Having a comprehensive decontamination plan for any worksite is extremely important. To avoid exposing employees and other people, decontamination needs to be taken very seriously. Following guidelines set by the CDC and other organizations is a way to keep everyone healthy and avoid breaking laws regarding worksite cleanliness.
Evaluate your workplace, school, home, or business to determine what kinds of surfaces and materials make up that area. Most surfaces and objects will just need normal routine cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and doorknobs will need to be cleaned and then disinfected to further reduce the risk of germs on surfaces and objects.
First, clean the surface or object with soap and water.
Then, disinfect using an EPA-approved disinfectant.
If an EPA-approved disinfectant is unavailable, you can use 1/3 cup of 5.25%–8.25% bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions to disinfect. Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together. Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
You should also consider what items can be moved or removed completely to reduce frequent handling or contact from multiple people. Soft and porous materials, such as area rugs and seating, may be removed or stored to reduce the challenges with cleaning and disinfecting them.
It is critical that your plan includes how to maintain a cleaning and disinfecting strategy after opening. Develop a flexible plan with your staff or family, adjusting the plan as federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local guidance is updated and if your specific circumstances change.
Have a List for Everything that Needs to be Decontaminated
Some surfaces only need to be cleaned with soap and water. For example, surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched should be cleaned and do not require additional disinfection. Additionally, disinfectants should typically not be applied on items used by children, especially any items that children might put in their mouths. Many disinfectants are toxic when swallowed. In a household setting, cleaning toys and other items used by children with soap and water is usually sufficient. Find more information on cleaning and disinfection toys and other surfaces in the childcare program setting at CDC’s Guidance for Childcare Programs that Remain Open.
These questions will help you decide which surfaces and objects will need normal routine cleaning.
Map the Decontamination Area
Outdoor areas generally require normal routine cleaning and do not require disinfection. Spraying disinfectant on sidewalks and in parks is not an efficient use of disinfectant supplies and has not been proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public. You should maintain existing cleaning and hygiene practices for outdoor areas.
The targeted use of disinfectants can be done effectively, efficiently and safely on outdoor hard surfaces and objects frequently touched by multiple people. Certain outdoor areas and facilities, such as bars and restaurants, may have additional requirements.
There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread directly to humans from water in pools, hot tubs or spas, or water play areas. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (for example, with chlorine or bromine) of pools, hot tubs or spas, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there are additional concerns with outdoor areas that may be maintained less frequently, including playgrounds, or other facilities located within local, state, or national parks. For more information, visit CDC’s website on Visiting Parks & Recreational Facilities.
Determine Social Activity on the Site
If your workplace has been unoccupied for 7 days or more, it will only need your normal routine cleaning to open the area. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.
There are many public health considerations, not just COVID-19 related, when opening public buildings and spaces that have been closed for extended periods. For example, take measures to ensure the safety of your building water system. It is not necessary to clean ventilation systems, other than routine maintenance, as part of reducing risk of corona viruses. For healthcare facilities, additional guidance is provided on CDC’s Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.
Devise a Decontamination Plan and Follow it
Following your normal routine cleaning, you can disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects using a product from EPA’s list of approved products that are effective against COVID-19.
These questions will help you choose appropriate disinfectants.
Are you cleaning or disinfecting a hard and non-porous material or item like glass, metal, or plastic?
Consult EPA’s list of approved products for use against COVID-19. This list will help you determine the most appropriate disinfectant for the surface or object. You can use diluted household bleach solutions if appropriate for the surface. Pay special attention to the personal protective equipment (PPE) that may be needed to safely apply the disinfectant and the manufacturer’s recommendations concerning any additional hazards. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children. Please visit CDC’s website on How to Clean and Disinfect for additional details and warnings.
Take Care When Decontaminating Common Surfaces
Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection following opening are:
- light switches
- faucets and sinks
- gas pump handles
- touch screens
- ATM machines
Each business or facility will have different surfaces and objects that are frequently touched by multiple people. Appropriately disinfect these surfaces and objects. For example, transit stations have specific guidance for application of cleaning and disinfection.
Are you cleaning or disinfecting a soft and porous material or items like carpet, rugs, or seating in areas?
Soft and porous materials are generally not as easy to disinfect as hard and non-porous surfaces. EPA has listed a limited number of products approved for disinfection for use on soft and porous materials. Soft and porous materials that are not frequently touched should only be cleaned or laundered, following the directions on the item’s label, using the warmest appropriate water setting. Find more information on CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility for developing strategies for dealing with soft and porous materials.
Have All Decontamination Equipment On-Hand
Keep in mind the availability of cleaning and disinfection products and appropriate PPE. Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Follow the directions on the disinfectant label for additional PPE needs. In specific instances, personnel with specialized training and equipment may be required to apply certain disinfectants such as fumigants or fogs. For more information on appropriate PPE for cleaning and disinfection, see CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.
Implement and Follow Your Decontamination Plan
Once you have a plan, it’s time to take action. Read all manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaning and disinfection products you will use. Put on your gloves and other required personal protective equipment (PPE) to begin the process of cleaning and disinfecting.
Clean visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water
Clean surfaces and objects using soap and water prior to disinfection. Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Follow the directions on the disinfectant label for additional PPE needs. When you finish cleaning, remember to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Clean or launder soft and porous materials like seating in an office or coffee shop, area rugs, and carpets. Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest temperature setting possible and dry items completely.
Use Appropriate Cleaning or Disinfectant Products
EPA-approved disinfectants when applied according to the manufacturer’s label, are effective for use against COVID-19. Follow the instructions on the label for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, dilution, application method, contact time and any other special considerations when applying.
Maintain and Revise Your COVID Decontamination Plan
Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 during daily activities. CDC provides tips to reduce your exposure and risk of acquiring COVID-19. Reducing exposure to yourself and others is a shared responsibility. Continue to update your plan based on updated guidance and your current circumstances.
Routine Cleaning and Disinfecting
Routine cleaning and disinfecting are an important part of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water alone can reduce risk of exposure and is a necessary step before you disinfect dirty surfaces.
Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets, should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use. For example, certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
Consider choosing a different disinfectant if your first choice is in short supply. Make sure there is enough supply of gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the label, the amount of product you will need to apply, and the size of the surface you are treating.
Maintain Safe Practices on Worksites
- social distancing (specifically, staying 6 feet away from others when you must go into a shared space)
- frequently washing hands or use alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- wearing masks
- avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- staying home when sick
- cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
It’s important to continue to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance for opening America. Check any specific federal and state regulations your job needs to follow for information. This will help you change your plan when situations are updated.
Consider Decontamination Practices that Reduce the Potential for Exposure
It is also essential to change the ways we use public spaces to work, live, and play. We should continue thinking about our safety and the safety of others.
To reduce your exposure to or the risk of spreading COVID-19 after opening your business or facility, consider whether you need to touch certain surfaces or materials. Consider wiping public surfaces before and after you touch them. These types of behavioral adjustments can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Another way to reduce the risk of exposure is to make long-term changes to practices and procedures. These could include reducing the use of porous materials used for seating, leaving some doors open to reduce touching by multiple people, opening windows to improve ventilation, or removing objects in your common areas, like coffee creamer containers. There are many other steps that businesses and institutions can put into place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect their staff and the public.
Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Resources
For more information on finding a local contractor, check the resources below:
- Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Members
- IECA Common Questions & Answers
- Illinois Environmental Organizations & Related Agencies
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our associates to find an answer to your situation. With more than 40 Illinois-licensed companies represented by IECA members, we believe that collective action through association is the most effective way to deal with the changing demands of doing business.Tags: COVID-19, Decontamination, disinfecting, Guidelines, Recommendations, sterilizing, Worksite Cleanup