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Workplace Safety : Workplace Disinfection

Workplace Disinfection

We often think of COVID-19 as being spread primarily from person to person, however transmission also occurs after touching contaminated surfaces.  According to the CDC, it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.  
Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces can prevent your employees from contracting the virus but those doing the cleaning may also have an increased exposure to the virus.  Cleaning refers to removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces.  Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.  Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces.  This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.  
The following guidelines can go a long way in preventing transmission in your facilities.
• Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning.  If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection
  of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Clean hands immediately after use.
• Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning products used.  Some kill viruses on contact while other may have to sit for several minutes to be effective.
• For disinfection, household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
• For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. 
  After cleaning, launder items as appropriate using the warmest water possible and dry items completely.  Also, use products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that are suitable for porous surfaces.
• When cleaning towels, linens, or clothing, do not shake the items.  This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.  Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other peoples’ items.
• If items to be laundered are kept in a hamper prior to cleaning and disinfecting, consider the use of disposable hamper liners.  Otherwise, the hampers should be cleaned and disinfested using the above guidelines.