Why you need to decontaminate your workplace
Creating a decontamination cleaning action plan has never been more important for you, your employees, cleaning operatives, or your business.
The consequences of not preparing adequately for the risks posed by SARS-CoV-2 could potentially be deadly and as a responsible business owner, it is vital that you manage all the risks.
This starts with having a robust decontamination cleaning action plan in the event that there is confirmed viral transmission in your workplace.
Coronavirus spreads when people are in close contact (approximately six feet). Many people do not show symptoms until 2-3 days after being infected, while others don’t display any symptoms.
This means that taking rapid action on any decontamination efforts is essential to the safety of people present in your workplace or facilities.
How to decontaminate a workplace
- Identify the source of viral transmission
It is important to first identify the individuals with confirmed cases of coronavirus. With whom did they come into contact in the workplace? What areas were they present? How many people were they in close contact with?
If possible, try to determine the dates that the individual(s) contracted the virus. This information will give you a clearer timeline of when the virus may have started shedding.
- Locate the contaminated areas and equipment
Contact tracing is a key aspect in decontamination. Speak with the infected individual if possible, to determine more precisely the areas they visited and any equipment or machinery they used.
If it is not possible to speak with the individual(s), you may have to clean as wide an area as possible to ensure no location is missed.
- Establish the method of decontamination
Sourcing the correct cleaning supplies and using the correct cleaning methods will determine the success of the Coronavirus decontamination process. The first step in the process is to clean the area thoroughly. Although this will not kill the coronavirus, it is an important first step.
The next step is to comprehensively disinfect all the areas and surfaces following the manufacturer’s guidance on cleaning products. Naturally, the chemicals and tools used to disinfect can be hazardous and a safety plan is vital to protect cleaning operatives.
- Establish a waste disposal system
Current guidance from the government on waste disposal recommends that extra bins are provided for face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Depending on the nature of your business and the waste created from the cleaning process, you may need to discuss with your waste disposal provider how to safely dispose of the waste.
- Regularly review your contamination cleaning plan in line with guidance
The novel coronavirus is a rapidly mutating virus, meaning that current scientific guidance changes frequently as new data comes to light.
To ensure that your business and your people are protected, ensure that you follow the latest guidance and adapt your contamination plan when advised.
Making a decontamination cleaning action plan
Creating a plan sends a clear sign to your employees, cleaning operatives, and customers that you prioritise safety above all and gives a clear sign that your office premises or facilities are safe and secure.
To decontaminate means to destroy or remove microbial contamination to make an object or environment safe.
The exact steps you take to decontaminate your workplace will depend on your individual circumstances. Always consult with a qualified facilities management organisation to ensure compliance with regulations.
The below steps can be used as a general guide to create a cleaning action plan.
- Where, how often and with what
The more frequently a surface comes into contact with individuals, the more likely it is that it will need daily cleaning and disinfection.
Consider how to identify the most high-touch surfaces and you can keep risks low (e.g., by providing extra bins for tissues, etc.)
Establish a clear plan for how you will source and ensure a steady supply of cleaning products and PPE (where relevant).
- Protecting cleaning staff
A key element of any cleaning plan is ensuring the safety of cleaning operatives. It may be necessary for you to hold training sessions on new safety processes necessary as a result of coronavirus.
If new cleaning products are being used for disinfection purposes, consider how you will communicate their proper use to cleaning operatives.
During deep cleaning and disinfecting, consider the risks in the area, including potentially toxic fumes. Areas should be as ventilated as possible and staff given the proper equipment to clean with.
- Educating non-cleaning staff members
New policies should be established within your workplace to educate employees on what they can do to contribute to a safer and healthier environment.
This could include risk awareness, understanding the reasons for new precautions, and how individuals can contribute to overall workplace safety.
A key part of this should be knowledge on rapid reporting of potentially unsafe areas or objects to prevent further spread of the virus.
- Maintain good records and communication with all stakeholders
The coronavirus situation is an unprecedented event, but the principles of good facilities management have always been clear.
Keep clear and consistent records on cleaning and decontamination activities. This will give you and all stakeholders a solid basis on which to develop best practices for your workplace.
This should be updated in line with public health advice from your local authority to ensure that new recommendations are being followed as soon as they have been officially disseminated.
Further, ensuring clear communication with other stakeholders will ensure that everyone is following the same processes to ensure the safety of others.
This general guide outlines the main elements involved in a decontamination cleaning action plan. However, this is no substitute for a bespoke facilities management plan based on your specific circumstances.
To ensure that you are remaining compliant and putting the health of your staff and customers first, contact the experts.
Our team at SMC Premier Group are leading property services and facilities management experts, focused on ensuring workplace safety. We are fully accredited and provide a range of cleaning services that are both sustainable and provide added value to your organisation.