Given that they are the frontline workers assigned to prevent or manage COVID-19 contamination, cleaners have been selflessly battling COVID-19 putting their own lives to risk for the sake of national security. But, have they been fully trained to face a virus that just came out of the blue? Did the cleaning companies find enough time to train these frontline workers?
Here are top reasons why your cleaning staff needs proper training before they set out to battle COVID-19:
Training protects them
Cleaning operatives have the maximum chances of contracting coronavirus or any other infectious disease because they regularly come in contact with surfaces that have been touched by a lot of people. This makes them more vulnerable to the virus than most of us.
Performing activities such as disinfection of quarantine buildings, public areas, cleaning up a medical facility with exposure to infections, etc. are all high-risk jobs routinely performed by cleaning professionals.
Therefore, it is important that sufficient training and support is provided to cleaning professionals so that they work safely and limit any potential harm not just to themselves and don’t become the carriers of COVID-19 themselves.
Providing a contamination-free environment
The health and safety of cleaning professionals is important. It is also important that the facility they maintain is actually free from the virus and safe for the individuals working there. Knowledge of hygienic cleaning as well as infection control procedures is vital to ensure a clean and safe work environment for all concerned. Moreover, ensuring that they have a clear idea of the kind of protective personal equipment (PPE) that can be used in different environments is key.
A well-trained cleaner also ensures client satisfaction as well as does away with the need for redoing a task by getting it right the first time around.
Achieving high levels of disinfection
One of the things a professional cleaning company is supposed to do is help protect and maintain their assets. Cleaning operatives who are well-trained are able to avoid any instances that could occur due to lack of knowledge, training, and expertise. For example, they would be able to know exactly what quantity of a chemical is required to achieve the right amount of disinfection, the contact times of each chemical to kill the virus and the usage of each equipment.
Ensuring correct waste disposal
The entire sterilisation operation could fail if the waste generated from cleaning is not treated right. Training provides cleaning professionals with the know-how to dispose materials they’ve used to disinfect in line with environmental policy and regulation. They must also be able to correctly identify and segregate waste materials.
How to train your cleaning staff for COVID-19 Disinfection
The first step is to educate your cleaning staff about COVID-19 - how it spreads, which surfaces are more prone to be infected, why a particular chemical or equipment needs to be used, and why contact times can’t be compromised. If they understand the basics, they’ll be more efficient in achieving the desired level of disinfection.
Establish standards of cleanliness
To combat COVID-19, give your staff a checklist of the tasks that they should perform with each round of disinfection. This list can include things like vacuuming the floors, wiping down and fumigating all the surfaces. Anything that needs doing should be covered. Make sure that your staff feels free to ask any questions they may have about the cleanliness standard. It is also important to express that there are no dumb questions. Training is the best time to address confusion and establish best practices.
Teach them proper use of equipment
What equipment will your staff need to use? They should know the nitty gritties and troubleshooting techniques of every tool that will be a part of their cleaning arsenal.
Training in the use of PPE and hand hygiene
The cleaning staff must be trained to wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process. Here are the a few things to include in the training:
1. Gloves and gowns should be compatible with the disinfectant products being used.
2. Additional PPE should be used based on the cleaning/ disinfectant products being used and where there is a risk of splash.
3. Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area.
4. Hands must be cleaned after removing gloves.
5. If gowns are not available, coveralls, aprons or work uniforms should be worn during cleaning and disinfecting.
6. Gloves should be removed after cleaning an area occupied by infected persons and hands must be cleaned immediately afterwards.
7. Cleaning staff should immediately report breaches in PPE such as a tear in gloves or any other potential exposures to their supervisor.
8. Cleaning staff and others should clean hands often by washing them with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used.
Tell them how to disinfect
For instance, for disinfecting a hard (non-porous) surface, your cleaning staff should be using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, only certified disinfectants should be used.
For electronics such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines, your staff must remove any visible contamination and consider use of wipeable covers for electronics.
Solicit feedback from your training staff
Feedback lies at the heart of a successful training program. So take feedback from your cleaning staff as they are the ones working on ground.
Additional considerations for cleaning companies
Cleaning companies must educate staff and workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pickup activities to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 and provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus. At a minimum, any staff should immediately notify their supervisor and the local health department if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
A cleaning company should develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks. Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly put on, take off and dispose of PPE.
Employers must ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the chemicals being used to achieve COVID disinfection.