As businesses adapt to the new normal, workplace safety remains top of mind. For companies ramping up onsite staffing, environmental (aka workplace) cleaning and sanitation will require added attention as we head into fall and winter, when indoor living, cold and flu season and COVID-19 converge.
When it comes to workplaces, the healthcare industry sets the gold standard for environmental cleaning, sanitation and safety. That’s why we spoke with Tristan McKenzie-Leung, Vertical Healthcare Sales Lead at Staples Professional. McKenzie-Leung specializes in the product needs of hospitals, clinics, medical offices and other healthcare settings. Here are five lessons she says Canadian businesses and organizations can use to get their workplaces “healthcare clean.”
LESSON 1: Wash your hands
“Handwashing remains the number one method of COVID-19 prevention,” says McKenzie-Leung, alongside “continuing to wear your face mask indoors and maintaining social distance to limit the spread.”
Workplaces and organizations can ensure handwashing compliance by taking a cue from healthcare settings with ample signage (reminders and how-to instructions), and well-stocked facilities featuring motion-activated, no-touch soap dispensers.
Hand sanitizer should also be provided throughout the workspace to enable on-the-go sanitizing in high-touch surfaces and areas like breakrooms, photocopier/printer areas, elevators and lobbies.
LESSON 2: Know when to sanitize vs disinfect
What is the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting? While they are complementary cleaning protocols, it’s important to know they are not the same thing.
“Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a safe level. What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at a hospital, workplace or school,” says McKenzie-Leung.
For example, the sanitizing procedures for a hospital will be different than at a restaurant.
What you do to sanitize will vary, depending on your needs. “You might be mopping the floor using a mop, a chemical, and water. You might use a dishwasher to sanitize the dishes. Or you could be using an antibacterial wipe on hard surfaces,” she explains. “Sanitizing could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting, or both.”
Consider sanitizing your first step in environmental cleaning: it cuts dirt, grime and residue to make a space look and feel clean.
LESSON 3: Learn how to disinfect
Disinfecting is the second step in environmental cleaning. “Disinfecting uses chemicals (disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Some common disinfectants are bleach and alcohol solutions,” says McKenzie-Leung.
It’s important to note that disinfecting isn’t effective in a dirty environment — you need to clean first, then disinfect to kill remaining germs.
Pro healthcare tip: “It is critical that you leave disinfectant on surfaces for a certain period of time to kill the germs,” says McKenzie-Leung. Always read and follow product instructions for a true disinfection.
LESSON 4: Schedule in extra cleaning duties
While it can be convenient to have an after-hours cleaning crew come through, larger organizations should ramp up scheduling to add an extra daytime shift.
“With new increased capacity guidelines in spaces, many organizations have a daytime porter to do urgent tasks around the facility. They can disinfect high-touch points more regularly, empty waste receptacles and refill soap and sanitizer dispensers,” says McKenzie-Leung. “We are seeing a return to cleaning protocols where disinfection processes are enforced.”
LESSON 5: Help people help themselves to masks and more
Healthcare organizations always have disposable masks available to the public, patients and staff. “Giving a person the option to have a clean mask when entering facilities provides peace of mind to the staff and the visitor,” says McKenzie-Leung.
While mask use remains optional in most Canadian workplaces, having them available promotes their use. Likewise, having sanitizing stations for public and private areas of the organization reminds people to sanitize.
In short: help your teams help themselves.
Staples Professional can help your organization with environmental cleaning and PPE solutions tailored to your needs. Learn more and find out how you can become a customer.