Re-opening commercial properties at the height of a pandemic needs some serious planning and thought. Recent events have heightened the need for remediation and decontamination of common interior surfaces and the safe disposal of infected materials. Okay so your state has decreed you can re-open for business, but what next?
It really depends on what type of business you’re involved in; primary, secondary, tertiary or quaternary. Are you customer facing and does it involve interaction? Is there an outdoor and indoor aspect to your premises? Are their high use and flow areas within your building, how many staff do you employ and under what circumstances. In the age of COVID-19, there are many factors to consider and it all starts with a robust and honest risk evaluation.
Employers and business owners would do well to seek the services and advice of a professional clean up organization such as those approved by Hazmat Nation though Hazmat Safe, when it comes to the practicalities of re-opening your business and continuing to operate safely. With strategically placed resources across the U.S., Hazmat Safe is an emergency response provider in offering the most comprehensive management of COVID-19 clean up available.
There are also many resources to assist in the prepping for this return to the new normal, but in general the following need to be considered;
- Education of workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Provision of instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
- Development of policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks.
- Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
- Ensuring that workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).
- Compliance with with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030)
- Familiarization with proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE (29 CFR 1910.0132
We all need to understand terms that we used to just let janitorial services deal with. For example, Chemical disinfectants!;
- Chemical disinfectants are regulated by either the U.S. Food and Drink Authority(FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), depending on the intended use of the disinfectant.
- The EPA regulates chemical disinfectants and sanitizers that are used on inanimate objects and hard surfaces (as opposed to those used on humans or critical and semi-critical medical devices) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
- These disinfectants and sanitizers are referred to as “antimicrobial pesticides.” The EPA’s authority over antimicrobial pesticides extends to “general use” disinfectants (e.g., for use in households, swimming pools, water purifiers) and sanitizers for both food-contact products (on sites where consumable food products are placed) and non-food-contact products (e.g., air sanitizers, carpet sanitizers, laundry additives, in-tank toilet bowl sanitizers).
Quite a mouthful to understand and that’s just the beginning. Let’s look at the hospitality industry for a moment. The restaurant trade has suffered perhaps as much as anyone. As restaurants, bars and brewpubs have discontinued in-person dining and drinking, takeout and delivery have become the new normal across the country. But this won’t always be the case, and as states take baby steps back toward some version of normalcy, restaurants and brewpubs will be able to welcome customers back inside their doors.
Customers won’t necessarily be rushing back. Fear of the virus and of the unknown may well keep people at home — even regulars. So what steps can be taken to deliver peace of mind to customers, employees and delivery personnel? Cleaning the premises is an important first step, but routines used before the pandemic are largely obsolete. There’s a new reality and a greater expectation for the elimination of bacteria and viruses throughout your establishment. There is going to be a new normal that customers and staff will expect!
Begin with an honest appraisal of your situation and business continuity plans, this will need to align with local regulations as well as industry standards. This will form the risk assessment document which will allow mitigation procedures to lower the risk;
- Step 1: Identify all hazards, i.e. anything that may cause harm – COVID-19
- Step 2: Decide who may be harmed, where and how.
- Step 3: Assess the risks and take action.
- Step 4: Make a record of the findings.
- Step 5: Review the risk assessment.
A professional cleaning crew should be able to either do this for you or at least assist you to do it in house.
To truly protect customers adequately, a deep clean is frankly the necessary choice. This process should involve a thorough deep cleaning, then sanitizing and disinfecting of every area in the restaurant or bar to which customers or workers have access. It is no longer enough to simply vacuum and use soap and water. A thorough cleaning in the reopening period will require the use of a range of approved cleaning products that provide longer lasting protection against viruses.
Using the example of a restaurant, the back-of-house involves the kitchen and the employee area, while the front-of-house is the main restaurant area, bar, restroom and any other area to which the customers have access. It’s vital to clean both ends equally. The back-of-house is where bacteria and viruses can spread, which makes it essential to clean this area well. The front-of-house is the part of the restaurant your customers see. If you always keep it clean — and your customers see you maintaining it — you’re more likely to have repeated customers since they will trust that your surface cleaning efforts reflect a larger commitment to their health and safety.
Your daily cleaning will need to change in light of COVID-19. It will include the following items that are in direct contact with people every day:
- Clean the walls, cooking appliances and equipment, beverage dispensers, beer taps, tap handles, utensils, sinks, trash cans and floors.
- Wipe down the bar, tables, walls, condiment containers, seats, floors, menus and counters.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the restroom, refill soap dispensers and add toilet paper.
- Vacuum all areas.
- Take out the trash regularly.
Weekly cleaning should focus on the hard-to-reach places and areas requiring a deeper cleanse with disinfectant not just sanitizing as at present.
- Clean the ovens, walls, doors, racks, mats, floor drains, hoods and hood filters, drink fountain nozzles, light fixtures, windows, chair legs and baseboards.
- De-lime faucets and sinks.
- Sanitize refrigerators and freezers.
- Boil out deep fryers.
Monthly cleaning should include the following:
- Clean splashes from walls, the hot line, fridge coils and pest and grease traps.
- Thoroughly clean the coffee machines.
- Deep clean the freezer.
- Deep clean any grease build-up from the kitchen.
- Clean the walls, ceilings and decorations.
While many of these cleaning concepts listed above existed before the COVID-19 global pandemic, now more than ever customers will demand the highest level of cleanliness. Turnkey services from Hazmat Safe, are delivered by trained experts using approved materials, giving your organization the agility to act quickly and effectively to remediate dangerous public health threats. Their training and service methodologies are based on OSHA standards and the highest biosecurity principles and their vetted operators have a lengthy and proven track record of success.
Taking these steps alongside a professional clean up company will go a long way with soothing fears and in the case of our restaurant and bar business – serving food and drink until we find the vaccine for this virus!