Along with identifying problems, distributors can also serve as a guide for determining the reliability and legitimacy of supplies. In many cases, new players entering the fold and providing product alternatives to those in short supply is beneficial, but Schneringer stresses the need for due diligence when seeking unconventional options.

Relaxed requirements for manufacturing hand sanitizers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expands opportunities for facilities to procure hand hygiene supplies, but it also opens the door for ineffective products. Introducing those alternatives in sectors such as healthcare and hospitality provides an especially notable risk.

“We’ve seen local breweries or distilleries make a couple hundred cases of hand sanitizer using their excess alcohol in stock, then donate it to facilities. While that’s great, end users shouldn’t automatically assume that the quality is up to par with professional brands,” says Schneringer. “Distributors can be relied on to help determine whether product alternatives will meet facility guidelines and keep occupants safe.”

Expanding their consulting efforts further, WAXIE developed online education modules covering a spectrum of pandemic-related procedures and products for appropriate re-opening. The intention, Schneringer says, is to provide customers with an easily accessible, constantly updated resource for information on hand hygiene, targeted disinfection and more.

The appropriate use of disinfectants is a particular focus of the modules, especially for facilities adopting higher-intensity options with the intent of keeping occupants safe from the virus, he adds. In most cases, disinfectant usage can be kept to high-touch areas including door handles, light switches and elevator buttons.

“There are more and more people contacting poison control because of the misuse of disinfectants,” says Schneringer. “At the end of the day, disinfectants are registered pesticides designed to kill things. You need a targeted approach to get the desired result. Otherwise, you can end up inadvertently getting occupants sick with the same products you intended to protect them with.”

In many cases, customers didn’t realize disinfectants required specific training — which gives distributors the opportunity to step in, build trust and help them avoid harmful outcomes. At the same time, Schneringer says many higher-tier facility executives across various industries are finally paying attention to cleaning processes and hygiene, and seeking guidance themselves. It culminates in an unprecedented eagerness to ramp up protocols, but doing so correctly is imperative.

“Superintendents, company executives and others are suddenly getting more involved and interested in cleaning, and they’re going to want to work with people who know what they are talking about,” says Schneringer. “They won’t be amused with a ‘wild-wild west’ approach. They want effective and repeatable outcomes because the consequences of inadequate cleaning have never been higher for public health and company reputation.”

In addition to excessive and improper use of the disinfectants, Bill Fellows, a consultant with over 54 years of experience in the cleaning industry, says many end users are also skimping on proper cleaning-then-disinfection techniques in their eagerness to apply COVID-19-eradicating products.

“Cleaners are not disinfectants, and surfaces need to be cleaned first,” he says. “It’s a glaring problem we are seeing that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.”

Compounding the issue is the commonality of spray bottle usage with disinfectants. According to Fellows, this is a system that lends itself to miscalculated doses of disinfectant being applied with little regard to varying dwell times.

“Oftentimes, not enough disinfectant is applied to a cloth or paper towel,” says Fellows. “If the surface itself is sprayed, any part that isn’t wet is not being disinfected properly.”

The key to overcoming the misuse of disinfectants, Fellows adds, is an improved focus on chemical safety and the understanding of safety data sheets (SDS). In particular, distributors can teach their customers to dive deeper into specific SDS terms and their implications.

“I’ve been teaching a course on SDS terms for a long time and people are amazed at what they don’t know,” says Fellows. “We just need to work together to get that information out to the public the right way.”

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