The cleaning industry is now more important than ever. In the wake of a global pandemic, it is imperative that employers have a strategic plan to keep their physical workplace locations safe. Employees not only want to feel valued but also want to feel comfortable and safe while returning to work. Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home and considering flexible work arrangements is a proactive approach that is becoming the norm for many companies. Every company must evaluate different factors that are specific to their type of business. Below is a list of suggestions of procedures, protocols, and ideas to enforce in the workplace to keep a higher standard of quality cleaning and safety.
Evaluate Workplace Risks
All employers should conduct risk and hazard assessments for all types of workers and then create plans to address identified hazards. The Risk Assessment Process includes these 5 steps:
- Hazard Identification
- Identify the hazard that is associated with that kind of work. Is there a regulation or code with that kind of hazard?
- Risk Analysis
- Who might be harmed and how?
- Select Control Measures
- Evaluate the risks and decide on appropriate precautions. Will the new control measures pose their own new hazard?
- Implement Control Measures
- Determine the priorities
- Review and Improve
- Is the process working effectively? Are there other ways to improve the process?
OSHA has tools that are a great for Employers to use for hazard identification and assessment.
Identifying Safe Products, Chemicals, and PPE for Specific Cleaning Processes
Safety products for employees is worn to minimize exposure to hazards when working. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes items such as face shield, mask, safety suit and gown, gloves, foot protection (rubber boots), hearing protection (earplugs, muffs), hard hats, etc. Employee’s should always ask about proper PPE in order to get a job done safely. This also includes making sure employees are using the proper chemicals to disinfect and thoroughly clean while safely handling them at the same time. Disinfectants should be EPA approved and must be approved to kill the pathogens you wish to kill. The chemical should be left on the surface for the listed dwell time. Read all product labels before use and if you have any questions, always ask!
Break Room Protocols
The break room is a tricky area to keep clean since all employees are welcome. This area typically has a lot of high touch points and people are not required to wear a mask since they need to eat and drink. Washing your hands before and after you touch anything is a must. Distancing the table and chairs at least 6 feet away is ideal so everyone can feel comfortable while eating. It is also recommended to have plastic or paper products for utensils, cups, and plates so it is easily thrown out and a one-time use. Also, remember to wipe off areas such as refrigerator, microwave buttons, sink handles, and any other common touch points. It’s important to make necessary supplies like tissues, soap, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers readily available for employees to use around the office.
Customer and Visitor Contact
As long as state and local guidelines allow for visitor’s, employers should take appropriate measures to ensure there are protocols when allowing someone to walk into the workplace. Directing customer traffic through the workplace can make employee feel safer because it limits their exposure. Limiting the amount of customer’s in one area, no handshake greetings, and having markers to allow 6 feet of social distancing are other examples to enforce with outside guests. Lastly, using video or telephone conferences instead of in-person meetings and providing contactless delivery of products helps create a sense of ease for employees on a day to day basis.