Cleaners should wear disposable gloves and avoid dry sweeping to guard themselves against COVID-19. These were among the recommendations set out in a new set of guidelines for cleaning staff issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US.
Standard measures mooted by the OSHA include the wearing of masks, washing the hands frequently and maintaining social distancing. But the body added that employers should also assess the hazards to which their workers may be exposed and implement other controls where appropriate. According to the OSHA, most cleaners need to take no special precautions beyond those they already use to protect them from routine hazards. But the risks are higher for cleaners who work in high-traffic environments and in the healthcare sector.
As a general rule, the OSHA advocates the use of disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and suggests that all equipment should be wiped before and after use. And dry sweeping and high-pressure cleaning should be avoided where possible since these processes could re-aerosolise infectious particles.
Operatives are also advised to clean using the warmest water they can safely use to do so, and to wash their clothes when they return home if possible. And workers should avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths until after they have thoroughly washed their hands upon completing their work and removing any PPE.
The recommendations are all advisory and are intended to help employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their staff.