10 Things We Know About Cleaning COVID-19 in Buildings
SELECT Restoration Services has been providing Coronavirus cleaning services since the pandemic first appeared in Canadian workplaces. Based on our remediation experience together with the rapidly changing landscape around the spread of COVID-19, we want to share some of what we have learned with you.
As the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak develops, we strongly encourage our customers, vendors and employees to check often for updates from authoritative sources, including:
1. We Identify High Frequency Touch Points
Diligently identifying these "high frequency touch points is best accomplished through an interview, or by observing actual building use activities. Building usage activity can vary depending on type of building, type of operation, the time of day and occupant loading. The focus of any preemptive cleaning or emergency disinfection is to identify the areas and surfaces that people have frequent contact with.
2. What is the Surface Viability of COVID-19
The actual viability of SARS-CoV-2 under normal indoor environmental conditions, is expected to be much shorter, likely in the scale of hours to days. Research and related news articles indicating that SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid (RNA) can be detected for 4 days on stainless steel or 17 days in a cruise ship cabin is misleading. RNA is the “DNA” of a virus, and a component of the molecular structure that can remain intact long after it is no longer considered infectious. Archaeologists keep finding dinosaur bones, that doesn’t mean that they still roam the earth! More research and expert opinions in this area are needed for greater certainty.
3. We Clean Efficiently and Within Reason
It is important that decision-makers and cleaning contractors alike are aware of the objectives of the cleaning process to understand the value of the work performed. It is not necessary for us to clean every square inch of a building. We may only need to clean high frequency touch points, as these surfaces are most likely to be a vector for transmission. Thorough, but pragmatic scope development is important to save our clients’ time and money. We’ve found that by evaluating where an affected individual worked in a building, we can delineate the cleaning process into higher and lower risk zones, thus saving time and reducing costs.
4. A Combination of Cleaning and Fogging is Best
The MSDS and product spec sheets for most of the disinfectant products suitable for electrostatic fogging indicate the cleaning and removal of any residues is necessary to reduce any potential exposure to occupants. Visible residues left behind after the disinfectant dries are not representative of “clean”, and can result in occupant concerns and perception issues. Electrostatic fogging is not a replacement for manual cleaning of surfaces. It is important to thoroughly apply disinfectant to surfaces and for those surfaces to remain wetted for the prescribed contact time (typically 10 minutes) in order for the cleaning process to be effective. If a fogger is a helpful tool in meeting these cleaning objectives, and it can be used safely, then we will use one.
5. Suitable Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19
In general, where a product specifically approved for COVID-19 is not available look for a disinfectant with Health Canada Drug Identification Number (DIN), which is referred to as a “broad spectrum virucide” or with a specific claim related to effectiveness against Coronaviruses. A “broad spectrum virucide” will make claims to kill non-enveloped viruses including Adenovirus type 5, Bovine Parvovirus, Canine Parvovirus, and Poliovirus type 1. The list of products approved specifically for COVID-19 cleanup, on the Health Canada website, is limited. The products that we have available are typically not on this list, but MSDS or product spec sheets will be provided at the request of our customers.
6. A Framework for Re-occupancy and the "New Normal"
When the spread of the virus decreases to a rate where public health restrictions are loosened and employees resume occupancy of buildings, we will not be returning to workplaces as we knew them. Aspects of health surveillance, physical distancing, scheduled occupancy, personal hygiene and pro-active cleaning will likely be implemented and documented for several months. Communication and awareness of these new requirements will be essential to keeping building occupants healthy and safe. SELECT Restoration Services is currently developing a framework, process and disinfection programs and packages to support re-occupancy of buildings in this new reality.
7. Our Agile Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Understanding how occupants interact with the building environment, public health requirements, proper cleaning and health screening are critical. Managing the risk of COVID-19 in buildings is a dynamic task. Figuring out how to organize all these requirements requires knowledge of COVID-19 risk factors, as well as the specific building and occupant’s usage patterns. All of these factors have been changing rapidly and require an agile approach to implementation.
8. We're Not Your Everyday Janitorial Company, We're Better
Where a confirmed case of COVID-19 is present PPE is important to protect workers. Should you choose to have your regular cleaning staff undertake this work they may need additional support with respirator fit testing and other protective measures involved with COVID-19 remediation. Property management firms are often relying on their base building cleaning companies to undertake COVID-19 cleanup work. In some ways this makes lots of sense as these cleaners are often very familiar with the building, however in our view they do not have the necessarily experience, training, or PPE that a professional restoration company would have.
9. Why You Need a Professional Remediation and Cleaning Company
It is important to have discussions with your COVID-19 response team partners to ensure that your risks and liability are adequately covered. Commercial insurance for pandemic and COVID-19 response work has proven to be hard to obtain. Prior to entering a contractual agreement with vendors for consulting or cleaning services, it is important to understand the insurance coverage, terms and conditions and indemnities for COVID-19 related work. Vendors who perhaps you have relied on in the past for janitorial cleaning, building restoration or consulting services, may not have the required coverages to pursue this type of work. We do.
10. Cleaning Effectiveness Verification
For best cleaning results, hire a qualified person to scope the work, a qualified contractor to execute it, and a third party to oversee the work and make sure it’s done properly, using the proper PPE, products, and techniques. Total bacteria and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) sampling can be conducted as an indicator of cleaning effectiveness. However, it does not offer any technical assurances that SARS-CoV-2 is no longer present on a surface. The most effective way to validate that the cleaning is completed to a high standard, is to engage a qualified professional to perform the work. At this time, resources for commercial SARS-CoV-2 testing are very limited.
Toronto COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection Service
At SELECT Restoration Services we are available to support essential service providers, facility managers, property managers and the insurance industry at large in effectively managing COVID-19 in buildings. Our objectives as a professional cleaning and remediation company are to maintain building operations, respond to incidents, communicate with stake holders, and get you back to business as quickly as possible.
For further information on how we can help you and your business during this time, please contact SELECT Restoration Services or call us toll-free at 1-833-24EMERG (243-6374).
We are all in this together.