Note [4/11/2020]: The coronavirus outbreak is a worldwide public health emergency and the situation changes daily. The best way to stay safe is to adhere to public health officials’ latest recommendations, regulations, and restrictions in your area. For more information about the outbreak, recommended disinfecting and sanitizing services, and other tips to prevent coronavirus exposure and infection, see the COVID-19 information and prevention guidelines from the Government of Canada and WHO.
Though the coronavirus outbreak has had varying impacts on different industry sectors and operations, every business is facing the difficult — and often costly — task of preparing and modifying workplaces to prevent coronavirus exposure among staff and customers .
For non-essential businesses, the standard actions to prevent coronavirus spread in the workplace are drastic, including: mandated closure, a rapid transition to working from home, and limited office accessibility .
For businesses still operating in-person, the necessary steps to prevent coronavirus exposure (and reduce risk of transmission during day-to-day operations) are no less drastic, though they are far less clear-cut. Many people still feel confused about what cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing behaviors are necessary (and what disinfecting and sanitizing products are sufficient) to prevent coronavirus spread to and between vulnerable populations and essential personnel. As a result, there’s little confidence that what businesses are doing to prevent coronavirus exposure in the workplace is enough, with as many as 42% of people still working in open offices stating a strong belief that it’s only a matter of time before their workplace becomes a “hotbed” for infection .
Health agencies’ guidance to prevent coronavirus exposure in workspaces note that the best effort is multifaceted . While enacting social distancing, empowering employees to work in isolation, and sending employees home who feel ill are all important and necessary, so too is regular cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing.
While there are resources available listing the DIY disinfecting and sanitizing measures and products that may be most effective to prevent coronavirus outbreaks in your office, DIY strategies cannot replace a well-qualified office disinfecting service for a number of reasons. For one, employees are not disinfecting and sanitizing experts. Moreover, consumer disinfecting and sanitizing products — like wipes and sprays — are not well-suited for every surface, may be difficult to apply effectively to hard-to-reach areas, and often require at least four minutes and up to 10 minutes of “dwell time” (time during which the surface must remain visibly wet in order for the product to fulfill sanitizing and disinfecting promises).
As a result, few consumer-directed disinfecting and sanitizing efforts are as effective as they could be. Some may even create a false sense of safety in the workspace, causing employees to relax otherwise still-critical social distancing steps needed to prevent coronavirus spread.
Not all products — or procedures — being used to prevent coronavirus spread are equally effective.
Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing are critical parts of any effort to prevent coronavirus spread because the virus, having been exhaled by an infected person, can survive on most surfaces for an alarmingly long period of time. For example, coronavirus persists on paper for about three hours, can survive on fabric surfaces for two days, and on nonwoven fabrics (like some linens, carpets, and automotive seat coverings and safety belts) for up to seven days . People who come into contact with these contaminated surfaces are at risk for infection.
Everyday cleaning can be helpful in efforts to prevent coronavirus exposure because cleaning removes dirt, dust, and other particulate matter from surfaces. It does not, however, kill bacteria or viruses and, consequently, does little to prevent coronavirus persistence .
By comparison, disinfecting and sanitizing prevent coronavirus persistence by killing the virus, not just moving it, even after an infected person has directly coughed or breathed onto a surface. That is because the virus itself is, according to environmental health scientists, “wimpy” once an appropriate sanitizing or disinfecting product breaches its fatty protective layer .
Finding adequate disinfecting and sanitizing solutions without overspending on unnecessary and/or ineffective cleaning products or services is increasingly important for multiple reasons:
Firms that fail to secure office disinfection services that are both cost- and demonstrably-effective will struggle to survive and recover from the economic impacts of the outbreak. That is because the community will be less likely to lend its support to (or repatronize) a business that appears reticent in its duty to prevent coronavirus exposure, or that appears to place profits over protection of its staff and customers.
The average desk harbors more than 800 bacteria per square inch (a 14x higher density than the average toilet seat) . Likewise, desktop phones in professional workspaces can harbor as many as 1600 bacteria and viruses per square inch, likely a result of their close proximity to workers’ faces and mouths .
Other hotspots to target to prevent coronavirus exposure in the office include common area surfaces and uncommonly-cleaned locations, like the elevator call buttons. This suggests that working with a high-quality office disinfection service is an essential step to prevent coronavirus exposure in your workspace, as daily cleaning and DIY sanitizing and disinfecting procedures leave so much behind.
Moreover, the best office disinfection services:
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to develop, it is increasingly important for business owners to take appropriate disinfecting and sanitizing measures to protect staff and customers at in-person office locations. What’s more, as mandated business closures and social distancing come to an end, firms that make appropriate office disinfection service investments will find it easier and faster to reopen and resume business.
For more information about How CleanFirst’s office disinfection service can prevent coronavirus and other illnesses from spreading within your workplace, see our full service description or contact a disinfecting and sanitizing specialist today.