The COVID-19 pandemic has increased public awareness, now more than ever, of the risks that bacteria and viruses present. Germs are transmitted in the air, from person to person and via surfaces. Any surfaces that are directly touched by skin – most often the hand – can transmit germs to people. Some germs can survive on hard surfaces for several days and contaminated hands can continue to contaminate other surfaces up to 10 touches later.
As organisations look to re-open, it’s important that cross-contamination risks are considered and appropriate steps are taken to ensure that staff return to work safely. An integrated approach to hygiene – that includes disinfection and sanitisation solutions – can help limit the spread of harmful germs.
Initial, Journey of the Germ
The hygiene steps you need to take to re-open safely
We recommend three important steps for you to return to work safely.
- Before you re-open: disinfect your premises using a specialist provider to remove all harmful pathogens. Find out more about disinfection services for your business from our sister company, Rentokil.
- After you re-open: devise a strict cleaning regime to remove germs on a frequent basis during and after your staff return to work. This should cover surface, hand and air hygiene. The rest of this blog focuses on this particular step.
- Ongoing hygiene: consider what your medium-term and long-term hygiene protocols and policies will cover so that your staff continue to feel safe. These plans should look at regular maintenance of hygiene solutions, such as air purifiers that can offer continuous service should another lockdown appear.
The different stages of surface hygiene
Before we look at different solutions, it’s important to clarify what the different stages of surface hygiene can entail.
- Cleaning technically means the removal of layers of dirt, such as dust and shed skin cells, that accumulate during everyday workplace activities and over periods of lockdown. Regular cleaning is important, not just for COVID-19, but also for the many who suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma or allergies such as hay fever.
- Cleaning can physically remove some microorganisms from surfaces, but doesn’t kill them. After cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation solutions can kill most of the bacteria, viruses, moulds and fungi on surfaces, helping keep levels of germs in your business safe. While different legislations exist globally, the terms ‘disinfection’ and ‘sanitisation’ have been combined and mean the same thing in more recent regulations.
- Sterilisation is the complete removal of all microorganisms on a surface or in a fluid. Achieved by using heat, steam or strong chemicals, this method is used for hygiene in medical environments, such as surgery rooms.
Many businesses are currently considering the right daily hygiene regimes for their premises. By providing your cleaning staff with appropriate practices and solutions and giving employees the tools they need to sanitise their own workspaces, you can keep surfaces hygienic and reassure your staff.
Sanitising and disinfecting solutions for your business
There are hygiene solutions that can disinfect and sanitise surfaces and prevent cross-contamination across your whole facility.
Surface sprays and wipes
Though important, cleaning is not an effective way of removing bacteria and viruses from surfaces. In fact, sometimes cleaning with just a water and cloth can help spread germs. Sprays and wipes that kill up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses are a much more effective solution.
In businesses, these self-service solutions can give frequently touched objects and surfaces – such as stair rails, kettles, office equipment and payment areas – up to 24 hours of protection. They can also help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses in food-handling areas.
Frequent, often unavoidable contact, with multiple people’s hands means door handles are a particular hotspot for germ transmission. A study demonstrated how a single contaminated door handle can infect up to 60% of the occupants of a building within just four hours. Antibacterial door handle covers don’t use chemicals, get to work immediately and can kill 99.99% of germs. These hygienic-touch handles are suitable for any location – particularly washrooms or communal areas with heavy football.
Dr Charles Gerba, University of Arizona
Other surface solutions that reduce germ transmission
Floor mats can reduce cleaning costs, protect flooring and help prevent accidents in the workplace. They’re also hygienic. People carry an average of 421,000 bacteria on the outside of their shoes and the first steps into a building can bring around 85% of outdoor contaminants inside.
Mats that reduce cross-contamination can, therefore, have a significant impact on the rest of a workplace. Ideal for use at entrances, such as reception areas, floor mats can reduce the number of germs brought into a building by up to 80%, lowering the risk of transmission to people and surfaces inside.
Dr Charles Gerba, University of Arizona, and The Rockport® Company
United States Environmental Protection Agency
No-touch hygiene solutions
Hand hygiene is critically important to reduce cross-contamination, but considering surfaces in washrooms where you wash and dry your hands is also essential. Installing no-touch dispensers in your facility removes any surface touchpoints – minimising chances of people picking up pathogens as they wash, dry or sanitise their hands.
Keep Safe with Hygiene Services
Getting back to work is a key concern for many businesses and organisations and establishing what the ‘new normal’ looks like will take time. Surface hygiene solutions can help mitigate the cross-contamination risks and help keep your colleagues and customers safe and healthy, making the transition period easier for staff and businesses. Reach out to the experts today to learn more about disinfection and sanitisation.