Tips For Safely Reopening Workplaces
Contributed by Allied Eagle Supply Company & Spartan Chemical Company
“Are we ready to reopen our business for in-person work?” This question may be top of mind right now for many organization leaders who had to shut down in-person work operations due to the pandemic.
Allied Eagle Supply Company, a janitorial and sanitation product distributor, and Spartan Chemical Company, a chemical manufacturer, want to make sure that organizations are taking the right steps, and maintaining the necessary level of clean as they navigate the reopening process. Join Megan Thompson, marketing coordinator at Allied Eagle, as she interviews Matt Ward, regional manager at Spartan Chemical, to uncover some vital workplace reopening tips for a safe return to work.
Megan: What kind of plans should business owners have in place before reopening their workplace?
Matt: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with help from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, has published excellent guidelines for safe occupation of workspaces. Be aware of some of the changes from OSHA. Employers should still take steps to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces. Additionally, buildings that have been shuttered for an extended period of time may have water quality, air quality, or pest concerns. Before reopening, it would be wise to create a checklist, inspect and assess your workplace, implement guidelines, conduct training, and equip your workplace with the necessary structures, systems, signage, and cleaning supplies to return safely.
Megan: How often should workspaces be cleaned and disinfected?
Matt: High-touch surfaces (doorknobs, elevator buttons, shared workspaces) should all be cleaned frequently throughout the day, while highly encouraging frequent hand washing by occupants. Daily thorough cleaning and disinfecting is a best practice regardless of COVID concerns.
Megan: What should businesses do if they have an outbreak of COVID-19?
Matt: When an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID, tracing their exposure in the workplace is important. Areas they worked in should be quarantined. Then, a thorough regimen of cleaning AND disinfecting should be followed.
Megan: Which EPA List N products would you recommend for different areas of the workplace?
Matt: We currently have 23 different disinfectant products on List N. There are many factors to consider when choosing a disinfectant: soil load, the surface material being cleaned, time constraints, etc. One example would be that plexiglass doesn’t tolerate strong cleaning chemistry, so some disinfectants and general cleaners can etch or cloud it. Realistically, the most important thing is that a good process is followed in any cleaning regimen. The best disinfectant in the world is no good if it’s used incorrectly. Proper training, validation of the process, and documentation should be completed.
Megan: Are there long-lasting disinfectants to treat surfaces for viruses?
Matt: This question has come up a lot over the past year. The EPA has approved some products as material preservatives under the category of “treated articles” to protect the surface material from “staining from mold, mildew and odor causing bacteria” (think of outdoor furniture seat cushions). Treated articles can protect the surface against mildew and odor, but they don’t have efficacy or “kill” claims against SARS-CoV-2. These products do not have “human health benefits” to protect humans from picking up the virus from surfaces. For example, the EPA had previously provided a temporary emergency approval for one product for use in 3 states, but recently rescinded that by issuing a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order. Bottom line, right now there are no magic wands in long-lasting surface cleaning and disinfecting.
For a video pertaining to the interview, click here.