During training, facility cleaning managers need to observe employees as they don and doff PPE to ensure that they follow every step correctly — particularly when it comes to wearing gloves.

"Typically, gloves are one of the last things on but one of the first things off because hands are arguably where we run the highest risk of contamination," says McGarvey.

Thompson advises custodians to wash their hands prior to putting gloves on and after removing them. He also recommends custodians remove their gloves every hour to wash their hands and put on a new pair.

Banks advocates a step-by-step protocol to avoid cross-contamination during glove removal.

"Use a gloved hand to grasp the palm area of the other gloved hand and peel off the first glove," he says. "Whilst holding the removed glove in the gloved hand, slide the fingers of the ungloved hand under the remaining glove at the wrist and peel off the second glove over the top of the first glove. Discard both gloves in a waste container."

If the worker is wearing an isolation gown, the gloves should extend to cover the wrists of the gown. Goggles and face shields should be removed from the back by lifting the headband or ear pieces. If hands become contaminated during goggles or face shield removal, Banks advises the wearer to wash them immediately and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

When using disposable masks, change-out frequencies vary, depending on the type of facility, the nature of the work performed and how often the custodian touches his or her face. According to Thompson, adults touch their face 19 to 38 times an hour — whether they are wearing gloves or not.

Regardless of mask type, custodians should read the instructions for use, avoid touching their face, and wash or discard masks after every shift.

"If the item is reusable, place it in a designated receptacle for reprocessing; otherwise discard it in a waste container," says Banks. "If you leave it lying around, other people can touch it and it can continue to contaminate things."

Signage Strategy

Like masks, social distancing signage has become ubiquitous — and the presence of both reassures visitors and building occupants that facilities are concerned about their health.

"Some people draw comfort from signage," says McGarvey. "They feel more confident going into a facility when they see a sign at the door asking everyone to put on a mask and sanitize their hands. If the facility doesn't have signage up, people become uneasy."

Unfortunately social distancing signs can be too much of a good thing. Thompson compares them to wet floor signs.

"If you use them all the time, no one pays attention," he says. "We're trying to cover every potential scenario and we're overloading everybody."

When posting signs or decals, Sortino recommends facilities focus on the hotspots — areas where people tend to congregate. He also suggests businesses set up a sanitation station at the entrance or the counter where transactions take place.

In fact, managers should establish best practices for social distancing signage, just as they would for PPE.

"If it's worth doing, then it's worth doing right. And if it's worth doing right, then it's worth marketing," says Thompson. "Our industry has to start marketing what we're doing right because people are finally watching what we're doing — and we've waited decades to get this exposure."

Kassandra Kania is a freelancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Steps For Implementing PPE