The outbreak of the COVID-19 disease in Wuhan Province China and into the entire world in 2019 certainly changed a lot of things. Workplaces especially had to adjust how they previously viewed cleanliness in general. WHO immediately swung into action advising people on how to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. Following this, the world became aware of how the virus spreads which is when someone coughs or exhales, thereby releasing droplets of infected fluids. Now for workplaces, these fluids fall on anything from surfaces and objects such as desks, tables, telephones, chairs, files doors, and more. So, when staff touch these contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes and nose, the mouth they get infected with COVID-19. One other thing is that a person may breathe droplets coughed in if they are standing within one meter of a person who’s already infected.
Indeed workplace cleanliness has changed and we no longer see it the same way. Here’s how COVID-19 has changed the way we think about workplace cleanliness.
· Identification of frequently touched surfaces
Objects such as doors, doorknobs, windows computers, keyboards are some of the areas frequently touched by people. They are also most likely to be contaminated by the virus. Areas such as these mean that they require more cleaning than the rest. Other frequently touched surfaces include:
- Desks, platforms, and workstations
- Common areas such as toilets and bathrooms
- Reception, changing rooms, corridors, and lifts
- Control panels for machinery, and switches
- Taps, kettles, water heaters, and fridges
- Shared equipment such as machines, vehicles, and delivery boxes
- Post and goods that are shipped in
It’s necessary to deep clean these frequently touch objects and areas at different times during the day. Workplaces now have rules like cleaning touched surfaces immediately.
· More emphasis on washing hands
Even though employees at the workplace previously washed their hands say after lunch or maybe when an employee visited the washrooms. With the pandemic, things have changed. It’s no longer just about washing hands after eating. According to WHO, it’s advisable to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid the spread of germs. Employers now have to remind workers through printed sheets on when to wash their hands for example,
- After using the washrooms
- After touching rubbish
- After washing their nose, sneezing or coughing
- Before eating food
An alcohol-based sanitizer can be used as a substitute for soap and water in case they aren’t available. The alcohol-based sanitizers should contain 60% to 95% alcohol. However, in situations where hands are visibly dirty, employees are advised to use soap and water. In addition, employers may provide tissues and touch-free bins.
· Hiring professional office cleaning services
Workplace surfaces such as desks, countertops, floors, doorknobs, keyboards are more than ever required to be cleaned frequently. For extra safety, they should be cleaned at least two or three times every day. The better idea and what most companies are resorting to is hiring a facilities management services company to take care of their cleaning needs.
Office cleaning agencies can come and clean workplaces at any time even during traditional office hours. With their cleaning experience and a guide, the cleaning agency can develop a plan based on the number of employees and the size of the office space. Keeping workplaces clean has become even more challenging during this COVID-19 pandemic. If rubbish clutter and dirty spaces aren’t taken care of employees could get ill.
Moreover, without proper cleaning, office workplaces start to accumulate dirt and contaminants that may affect employee health and wellness. Hiring professional office cleaning services ensures that workplaces get detailed cleaning services that reduce the chances of the coronavirus from spreading around the office.
· Practicing sneezing and coughing etiquette
Similar to how other viruses spread, people with COVID-19 spread the virus through respiratory secretions when they cough or sneeze. The best time to practice good health and hygiene is when ill especially while coughing and sneezing. A good way to prevent the germs from spreading is by restraining from coughing or sneezing in the hands. The second is to cover the mouth with a tissue or upper sleeve when sneezing or coughing. From then on you can safely dispose of the used tissue in a wastebasket.
· Reducing the need for cleaning
It has been proven that reducing people’s contact with surfaces and objects is much better than relying on cleaning. How can workplaces do this? The first is by limiting the movement of people around the workplace as much as possible. This means allocating some work areas to only specific people, reducing the number of employees, closing off some workstations that can be done without, propping doors open to avoid touching the handles, reducing office equipment so that there’s less need to clean. All these measures reduce people’s need to touch surfaces or objects hence no need for cleaning at least regularly.
· Using fog, mist, and vapor as a disinfectant
To contain the COVID-19 virus, fog mist and vapor treatments can be used to control the spread. Fogging for example uses an antiviral disinfectant solution that cleans and sanitizes large areas of buildings quickly and effectively. This cleaning method can kill off the virus on surfaces be it desks, walls or floors. It’s done by spraying a fine mist from a spray gun which is left to evaporate for about 6 hours. Whoever does this has to wear a chemical suit, gloves, an air-fed ventilator, and a sealed mask.
The chemical used is safe on equipment such as printers and computers. Mist is used to penetrate every area so the virus gets killed.
In conclusion, The Pandemic has changed how we think about cleanliness at the workplace. It’s no longer something that’s taken lightly but rather more seriously than ever. Employers are required to provide a safe working environment for workers. How they can do this is by following the measures stated above such as reducing the need for cleaning, disinfecting premises, emphasis on washing hands, and washing hands after touching the COVID-19 risk areas.