Are you interested in how you can best protect your workplace from COVID-19? Check out this snippet from our 2020 COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan in regard to environmental infection prevention and control:
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus, in general, occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites. Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for the prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses.
Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But by removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore any risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting works by using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. But killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
Considerations for Employers:
1. It is unknown how long the air inside a room occupied by someone with confirmed COVID-19 remains potentially infectious. Facilities will need to consider factors such as the size of the room and the ventilation system design (including flowrate [air changes per hour] and location of supply and exhaust vents) when deciding how long to close off rooms or areas used by ill persons before beginning disinfection. Taking measures to improve ventilation in an area or room where someone was ill or suspected to be ill with COVID-19 will help shorten the time it takes respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.
2. Employers should educate staff and workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up activities to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 and provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus. At a minimum, any staff should immediately notify their supervisor and the local health department if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. The health department will provide guidance on what actions need to be taken.
3. Employers should develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on-site prior to providing cleaning tasks. Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
4. Employers should also refer to their local and state health departments to ensure appropriate local protocols and guidelines, such as updated/additional guidance for cleaning and disinfection, are followed, including for identification of new potential cases of COVID-19.
Routine Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection:
1. Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs.
2. If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
3. For disinfection, the most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
5. For electronics follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. Consider the use of wipeable covers for electronics. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.
6. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
7. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools, and equipment) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
8. Establish a policy for disinfecting points of sale such as credit card terminals and pens/styluses between each customer. Consider providing wipes for customers and asking them to do this themselves after each use.
Use EPA registered disinfectants listed for use against SARS-CoV-2.
Want to learn more? Don’t have your COVID-19 plans in place yet? Take a look at our 2020 COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and Awareness Training listed on our website. You can receive the COVID-19 Plan for free along with the purchase of an OSHA product (does not include OSHA Online Training), and you can receive our COVID-19 Training for free along with the purchase of our OSHA Online Training. Click on "COVID-19 Plan" on our blue main menu bar to view our COVID-19 products today.
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