Is your custodial cleaning checklist ready for the future?
In late February, just as COVID-19 was making its way across Europe and beginning its spread in the U.S., Hong Kong was relaxing social restrictions. As one of the first parts of the world to experience the epidemic and one of the most successful in containing it, officials believed they had the virus under control.
Then in March, as universities and businesses around the globe shut down, students and residents of Hong Kong returned to their homes, bringing the second wave of COVID-19 with them.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., efforts to subdue the virus escalated, even as the number of cases increased. Through it all, janitorial teams have been on the front lines, using everything from space-age disinfecting equipment to a good old-fashioned custodial cleaning checklist to help control the spread of this virus.
We all know, however, that it is hard to keep up the energy that this kind of experience necessitates day after day and week after week. Over time, it’s natural to relax a little, and we may inadvertently overlook small precautions, which grow gradually into skipping larger items on our lists.
We can’t risk letting our guard down.
In Hong Kong, the second wave of COVID-19 came so quickly after the first that they didn’t have much time to let their guard down. Officials had all the preventative measures still in place, and they seem to have limited the effects of the virus.
For those of us in the U.S., however, that second wave may not come until fall or winter, giving us plenty of time to “forget” what we’ve been learning since March. For that matter, many parts of the country have been largely spared from the devastating effects of the virus, at least from a health perspective.
This is why, now more than ever, a custodial cleaning checklist as part of your overall emergency plan is paramount. We know that time is critical in stopping the spread of an epidemic like this, and the more you can prepare the better off everyone will be when the time comes to put that planning into action.
Keep up with your supplies, schedules, and all your custodial cleaning checklist with Janitorial Manager. Get in touch today for a free, no-obligation demo and learn how it works.
What a second wave of COVID-19 means for your custodial crew
At the risk of being the bearer of bad news, let’s start with some of the latest information regarding the second wave of COVID-19.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn both stress that a second wave is not only likely but “could be worse than the current outbreak.” Dr. Greg Poland, an infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic, fears that a second wave of the virus could strain health care systems if it resurges in conjunction with the seasonal flu.
A group of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Duke University, Sheffield University, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals recently distributed a paper detailing COVID-19’s increasing ability to spread due to mutations.
And doctors at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota believe the COVID-19 pandemic will last 18-24 months, in part because people can spread the virus for days before the onset of any symptoms. They go on to propose several scenarios based on the patterns of eight major pandemics dating back to the early 1700s.
In one case, it’s possible that we can expect consistent small waves over a 1- to 2-year period. A second likely scenario is that the current wave is followed by a more significant surge in the fall or winter with several smaller subsequent waves. The third possibility is a “slow burn” of cases that don’t have a clear pattern but do include geographically-isolated hot spots.
Whichever case plays out, “we must be prepared for at least another 18 to 24 months of significant COVID-19 activity.”
What does all that mean for your building operations and your custodial crew?
Updating your custodial cleaning checklist to withstand a COVID-19 resurgence
As people start to return to jobs, schools, shopping centers, and other public spaces, the job of your building’s janitorial and maintenance crew is going to be more detailed than ever. Deep cleaning is always great, but buildings that have been empty for weeks aren’t likely to harbor a virus. Once people start moving through, however, every surface has the potential to become contaminated. Your HVAC system could push contaminated air through the building. And even if you clean every day, that doesn’t prevent a surface from future contaminations.
A custodial cleaning checklist is one of the only ways you can guarantee your building gets cleaned and disinfected the way it needs to be. This isn’t to say your team won’t do a thorough job, but a checklist gives even the most experienced crew a safeguard so nothing gets left out.
1. Use the right disinfecting agent.
(The EPA maintains a list of disinfectants that meet the criteria “for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.” The list includes active ingredient names, product names, and contact times.)
2. Use gloves.
The Boston Public Health Commission points out that “gloves protect you from exposure to the virus and to the cleaning chemicals.”
3. Use Personal Protective Equipment when necessary.
4. Open outside doors and windows as much as possible to increase air circulation.
5. Ensure all restrooms have soap and paper towels.
Hand washing is one of the single most effective ways to reduce the spread of this and any other virus.
6. Clean surfaces regularly.
General guidance from the CDC suggests cleaning these surfaces at least once daily, but the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) recommends cleaning fire stations twice per shift. So you may need to consider the level of traffic in your facility and especially the particulars of your situation.
- Light switches
- Stair railings
- Elevator buttons
- Printers and copiers
- Chairs in common areas
- Coffee makers
- Cabinet handles
- Refrigerator handles
- Microwave buttons and door handle
- Faucet handles
- Vending machine buttons and dispensing area
- Drinking fountains
- Shared desktops
- Remote controls
- Bathroom taps
- Soap dispensers
- Trash bin touchpoints
- Shared touchscreens
Additional resources regarding cleaning guidelines and precautions are available from the CDC and from your state’s Department of Health. When the second wave comes, make sure you are ready.
Make sure your cleaning team has the information they need to complete their job accurately and thoroughly. Implementing a janitorial software like Janitorial Manager can effectively transform your cleaning operation!