In 2020, coronavirus changed the way cleaners were viewed by the public and private sector worldwide. While cleaners have always been important, Covid-19 made it clear that they are essential workers.
Proper sanitation and cleaning regimes have been fundamental to combating the spread of the virus. They helped to keep workplaces and public areas safe from the threat of travelling pathogens. And they gave organisations and the public added confidence to carry out operations – to some degree – despite national lockdowns.
Even as vaccinations roll out and restrictions continue to ease, the importance of cleaners going forward cannot be understated.
Ongoing regular cleaning, along with specialised cleaning for cases of infection, will continue to be essential to protecting assets and reducing risk. And legislators and businesses alike recognise this.
Improved delivery, flexibility, and the ability to demonstrate training will be of utmost importance in the cleaning sector. Accountability for cleaning will ensure businesses and their customers that guidelines for safety and compliance are being met. After all, if you cannot demonstrate that you did it, then it didn’t happen.
How Cleaning Stops the Spread of Coronavirus
It’s been clear from the start of the pandemic that the virus is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person, and through contact with respiratory droplets.
People can also get infected from touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. It’s proven that the virus can cling to surfaces where it is able to survive from anywhere from a couple of hours to days.
This is where the role of cleaning comes in. Since COVID-19 can be killed with regular disinfectant, regular cleaning limits the transmission of the virus.
According to current government guidance, cleaning should be frequent and rigorous. At a minimum, frequently touched surfaces should be wiped down twice – at the start and end of each working day.
The frequency of cleaning should be based on the level risk involved. For instance, if people are frequently passing through the space and there is limited access to hygiene facilities regimes must be more rigorous.
What Are The Legal Requirements Regarding Businesses & Cleaning Regimes?
The legal requirements surrounding coronavirus haven’t changed. It is the responsibility of employers to protect employees from harm. In addition to conventional health and safety, this includes taking reasonable steps to protect workers and others from COVID-19.
Businesses must regularly conduct and updated risk assessments addressing the threat of coronavirus spreading on their premises or due to any operations.
The risk assessment should:
- Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
- Think about who could be at risk
- Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
- Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
It’s important to keep in mind that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and may suffer a more adverse outcome if infected. You should consider all of this when putting together your risk assessment.
This risk assessment should determine controls to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. This will include regular cleaning, sufficient training to staff to understand the risks involved, and measures to respond to a case of infection in the workplace.
Employers must ensure that they have provided basic training for cleaners to ensure they understand their roles and how to perform them.
What Happens If Someone Becomes Infected with COVID-19 at Work?
An employee or site visitor having COVID-19 on your premises is unfortunately entirely plausible scenario. But one that every business must be prepared for. If someone does test positive for the coronavirus, they should immediately stay home and self-isolate.
In the workplace, public areas where the infected person has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, should be cleaned thoroughly as normal.
Any surface of which a potentially infected person has come into contact with must be cleaned, and then disinfected. This should include all major touch points, such as handles, railings, and doors.
Those conducting this cleaning must have sufficient equipment and training to do this properly.
Risk Controls & the Future of Coronavirus
While the pandemic has continued for more than a year, the future is beginning to look hopeful. The vaccination rate worldwide is on the rise, and measures to return businesses to normal operations are in place. However, this doesn’t mean that we can be complacent when it comes to COVID-19 prevention.
Even with a vaccinated population, the threat of infection and widespread transmission remains high. As borders open and more people travel and gather for work and leisure, opportunities for the virus and its variants to spread will increase.
In addition to rapid testing and large-scale vaccination campaigns, stringent cleaning regimes will continue to be vital.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 must be at the forefront of every business’ operational strategy. Measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus will reduce liability. It will help to prevent costly breaks in operations and protect the businesses reputation.
Sick employees can not only negatively affect a company’s productivity, but in the worst-case scenario, a negligible employer with an infected workforce faces serious lawsuits, fines from the government, a damaged reputation, and a massive loss of business.
Education Technology: A Powerful Asset
Employers must not only have the appropriate cleaning and prevention measures in place, they must also prove that they are being implemented. As such, education technology will be a powerful asset going forward.
Online training can be provided in any setting, ensuring that cleaners understand the latest guidance to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, this training provided is standardised. This means employers can be confident it’s the highest industry standard.
E-learning modules can also be easily translated across multiple languages, which is essential in a sector that includes many non-native speakers. This will ensure that the relevant training is understood.
But most importantly, online learning is demonstrable. E-learning systems track and maintain records of who undertook the training, what training that was provided, and when it occurred. Certifications of completion provide proof that trainees have completed the training and are competent.
Along with online training, many e-learning providers provide tools to further demonstrate compliance. E-checklists can be used as a daily reminder to staff to complete the necessary steps to stop the spread of the virus. They also provide evidence that these control measures are implemented on a daily or weekly basis.
These added layers of accountability will be in high demand, across the cleaning industry. Businesses recovering from the pandemic and looking to build confidence among their staff and client bases will expect nothing less.
Where Can I Find Comprehensive Health and Safety Training for Cleaners?
Human Focus offers a number of health and safety training courses specifically aimed at helping employers and employees understand infection control measures, keep their work environments clean, and protect themselves and their colleagues.
The Deep Cleaning For Suspected Workplace Infections of Coronavirus course, for example, offers necessary guidance to cleaners responsible for deep cleaning. While the Daily Cleaning for Coronavirus Infection Control training, teaches trainees how to maintain general workplace cleanliness.
These courses can be completed remotely so that when cleaners are ready to come back to work, they are fully and effectively trained. In addition, HumanFocus’s e-learning systems provide training tracking for evidence that compliance has been carried out and adhered to.
Human Focus e-checklists is a critical tool for implementing cleaning regimes while minimizing human error. In this way, cleaning liability can be drastically reduced with the use of quality reporting.