Whether you have sent employees to work from home or temporarily closed your business in order to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, there are some steps you need to take before reopening your workplace. One of the most important aspects to welcoming workers back is ensuring that your space is properly cleaned and disinfected to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. This way, you can assure employees that they will be safe and well taken care of, before they even step foot in your facility again.
How can you clean your workplace before opening? The CDC has established reopening guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, including businesses. This guidance incorporates three main elements: developing, implementing, and revising a plan for effective cleaning.
Develop Your Plan
The first thing you need to do is determine exactly what objects and which areas in your facility require cleaning. You can consider certain factors such as which surfaces are shared (ex: door handles, copy machines, printers) and whether you have material that is difficult to clean. The CDC provides general cleaning recommendations, including:
- Any outdoor areas do not need to be disinfected.
- Soft and porous items should be either consistently laundered or completely removed.
- If an area has not been occupied for 7 days or more, normal cleaning is sufficient. There is not currently evidence that the virus survives on surfaces for longer than this period of time.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting; “cleaning” refers to routine cleaning with soap and water. Disinfecting, however, requires the use of EPA-approved disinfectants. Any time you disinfect a surface, it should be cleaned with soap and water first.
Implement a Cleaning Routine
Part of your plan should include identifying employees who will be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting. These employees should be provided with the appropriate supplies for their tasks, including necessary PPE such as masks and gloves. Workers need to read manufacturer instructions on cleaning materials, and they should be trained on the hazards of cleaning chemicals as required by OSHA’s HazCom standard. A cleaning routine should also be ongoing, not just implemented during reopening.
Revise Your Plan As Needed
Until there is effective treatment for the coronavirus, the main goal is to reduce exposure as much as possible. As recommendations continue to change and you see what works effectively in your facility, your cleaning plan should be updated accordingly. Stay up to date with your local health authorities’ guidelines. In combination with social distancing and other public health strategies, having your facility appropriately cleaned ensures your employees will be less at risk for COVID-19 as they return to work.
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