So how can we as business owners, facility managers and cleaning team members reduce or even eliminate the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and seasonal influenza in the buildings we look after?
How can we help to make staff, clients, visitors and guests safe and protected?
What's your hygiene action plan and will it protect you?
In this article, we cover simple ways you and your cleaning teams can become an important part of the solution when the flu season starts or when the threat of a pandemic is present.
Your hygiene plan and commitment to take action is very important and may save lives. Whether your facility is a hotel, theme park, school, office building, retail store, gym, shopping centre or anywhere else, at this very important time please make hygiene a top priority.
So where should we start?
The 4 Part Hygiene & Disease Prevention Program...
1. Hand Hygiene
2. Personal Protective Equipment
3. Surface Sanitisation
4. Touchpoint Elimination
Now let's break it down and make a plan.
The part you can play alongside your cleaning and environmental services team members is a big part of the solution to help us stay healthy, especially those who are most at risk such as the elderly, those with existing medical conditions and small children.
That's because your hygiene standards directly affect and influence how easily viruses like novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza spread. But before going on we must mention WHO!?
World Health Organisation
Before we get started it is important to ensure you are following all the latest instructions from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government (including state government and your local council).
Here's a link to an interim guidance (25/1/2020) from the World Health Organisation (WHO) about... Infection prevention and control during health care when novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected.
The World Health Organisation is the global authority on these matters and it's usually who we turn to first for advice.
It's important to note that some state government health departments have given different advice to WHO in some cases during this Coronavirus outbreak. In every case so far we have recommended that our clients follow their local health departments advice and instructions.
An Action Plan
Here is a summary of an action plan that you can put into place immediately.
Please note that our focus is purely on helping our customers who are involved with facilities affected by the virus but not working around people who are known to have the virus (eg. at the Hospital or in quarantine).
This plan is aimed at the environmental control level of facilities that may have had an infected person or suspect victim in their facility. This plan is also good practice, especially during the flu season.
1. Hand Hygiene
If you haven't already, start following strict hand hygiene procedures including regular washing of hands and sanitising of hands.
2 x Free Wall Charts For You!
We have our 2 Free How To charts for this which follow the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Please print these (and laminate them if you like) and position in your facility.
What do you need?
A. Touch Free Hand Soap Dispensers
Touch free hand soap dispensers mean no one touches the dispenser to get soap. Installing touch free dispensers often results in more people washing their hands because their concern about touching surfaces in a washroom that might be contaminated is eliminated.
Do you have touch free washroom dispensers?
B. Antibacterial Hand Soap Refills
At XO2 we recommend antibacterial hand soaps like XO2® High Five and XO2® Microwash. Our preference is always a sealed hand soap refill (manufactured in a production laboratory) for the best standard of hygiene.
Refillable or bulk hand soap dispensers should be avoided. If the person refilling the bulk fill dispenser has a condition, by a simple cough or sneeze, the bulk hand soap can become contaminated. All the people that then use this dispenser can then be at risk.
For those of you who are using bulk fill dispensers and choose not to change please note that the reservoir should be emptied and disinfected before each refill.
C. Touch Free Hand Sanitiser Dispensers
Go for touch free dispensers like XO2® 'The Bodyguard'... eliminate another risky touchpoint.
In addition to the washroom, hand sanitiser dispensers should also be positioned at the entrances and exits of your building. There may be several other positions inside your building where hand sanitiser dispensers can help improve hygiene and reduce contamination risks.
D. Hand Sanitiser Refills & Personal Hand Sanitiser Pump Packs
For hand sanitisers, we recommend and XO2® iSanitise. As always, touch free solutions are highly recommended. It's a good idea to also have a personal hand sanitiser pump pack that is just for your own personal use.
E. Touch Free Paper Towel Dispenser & Refills
At critical times like now, we recommend removing all automatic hand dryers immediately. These devices are often touched which is a concern but the biggest issue with them is their negative impact on air quality. Yes, even the ones with HEPA filters! This accelerated movement of air spreads all the airborne particles everywhere and onto every surface.
Poo particles in the air that you can't see are scary. We don't need to help them out with hand dryers.
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Be diligent with your use of personal protective equipment (PPE). In a treatment or quarantine area please follow your health department's guidelines. At the very minimum, include these 2 measures in your hygiene and disease prevention program...
A. Disposable Gloves
Wear disposable powder free nitrile gloves and replace frequently.
B. Disposable Respirators
Wear a suitable respirator face mask and replace frequently.
C. Stock Up On Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Please stock up on your personal protection equipment because when you really need it, it will be hard to find due to short supply and high demand. These are quite inexpensive items so plan ahead and have a little stockpile ready.
3. Surface & Touchpoint Sanitisation
Be relentless and continuous in your cleaning of all the surfaces in your facility that come in contact with people.
How to choose a sanitiser/disinfectant that is effective against Coronaviruses
Do your own research. Follow your local government health department's advice.
At a minimum ensure the products you are using contain one of the ingredients below at the recommended concentration. We will not guarantee any chemical on its own will kill anything if the process (eg. dwell time) is not sufficient.
Make sure the product is given sufficient dwell time to work on the surface. In most cases that is 1-10 minutes. Here's a list from the NEA in Singapore we use and the corresponding XO2 products that contain the particular ingredient.
1. Accelerated hydrogen peroxide (0.5%) (a)
2. Benzalkonium chloride* (0.05%) (b)
Ready to use.
3. Chloroxylenol (0.12%) (c)
4. Ethyl alcohol (70%) (d)
5. Iodine in iodophor (50 ppm) (b)
6. Isopropanol (50%) (b)
7. Povidone-iodine (1% iodine) (d)
8. Sodium hypochlorite (0.05 – 0.5%) (d, e)
9. Sodium chlorite (0.23%) (b)
Reference: NEA (https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/public-cleanliness/environmental-cleaning-guidelines/guidelines/interim-list-of-household-products-and-active-ingredients-for-disinfection-of-covid-19)
*Alternative name: alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
a Omisbahakhsh, N., & Sattar, S. A. (2006). Broad-spectrum microbicidal activity, toxicologic assessment, and materials compatibility of a new generation of accelerated hydrogen peroxide-based environmental surface disinfectant. American Journal of Infection Control, 34(5),
b Saknimit M, Inatsuki I, Sugiyama Y, Yagami K. (1988) Virucidal efficacy of physico-chemical treatments against coronaviruses and parvoviruses of laboratory animals. Jikken Dobutsu. 37:341-5; Tested against canine coronavirus
c Dellanno, C., Vega, Q., & Boesenberg, D. (2009). The Antiviral action of common household disinfectants and antiseptics against murine hepatitis virus, a potential surrogate for SARS coronavirus. American Journal of Infection Control, 37(8), 649-652. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2009.03.012
d Sattar SA, Springthorpe VS, Karim Y, Loro P. (1989). Chemical disinfection of non-porous inanimate surfaces experimentally contaminated with four human pathogenic viruses. Epidemiol. Infect. 102:493-505; Tested against coronavirus 229E.
e Lai, M. Y. Y., Cheng, P. K. C., & Lim, W. W. L. (2005). Survival of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 41(7), e67-e71.
What does the World Health Organisation recommend?
WHO is recommending sodium hypochlorite as a suitable disinfectant for surfaces.
This is found in the following XO2® surface cleaners ...
a. Power Bleach
b. Activ Chlor
c. Pro Foam
d. Wonder Gel
Our recommendation in this category is Power Bleach. To achieve the desired result, ensure you're cleaning solution is 200ppm (parts per million) chlorine. 40 parts water to 1 part Power Bleach should achieve 200ppm. Remember to always add water first and the chemical last when diluting a sanitiser concentrate with water.
How to clean and sanitise surfaces?
Time is the key. We recommend applying the product then leaving it on the surface for 10 minutes ensuring it makes contact with the entire surface to be sanitised before rinsing or wiping away.
Without dwell time to allow the cleaning chemical to work don't expect a surface to be truly clean and hygienic.
What are we using at XO2?
It's like Pine O Cleen on steroids and is designed to be able to achieve a TGA Hospital Grade Option B (dirty) pass. It's ready to use and you can spray and leave it OR spray, scrub and rinse it, OR spray on and wipe off.
Disso is also suitable for a surface that can't handle chlorine based products, or if you can't or don't want to use chlorine based products.
Disposable Alcohol Wipes Are A Must
Another great option is IPA Surface Wipes (70% Isopropyl Alcohol). These are especially handy for quick sanitising of telephones, light switches, lift buttons, railings, countertops etc.
They are a little more expensive but handy because they're a disposable wipe impregnated with the sanitiser.
Stop Using Reusable Cloths
At the best of times, reusable cloths harbour bacteria and all kinds of nasties.
That's why we recommend that you do not use re-usable cleaning cloths for cleaning tasks when hygiene really matters!
Wipe the surface and then bin the wipe!
You may have a wonderful colour coded system for your cleaning but in a high risk situation, disposable wiping solutions are hygienically far superior. If you absolutely have to use re-usable cloths, then you will need to disinfect them and wash them before every re-use.
Have A Procedure For Vomit, Blood, Faeces & Bodily Fluid Clean Up
Cleaning up vomit and bodily fluids is a very high risk task and is often a forgotten part of an infection prevention plan. Ensure you have the cleanup items you need in close proximity to where spills might happen. That may mean that you will have several clean up kits throughout your facility.
It's quite suitable in the case of a school or child care centre to have a clean up kit in each classroom.
a. PPE - Ensure you use adequate personal protection including disposable gloves, disposable mask and a disposable apron.
b. Make The Area Safe - Use signs and barricades to prevent access to the affected area.
c. Bio-Hazard Absorbent - Use a specialist bio-hazard absorbent to contain and soak up the majority of the spill.
d. Use Disposable Clean Up Items - A disposable scoop is very helpful for disposing of the used absorbent into an LDPE waste bag.
f. Final Clean - When the surface looks clean do an additional final clean of the area letting the sanitiser dwell on the surface before removing. Wait for the surface to dry before re-opening to foot traffic. Dispose of all items used in the clean up then when finished wash and sanitise your hands.
4. Touchpoint Elimination
With every touchpoint in your facility that you remove, the risk of viruses like coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza spreading reduces. This is often the forgotten part of a hygiene program.
The best way to start eliminating touch-points is to walk through your facility starting from the carpark writing down every possible thing that could be touched. Ask yourself, "Can we eliminate that touchpoint?". Put your ideas in order of risk and importance... then make the changes necessary.
Touchpoint Elimination Ideas For You Facility
A. Install automatic doors wherever possible.
B. Install touch free washroom dispensers.
C. Install automatic and touch free flushing on toilets and urinals.
D. Minimise self serve refreshments. Coffee and water stations are very high risk.
E. Service and disinfect air conditioning systems very regularly. Air quality should be a high priority.
F. No handshake policy. During high risk times coming up with a fun alternative greeting in the office is a good idea.
G. Change to touch free sanitary hygiene bins.
H. Install bins that don't need to be touched when you dispose of rubbish.
I. Install touch free taps in washrooms.
J. Install touch free light switches and sensor lights where possible.
K. Remove automatic hand dryers due to air quality issues.
We hope this information helps you. Above all, we hope and pray that you and your family stay safe and well.
If you need help we are here for you, just get in touch.
Have a great day!