The cleaning industry has adapted to changes brought on by the pandemic, with a focus on preventing Covid-19 and using the most effective methods and equipment to do so.
This is easier said than done, but with so many new technologies being adopted and developed, there surely is a lot to learn and consider in helping meet your facilities maintenance goals.
Preventing Covid-19 is an on-going worldwide issue. It’s changed the way we think about everyday routines, travel plans, working, the way we do business and much more. The same goes for total facilities maintenance businesses, which have undoubtedly seen a rise in demand for their services in light of the pandemic. Covid-19 changed the cleaning industry and heightened the expectations for their services. All this while cleaning, disinfecting, and regulations seem to change at the drop of a hat. It’s hard to decipher all the continually emerging information about the spread of the virus.
Along the way, there has been plenty of confusion and controversy regarding what really works for preventing covid-19. A large focus has been on new technology and streamlining methods for controlling airborne transmission, which will be the focus here.
Having a facility response plan may be the new normal, and surely some cleaning equipment and procedures have improved to make the task of preventing covid-19 more effective. We’re not saying your facility is out-of-date, it’s just important to consider new methods and technology – such as UV robots or foggers, that a facility maintenance team may incorporate should you choose to hire one.
Don’t we all want the latest technology? Don’t we all want efficiency to be maximized across all aspects of your facility while also preventing covid-19? Read on to find out about different methods and equipment that will help do so.
Proper Equipment to Help in Preventing Covid-19
It’s obvious we’ve all needed help and guidelines to navigate the pandemic. We’re still adapting and facing a ‘new normal’ in many industries as well as daily life. Best practices and proper cleaning and disinfection protocols for preventing covid-19 seem to change on the daily. Before we dive into describing specific methods, remember to always use registered and approved chemicals for disinfection. Since a disinfectant’s effectiveness and safety can change based on how it’s used, it’s best to take time to review and always follow directions.
Preventing Covid-19 Begins with Understanding Transmission
Everyone is happy to see restrictions slowly lifting, and this means many employees will return to an office setting. This creates the demand for a safe and healthy work environment as we all continue to navigate through the pandemic. At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the emphasis was more about surface disinfection – think hand sanitizers and wiping high traffic use areas. As the virus was studied more, scientific findings revealed that airborne transmission was a key player for the spread and therefore an important aspect to consider for the development of covid-19 prevention methods. Remember that viruses have many avenues of transmission and due diligence in all aspects remains important. The three main modes that covid-19 spreads are surface touch, aerosol inhalation and drop spray. It’s clear that focusing on just one is not enough in the fight towards preventing covid-19. However, there may be one control method that could take the lead in your total facility maintenance plan, it just depends on the needs of your facility or business.
Why is Facility Maintenance Important?
Companies and businesses need a total facility maintenance plan that prepares for all the possible modes of transmission. This will require various strategies, equipment, and procedures. The airborne transmission mode is a tricky one. Why? You simply can’t tell when you are sharing the room with someone who is contagious with covid-19, so it’s crucial to have proper ventilation in place that is monitored around the clock to make sure the systems are filtering the air continuously.
Indoor spaces provide a higher risk of transmission for this reason. If the air isn’t effectively filtered, the aerosols that people naturally expel while breathing, talking, coughing, and sneezing are going to stick around for longer. Besides improving overall ventilation (exhaust fans, open windows, cross ventilation), you also need methods in place to clean the air. Sounds odd, but these technologies have already existed for some time now, but their use has expanded as per the demands of the pandemic. Companies that only ever included surface cleaning in their facility maintenance may now be required to consider others, such as methods for preventing airborne transmission.
If you think you can tackle airborne disease transmission on your own, consider that this is a highly skilled procedure that only highly trained professionals can carry out. At TEAM Group, our highly trained employees are committed to working alongside you to create a total facility maintenance plan that includes setting up and monitoring your ventilation systems no matter how big or small.
Methods for Preventing Covid-19 Airborne Transmission
We know that preventing covid-19 requires clean surfaces and clean air. If you want to truly disinfect (and not just sanitize – which simply reduces the amount of a virus on the surface), you need a deep clean. Let’s go through some methods that are currently being used for preventing covid-19 transmission in the air, so you can begin to see how to effectively adopt these for your facilities maintenance procedures.
How does Fogging Work to Prevent Covid-19?
The fogging method uses a device to aerosolize chemicals, meaning the machine suspends chemicals in the air which then disinfect the surroundings and surfaces they come in contact with. This should only be done by hired professionals since the chemicals can irritate the eyes, skin or airways of people who inhale this air. Handling the chemicals and equipment takes special care as well. This procedure should only ever be done in an unoccupied space and should not be done in spaces where food is prepared or stored. The fogging method would be most practical in a confined area – such as an office/cubicle or a patient hospital bed – where a confirmed case of covid-19 was located, and quick disinfection and turnaround is required.
Fogging Versus Spraying
There are situational applications for covid-19 cleaning procedures. While both fogging and spraying can be effective cleaning methods, it’s important to understand when and where each method should be applied. Fogging, for example, is more appropriate for office environments since it doesn’t leave surfaces wet – this allows employees and customers to resume their operations without interruption. Misting/Spraying, on the other hand, can be effectively utilized in larger factory settings to tackle large surface areas such as walls and sinks.
Wet foggers/misters suspend droplets ranging from 25-100 microns and are typically used in professional applications. Ultra-low volume (UVL) foggers suspend droplets of a smaller size, between 8-15 microns and are typically used in pest control or hard to reach areas such as crawl spaces. There are other types including pressure regulated foggers, aerosol foggers and vaporized hydrogen peroxide foggers that have various applications, models and of course proper use and handling. Remember that only highly trained professionals should handle these machines and chemicals.
Spray it and forget it?
Not so fast. Simply fogging an area with a disinfectant agent is not enough. In fact, fogging alone could be a violation of federal law. Since fogging an area with disinfectant alone does not meet EPA requirements, there is additional prep that needs to be done beforehand! The chemicals involved in fogging will work optimally if the surface is cleaned with a mixture of soap/detergent and water first. This allows the chemicals to bond better to the surfaces, thus getting the maximum effectiveness out of the detergents. Without proper pre-cleaning, simply fogging the air gives a false sense of preventing covid-19. It may not be a surprise that fogging hasn’t been declared the most effective method for preventing covid-19 since as a stand-alone method it does not actually clean the infected surface.
How does Electrostatic Disinfection Work to Prevent Covid-19?
Electrostatic disinfection is another method to disinfect airborne viruses that creates an electrostatic charge in the air that clings to surfaces. This is though to be more effective than fogging because areas are more thoroughly covered. In fogging, only the areas where vapour/mist land on are disinfected. This isn’t your easy way out – remember that just as with fogging to be most effective, surfaces also need to be cleaned of dirt before electrostatic disinfection can take place.
UV Disinfecting Robots
The use of UV disinfecting robots for preventing covid-19 is a new trend brought on by the pandemic and resulting shortages in chemicals and disinfectants. Though largely in the research phase, the use of UV disinfecting robots holds promise for industrial settings such as hospitals. UV-C radiation is the most used technology, but all types offer a non-touch application without the need for removal or dirt of biological material. UV-C light can kill bacteria, spores, fungus and viruses at a wavelength of about 254 nm.
In simple terms, the UV light is intense enough to kill microorganisms such as a virus without the need to prep surfaces. This removes the need for cleaners to physically touch any surfaces at all during the cleaning process, which is advantageous in limiting the spread of covid-19. However, just as with anything, the technology has its limitations: the further away an area is from the light or if it is obstructed or inaccessible to receiving light, the more reduced the disinfection will be. The use of UV disinfecting robots is still being researched although the technology appears effective and promising.
What Should I do to Guarantee a Deep Clean?
Don’t just rely on one method for preventing covid-19. The different avenues of transmission require their own set of procedures and equipment – which could include the use of foggers and / or UV light disinfection. If you partner with a total facility maintenance company such as TEAM Group, we can help set up the correct procedures, ensuring top efficiency and safety for your business as we continue to navigate the ever-changing pandemic and it’s demands for cleaning services.