Cleanliness during COVID-19: the steps you can take to reassure workers and customers

Running a business with the ongoing threat of COVID-19 infection poses a range of challenges, including providing a safe environment for employees and customers. In addition to this, you will need to rebuild the confidence of consumers in order to encourage them to enter your premises and purchase your products or services.

Following on from our infographic ‘Redefining Cleanliness in the Post-pandemic Era’, we’ve put together this blog post outlining some of the important steps you can take.

Carry out a risk assessment

As a business, you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect workers and others from COVID-19 infection. As part of this, you should conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment. This assessment should identify what situations or work activities may cause transmission of the virus in your premises and who may be placed in danger. You should also determine how likely it is that people may be exposed to infection risk, and take action to remove or, if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

Limit people’s contact with surfaces and objects

Because COVID-19 can transfer from people to surfaces, and then others can become infected by touching these surfaces, it’s important to keep employee and customer contact with objects and surfaces to a minimum. You may be able to do this by:

  • Reducing the movement of people around your premises
  • Propping doors open (excluding fire doors) to eliminate the need to touch handles
  • Installing automatic sensors or foot plates on doors
  • Placing notices around your premises advising people not to touch items they do not intend to buy.

Because some contact with surfaces is unavoidable, you should consider placing hand gel stations by entrances, exits, reception areas and so on.

Put a rigorous cleaning regime in place

Whether you rely on in-house cleaners or specialist third parties, make sure you have a rigorous cleaning regime in place. You may need to increase the frequency and thoroughness of cleaning, and you should ensure that special attention is paid to all surfaces, particularly those that are touched frequently, such as light switches and door handles. At a minimum, frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned at the beginning and end of each day, and you may need to do this more often depending on how many people use the space. Cleaning of frequently touched surfaces is especially important in bathrooms and communal kitchens.

To make cleaning easier, remove any unnecessary clutter and items that are difficult to clean.

Arrange specialist decontamination if necessary

If your premises has been exposed to COVID-19, this can understandably alarm workers and customers. However, carrying out a specialist decontamination of the affected area can remove the risk and provide the reassurance that people need.

Ideal Response logo

During a decontamination carried out by Ideal Response, specialists wearing appropriate PPE (including full face masks) will complete a thorough manual clean of the area. They will then use electrostatic backpack sprayers to apply an antimicrobial coating to all surfaces within the contaminated area. This coating acts as a barrier that kills any micro-organisms that land on surfaces for up to a year after application. Our technicians will also use air decontamination units that release ultra-sterilised air.

Clearly communicate the steps you are taking to employees and customers

Taking actions like these will help to minimise risk to your workers and customers. However, by themselves, these steps may not be sufficient to rebuild confidence. In order to encourage people to feel safe in your premises, you will need to clearly communicate the precautions you are taking. For example, you could place signs in prominent positions detailing how often areas are being cleaned.

Another effective way to demonstrate that you are taking hygiene seriously is to make people aware of your RLU scores if you have had these assessments carried out. Hygiene specialists such as Ideal Response can use adenosine triphosphate (ATP) monitoring to detect the presence of contamination, including microbes. ATP is an enzyme that is found in all organic material. The less of this enzyme that is present on a surface, the cleaner that surface is. ATP can be detected with hygiene luminometers, which take bioluminescence measurements in Relative Light Units (RLUs). This allows for the quick and accurate assessment of cleanliness levels.

Our goal is always to lower RLUs to under 150-200, and where possible we aim to get them below 50. Having very low RLU scores shows customers that the surfaces in your premises are clean.

Restoring employee and customer confidence to pre-COVID-19 levels is not an easy task and it may take a long time. However, by taking hygiene seriously and implementing measures like these, you can help people to feel safer and more relaxed in your premises.

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