When workers return from the COVID-19 lock-down, there will need to be a whole new hygiene consideration. Social distancing will, no doubt, need to be maintained and a rigorous hand and surface sanitising program will need to be in place.
The following are some key points to consider;
Washing and Sanitising Hands
Washing or Sanitising your hands has been a key recommendation right from the start of this current crisis and this is the key point here. Obviously we don't have wash-hand-basins everywhere, apart from washrooms, so the use of Alcohol Hand Sanitiser is essential. Ideally there should be Sanitiser available at each work station and wall mounted dispensers are the best as the table-top-bottles tend to go missing.
The best option on wall mounted dispensers is a refillable type rather than a cartridge system. The big-name cartridge systems like Deb and Purrell are best avoided as it is now almost impossible to get stock of these cartridges unless you are the NHS, whereas if you get the refillable type you can buy 5 litres of Hand Sanitiser from whoever has got it in stock.
An excellent idea is to have a free standing Hand Sanitising dispenser at the entrance of your workspace, this way everyone entering the premises can sanitise their hands before touching anything.
Wherever you have hand washing facilities make sure you have a ready supply of hand soap. It doesn't actually matter if it is Antibac or not, although using Antibac soap will make your staff feel as if you are going the extra mile for them. Again, best avoid the big-name cartridges and go for the refillable dispensers, you are more likely to get supply of soap. If you have hand dryers, switch them off and provide hand towels. Having hot air blasting around the washroom is not a good idea with the Coronavirus lurking.
One good idea is to use table top hand towel dispenser sitting on top of you hand dryers (that is, if they have a flat top).
There are some interesting studies regarding the most hygienic way of drying hands after washing. This Mayo Clinic article is much quoted and this NHS report is very balanced. It is clear from the studies that drying hands with paper towels is the preferred method and who wouldn't want to use the best method for their staff in these critical times.
Cleaning and Sanitising Surfaces
To give context we start with a quote from the World Health Organisation (WHO) "The most important thing to know about coronavirus on surfaces is that they can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants that will kill the virus. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard"
Surface cleaning and sanitising is clearly very key to keeping your staff safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19.
The "common household disinfectants that will kill the virus" may be a bit misleading because a lot of "common household disinfectants" are not effective against Viruses. You need to use something that is tested to EN 14476 & EN 14675. Eliminator Max is a good example. You will want to ensure you are really sanitising your work surfaces for any possible viruses, don't make the mistake this company did.
So, once you have the right product, how do you go about sanitising your work surfaces?
The key thing here is the surfaces that are regularly touched by staff and visitors. This can be a mammoth task as this could, potentially, be a lot of surfaces.
Regular sanitising of touch points such as door handles are best achieved by using a Virus killing wipe such as Uniwipes Clinical Wipes.
Helping staff and visitors maintain social distancing
This is, no doubt, the most challenging point. How do you keep everyone 2 metres apart? Shared offices often having people sitting much closer than 2 metres.
One way of maintaining social distancing (we did this in our main office) is to have some staff working from home and space the remaining staff out so that they are at least 2 metres apart.
Another idea is erect screens between staff, this is something being looked at for schools where the actual distance may not be achievable.
Also, you could give staff, that are dealing with visitors face to face, a Hi Vis vest with a clear printed message asking them to stay 2 metres away.
Another good idea is to mark the floor with 2 metre markers in places where people are likely to congregate, the water fountain for instance.
You will have to keep reminding everyone about social distancing. Refer to it in company emails and news letters. The trouble is we quickly forget once we are back at work.
In some circumstances, disposable gloves are a good option, allowing staff to protect their hands without constant washing or Sanitising.
Face visors and mouth covering surgical masks are a good way of offering that extra protection for your staff that have to have face to face contact with others.
Both have an undeniable benefit in protecting both the wearer and those they come in contact with. If the 2 metre distance is not possible then this is a good alternative.
It's a difficult time. Returning to work or maybe you have been at work all along, like I have, as an essential worker, it is difficult and we have to accept that life will not be the same any time soon. So we need to take measures, make sure;