded tools can be segregated to individual departments or areas. In hospitality, one color can be used in the washroom while another color can be used for the living area.
- HEPA filters
- Available for use in everything from vacuums to air purifiers to whole facility air circulation systems, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters rely on a fine mesh that is superior at capturing dirt and minute particles, such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, even tobacco smoke. By law, HEPA filters must capture a minimum of 99.97% of contaminants at .3 micron size, while many remove even smaller particulate. These efficient filters improve indoor air quality and can be especially beneficial to people living with allergies, asthma, other respiratory conditions, and cardiovascular disease.
- Personal protection equipment (PPE)
- Since the COVID-19 pandemic, few, if any, people are unfamiliar with basic PPE—masks and gloves. However, while gloves are a must in nearly all cleaning endeavors to protect from harsh, irritating chemicals, in many instances additional PPE can be called for to keep workers safe. This can include eyewear to protect against accidental chemical splashes, safety head and footwear in an industrial setting, and full PPE suits where exposure to COVID-19 or other viruses is likely, such as in healthcare settings. Just as important as having the right PPE is knowing how to put it on and remove it so that the skin never touches the outer, potentially contaminated surface. PPE training is mandated by OSHA for employees handling chemicals, but PPE training is a good idea for all workers to help avoid injury and prevent infection.
- Having the right floor matting in strategic places, such as entryways, can reduce the chance of slip, trip, and fall accidents caused by wet slippery floors, especially in snowy and rainy weather. Contaminated and dirty floors also contribute to poor indoor air quality, which can negatively affect building occupants and cleaning personnel alike. Using an efficient Entryway System to keep dirt out of the building is the first step in creating a healthy building.
- Safer product choice
- With infection prevention on the minds of everyone due to the COVID pandemic, it is often tempting to grab the heaviest-hitting cleaners and disinfectants available. However, a better, healthier program for both cleaners and building occupants is to choose the least toxic, most environmentally preferable processes and formulations possible to effectively reach the desired outcome. For example, while it is necessary to frequently disinfect high-touch points, other seldom-used areas often require thorough cleaning only. And in some cases, such as outdoor areas like playgrounds and parks, the CDC actually recommends never using a disinfectant, stating it is unnecessary and risks doing more harm than good.
- Ergonomic equipment
- Cleaning personnel has a high incidence of on-the-job injuries, many of which stem from using equipment that is poorly suited to them or the task at hand. Often, the remedy can be as simple as raising or lowering the handle of the cleaning cart, using a self-wringing mop bucket, or opting for a floor machine with an adjustable, supportive backrest. Let employees test equipment prior to purchase. A good ergonomic training course is another way to reduce injuries (and potential workers’ compensation claims) and increase overall workplace safety.
Following these suggestions will help your facility occupants and employees breathe easier knowing their health and safety is your top of mind.