With cleaning and hygiene having never been so important, and with businesses still getting back on their feet, Kimberly-Clark Professional has partnered with the UK’s leading training body – The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) – to bring best practice now that everyone has a role to play supporting the cleanliness and the prevention of spreading infection in the ‘new normal’.
Whilst the role of the cleaning operative remains key, certainly with far more focus than pre-pandemic, it is now more vital that robust training programmes are effectively cascaded through the cleaning workforce – and even to all staff.
BICSc states that as an absolute minimum cleaning operative should be trained in the following:
1. Chemical competence to ensure operatives have an understanding of the correct dilution and use of the chemical range available to them. Of importance currently is to understand the correct dilution for the disinfectants and the time they need to be active on the surfaces for the maximum germ kill rate.
2. Safe assembly and care of equipment for comprehension of the safety checks applicable for each piece of equipment they need to use in the execution of duties.
3. Best practice on keeping storage areas safe and clean to minimise the risks of cross-contamination.
4. Additionally, to meet the challenges they currently face they will need the following knowledge.
- To use the correct wipe for the specific task and ensure the correct product is used for the surface they are cleaning.
- To use systematic overlapping wiping actions so that all the surface area is efficiently and effectively cleaned removing soilage and bacteria.
- To change the wipe when all surfaces have been used, or it has been contaminated to prevent spreading infection.
- To clean from the cleanest areas to the dirtiest to minimise cross-contamination.
BICSs explains that best practice is to apply the cleaning product from dirty to clean areas to allow the greatest contact time to kill bacteria. The areas are then cleaned from those least contaminated to those more heavily so, as shown in the picture below.
The disinfectant would be applied from point 9 – the toilet to point 1 – the door, providing the recommended contact time. The operative then commences cleaning from the least contaminated area 1-the door, working to the toilet cubicle area with the toilet itself number 9 being the final piece of furniture to be cleaned.
BICSc strongly recommends paying particular attention to key touchpoints, these may vary dependant on the facility. In general office facilities, the key touchpoints include but are not limited to the areas that follow:
- Door furniture
- Lift control panels
- Photocopier control panels
- Kitchenette equipment – kettles, fridge handles, taps, drink containers
- Washrooms – door handles, flush mechanisms, taps, soap dispensers and waste bin lids
By folding a wipe correctly this can stop you coming into direct contact with multiple surfaces and help to contain any infection safely. BICSc recommends folding a cloth to provide eight workable surfaces. This means that potentially eight different surfaces can be cleaned without the risk of contamination, keeping both cleaning staff and employees safe from infection.
For office users, there will also be significant changes on returning to the workplace. Initially, we will need to differentiate between our personal space and the spaces that we share, as these will carry different levels of risk. Additionally, this will depend on both the building itself and the number of people that we work alongside – this is likely to be a very different model on our return to work than that we left behind in March!
Our personal space can be categorised as the area that only we have direct contact with, our desk, pedestal, drawers and chair. Remember the key touchpoints in your own workspace though, telephones, keyboards, computers, calculators. Make sure to be clear – are these dedicated to your personal workspace or shared?
The use of the correct wipe with a suitable viricidal product can ensure these items remain safe and infection-free. Providing quality cleaning products for staff to use is therefore essential. The occupiers should be made aware of the importance of good handwashing techniques and the cleaning and disinfection of items that they frequently use to minimise any risk.
There is however far more shared workspace – such as reception, the stairway, lift, corridors, meeting rooms, washrooms and kitchenette. If you think for a moment how many contact points you would touch just on the way to your desk? The new normal will see less dense population of these areas. However, key contact points are still the areas of greatest risk for the transmission of bacteria. Everyone must be aware of this.
Whilst personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a role in minimising infection, equally an efficiently and effectively cleaned workplace is key to breaking the chain of infection. Remember if you are wearing gloves, the surface of these could be contaminated and this could then be spread as you move through the building.
There is no need for huge investment but rather look at utilising products that you already have. The placement of a hand towel dispenser in the entrance areas would give easy access to a paper towel to protect users from potential contamination on surfaces. Also, providing disposable paper towels or wipes, with the correct disinfectant spray for people to clean shared surfaces protecting themselves and others.
So, as multiple additional cleaning operatives will not be feasible for most, how can building users stay safe?
Point 1 – be aware of the key touchpoints in your workplace, particularly in shared areas and support the cleaning protocols in place
Point 2 – ensure where possible that efficient hand washing is carried out after contact with these key points, remember drying your hands thoroughly is an important factor for infection prevention – a paper towel can remove some of the bacteria that could remain after hand washing by its abrasive action.1
Point 3 – use a tissue, paper towel or wipe as a barrier between these common touchpoints and skin contact to prevent spreading contamination
BICSc summarises that the most important point to remember for everyone, not just the cleaning team – is that everyone must play their part. We must all take responsibility by following simple steps to prevent the spread of contamination. With this, it has never been more essential to provide the right cleaning and hygiene products, along with signage and communication tools to educate workers how to use them correctly and safely.
For more advice and support visit the 360 degree Workplace Hygiene & Protection website from Kimberly-Clark Professional by clicking here. You can book a free Virtual Hygiene Walk with an expert and they will take you through your own workplace identifying critical hotspots and the right hand hygiene and surface hygiene products to protect your staff, customers and visitors.