Returning to work

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Staff are now coming back to the office – but how do you maintain a safe place for them to return to?

Jerome Rellis Director at Green Machine Commercial Cleaning in Taunton looks at what companies should consider in order to maintain a safe environment for getting back to business safely.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for extra vigilance around workplace cleaning and hygiene, with many businesses now upgrading their cleaning policies and seeking professional help. As people are coming back to your office, factory, school, shop, Surgery, Dental Practice or other workplaces you may want to re-evaluate your cleaning regime.

Green Machine have produced a new COVID-19 procedure in partnership with NHS England, detailing a breakdown of essential cleaning that should occur to maintain a safe working environment.

This document helps identify the common touchpoints in a workplace, touchpoints are areas or items that get used, handled, or as it states ‘touched’ numerous times a day. These touchpoints can harbour more bacteria than other areas around your workspace and as such must be thoroughly cleaned and then disinfected.

Make sure you clean before disinfecting, cleaning removes dirt and germs from surfaces or objects and helps to reduce the spread of infection more than disinfecting alone. Make sure the surface to be disinfected is visibly clean. Do not disinfect a visibly soiled surface.

You should establish a frequent disinfection routine for all the identified touchpoints. All identified touchpoint surfaces must be treated a minimum of every 2-3 hours depending on the size of the area and staff available for disinfecting. So take this into consideration when updating your cleaning policy.

If possible, use a checklist to record compliance and to create a daily record of disinfection.

When cleaning your workplace make sure you wear approved personal protective equipment (PPE (i.e., latex or nitrile gloves), and ensure clothes are changed daily or when they become visibly soiled.

For extra peace of mind, you should consider getting a professional deep clean.

During a deep clean all areas in the workplace are sprayed or fogged followed by a full clean using disposable clinical wipes and disposable mop heads. The wipes used should be the type that kill MRSA, Nora Virus and H1N1. All hard surfaces including floors, chairs, doors/handles, reusable equipment, and fittings in the room should also be disinfected.

When conducting any deep clean the infection control team carrying out the work should wear the following PPE as standard:

  • Body suit-glove
  • Mask
  • Shoe Covers
  • Disposable Gloves

A deep clean ensures the highest levels of cleanliness and hygiene are achieved. At Green Machine we supply clients with a completed contaminated room checklist sheet following a deep clean for your records.

What else can you do?

You can help keep your working environment safe by focussing on the three key hand hygiene areas – handwashing, hand drying and hand sanitising –here you can reduce the spread of germs, control sickness absence, and provide added peace of mind for your team.

Washing hands with soap and water is undoubtedly the most convenient way to prevent infections. For the washroom so ensure soap dispensers are always full by checking them regularly.

Get your Hand driers routinely serviced and keep them well maintained, you may also want to check they are switched on and off at appropriate times. If you don’t have hand driers make sure you have a good supply of disposable hand towels at hand and that these are regularly stocked up.

Consider placing hand sanitiser stands at entryways and in high footfall areas, for example, to freshen hands after using the lift or before entering waiting or conference rooms.

Finally, when staff are back in the office, you should keep all desks, work surfaces, and floors as clean as possible. Encourage your employees to remove all personal items from their workspace and rooms. Also, in all your communal areas such as waiting rooms or canteens items such as magazines are completely removed.

If you do have a suspected case when you are back in the office, we advise the following:

  • All air conditioning should be switched off.
  • Open the window of the infected room(s)
  • Lock the door and place a sign on the door – stating out of use
  • Contact a professional Contract Cleaning company to arrange a deep clean

In summary identify your touchpoints, clean, and disinfect effectively where needed, and if necessary, get a professional cleaning company to carry out a deep clean, once you have conducted these steps you can be sure you are maintaining a safe place for your staff to return to.

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