If your premises has been exposed to a contaminant such as a virus or harmful chemical, the best course of action is to arrange specialist decontamination. Organisations in many industries use this method of cleaning as it can help them to uphold the relevant safety standards.

As well as frequently being utilised in scientific or healthcare environments, decontamination can be important in many areas that require thorough cleaning, such as sports facilities, hotels, restaurants, offices and commercial kitchens.

What is decontamination?

Decontamination is a broad term that applies to the removal of harmful substances from surfaces, clothing, other items and the environment more generally. Sometimes known as air and surface decontamination, this process can include physically washing the affected areas and using cleaning products to neutralise the contaminants.

Depending on the substance involved and the environment in which the work is being carried out, decontamination can include many different steps, such as closing off and cleaning an area, taking away individual items to clean them in a special facility or setting up a safe zone for removing traces of contaminants from specific people.

The most suitable approach and the correct cleaning method will depend on a number of factors, including what the contaminant is, how dangerous it is, how much there is and where it is. Taking these factors into consideration, the specialist cleaners will decide on the best way to approach the decontamination process.

Two professional specialists decontaminating a room.

Why is decontamination important?

It’s vitally important that decontamination is carried out correctly, as the main aim is to remove the harmful substance in order to prevent anyone from being negatively affected by it.

For instance, if the harmful substance is a dangerous chemical or virus, anyone who comes into contact with it could suffer from serious health problems as a result. The importance of preventing the spread of germs has been emphasised during the coronavirus pandemic, as it’s easy for this virus to move from person to person if PPE isn’t worn and affected areas aren’t suitably cleaned.

Why is decontamination important in healthcare?

Decontamination is particularly crucial in the healthcare industry, as failure to ensure that areas are kept clean at all times could lead to cross contamination and harm to patients, members of staff and others.

Without this attention to detail, the consequences could be catastrophic. For example, if a patient was suffering from a contagious, life threatening disease, it would be important to clean the area they were in, such as the bed and ward, as well as any equipment they came into contact with. If these areas aren’t cleaned to a high enough standard, this disease could pass on to other people, potentially leading to severe illness or even death.

Due to the critical nature of decontamination in this environment – whether it’s a hospital, doctor’s surgery or other healthcare setting – it’s crucial that surfaces, equipment and all areas are frequently decontaminated.

What is decontamination of medical equipment?

As decontamination plays such a key role in the healthcare industry, it’s important that all equipment is sufficiently cleaned to remove any trace of harmful substances. After any medical device is used, the doctor, nurse, dentist, other healthcare professional or specialist cleaner will decontaminate it. For example, beds, chairs, trolleys, hoists, stethoscopes, wheelchairs and electrical devices need to be thoroughly wiped down and duvets and pillows require washing between patients.

Alternatively, if a piece of equipment is disposable or if it’s simply safer to dispose of it such as ambu bags, masks, airways, bedpans, device electrodes, medicine posts, syringes and sputum pots, special clinical waste bins are provided in healthcare facilities for safe removal.

What is decontamination equipment?

To perform a decontamination in any environment, special equipment is required. Unlike the general cleaning methods you may use at home or in a commercial setting, this enhanced cleaning involves the use of more advanced cleaning products and disinfectants to completely remove harmful substances.

A device for spraying the cleaning products on the required areas is needed, such as an electrostatic sprayer, along with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), such as overalls, a face mask, gloves and shoe covers. Additionally, more advanced equipment could be used for decontamination, such as BioSweep, which is designed for assisting with air and surface decontamination, eliminating odour and microbe elimination.

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