People put a lot of trust in a facility’s leadership. If you are responsible for a facility, that’s a lot to take on. And facility leaders will ask: how can I guarantee that people (team members, team leaders, students, patients, clients, customers, guests — our colleagues, our families) in my facility won’t get sick? That’s a natural thing to ask for. I wish there were a perfect guarantee.
The truth is that, as leaders responsible for the facilities and spaces people share, we have to focus on what is possible. What we can do is implement best practices in infection prevention. We can follow official guidance, put it into practice, and take action to keep shared spaces healthy. And we can help people understand what’s being done to protect them, so they can feel sure it’s okay to focus on being that great team member, or good student, or satisfied client.
Disinfection Is Now Everyone’s Business
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, disinfection may not have been a core competency of your business. When you compared the benefits of facility service providers and in-house cleaning, that was likely a factor. Now we are here, and your business’ core competencies may not have grown to include disinfection, but your business’ core needs have now changed drastically. Cleaning and disinfection are now a priority, if not a clear requirement, for maintaining healthy spaces in a facility.
Putting a people-first strategy into place will take some dedicated effort. You will want a disinfection plan that takes the latest safety, infection control, and cleaning protocols recommended in official guidance from the CDC, WHO, and OSHA. You’ll want your procedures to use EPA-registered disinfectants that have been designated for use against SARS-CoV-2. You’ll want to build clear, on-going, and effective procedures for cleaning and disinfection and make sure the team members executing those procedures are properly trained to safely and correctly implement them.
That’s a lot of work. The research is there, and there are experts you can reach out to for help. I know it can be done because I’m one of those experts. My specialty is infection prevention. It is possible to design and implement a program that upgrades your cleaning process. If you don’t already have a robust cleaning and disinfection program in place, this may not be the time to start from scratch. Even if you do have cleaning and disinfection protocols, it may be time to consider moving to a certified disinfection program.
No matter how COVID-19 has impacted your facility up to this moment, people’s safety will continue to be your priority. The safety you can provide in the buildings you control will depend on adherence to consistent protocols. And those must not stop with a one-time clean. This will require a sustained effort. It’s both a strategic and practical shift needed to keep spaces healthy for people.
The Full Facility Scope of COVID-19
Infection prevention happens in an environment. That means factors beyond direct disinfection have an impact, such as indoor air quality. For instance, humidity is known to affect droplet size, which can influence how far an airborne droplet travels before dropping, or how fast droplets accumulate on a surface. As you step back and consider the physical changes to spaces, like adding plexiglass shields, or 2 signs that encourage traffic patterns that support social distancing, it’s important to consider the role of facility assets.
The CDC currently recommends increased ventilation to maintain a healthy indoor environment, as well as improving air filtration to the level of MERV-13 filters. An assessment of your HVAC system for 3 airflow, filtration, and efficiency, should be a part of your disinfection strategy. Look at everything from setting controls to meet your indoor air quality needs, to preventive maintenance that avoids ventilation system failure.
In addition, facility choices from landscaping to parking can have an impact. Cutting back trees can increase natural UV light from sunlight in a facility. Contactless parking systems and parking automation can reduce interactions with frequently touched surfaces or bottlenecks in waiting areas. A provider of turnkey disinfection services may have a wider menu of facility solutions. If they have experts available to coordinate a holistic disinfection plan, that kind of comprehensive assessment is a great tool for moving your facility forward quickly and completely.
Comprehensive Disinfection Is Now a Core Business Need
Everyone is going to remember how the institutions, businesses, and facilities around them responded to this watershed moment. A certified program helps you deliver on the promise of prioritizing the health of people in your facility. You can be sure you have qualified processes in place, put into practice by disinfection specialists trained through an accredited program. You’ll have a clear and consistent presence of disinfection that people in your shared spaces can see.