Cleaning Remains The Most Important Weapon Against Covid

With legal restrictions on mask wearing, social distancing and everything else having been dropped on Monday 19th July – the expectation has been shifted on to the individual to show responsibility on these matters.

And, with working from home advice also ending, an increase in the number of people working from offices is expected, with a rise almost certain.

So, with more people in offices, people able to sit at bars without social distancing and less individuals wearing face masks, will there be more anxiety? And what can companies do to keep both customers and staff from feeling this angst?

 

Anxiety Still Here

A recent study shows that more than half of the British workforce would be happy to never return to the office, citing a number of reasons for this anxiety.

The study of 1,000 employees who are currently working from home suggested that 39% asked were worried about lack of personal space, 27% concerned about colleagues carrying out hand hygiene and 27% concerned that there was not enough communal cleaning.

It goes on to show that 56% would like their employer to install sanitising pumps, whilst 51% would insist on the employer implementing a daily cleaning regime for communal areas. A further 40% would feel more comfortable if there was a monthly decontamination deep clean as part of their offices cleaning regime.

So, cleaning and sanitisation is clearly at the forefront of people’s minds – and this is likely to continue until cases and circulation of the virus start to decrease.

 

What Can Employers Do?

Put simply, clean and disinfect thoroughly and effectively – ideally with a sanitiser that contains environmentally responsible ingredients. The level of sanitisers used is highly likely to increase to help battle people’s fears, so if using more it is important that it is less damaging to the environment or the user.

One of the most important aspects to focus on is undoubtedly hand hygiene! With people more likely to be hugging, shaking hands and using touch points again, it needs to be at the top of the agenda. It is vital that touch points are cleaned regularly, and hands are washed frequently. If there isn’t a hand wash sink, then hands need to be disinfected using a hand sanitiser. Again, preferably one made using ingredients that are kinder to the environment and the user.

It sounds simple but keep cleaning procedures and protocols in place. In general, cleaning standards over the last 18 months have improved quite drastically – and now is not the time to revert to how things were. Things like disinfecting touch points regularly and cleaning desks before eating lunch will go a long way to helping cut the potential spread of viruses.

A final, and hugely significant, piece of advice is to be visible when cleaning. This will help to alleviate reopening anxiety considerably – for both customers and employees. With cleaning under the spotlight, whether in offices or hospitality settings, seeing cleaning procedures in action is sure to make customers feel more relaxed, and give employees returning to offices peace of mind.

 

A Tough Winter Ahead?

It has been widely noted that due nearly 18 months of being in lockdown, the general public’s immune systems aren’t as resilient as they were. Respiratory and flu viruses, as well as norovirus are expected to make a big comeback – meaning following strict cleaning protocols is as important as at any time during the pandemic.

Restrictions may be gone legally, but mask wearing (just look at TFL) is still strongly advised by the government. And, with covid cases still on an upwards trend, hand hygiene and the public’s peace of mind are essential for the return to normal life.

Following on from his piece on Fogging last year in Tomorrow’s FM Magazine, James Nayler  looks at the difference between Fogging and Electrostatic Spraying, the PPE required, and which option should be used when…

A lot of businesses are now taking extra precautionary steps to ensure the spread of Coronavirus is reduced. After a thorough clean of potentially contaminated surfaces, we are seeing fogging or electrostatic spraying applied more regularly than before.

So, what are the differences? And how do we decide which one to use?

 

Fogging

The basic principle of fogging is to reach high level surfaces, the undersides of surfaces, ceilings and other areas that can sometimes be missed or overlooked. A fog has to consist of tiny micron particles that are less dense than the air around it, which naturally allows the fog to rise and target the high-level surfaces.

We are regularly asked questions by customers around fogging, with the most common being, “What are the PPE requirements whilst I am fogging?”, and the answers vary substantially depending on the type of machine is use.

A fogging machine can be either a stand-alone piece of equipment or a handheld device. If using the stand-alone option, the machine is left in the middle of a room and does not require the need to be moved. This type of machine is isolated by a source of power (either electric or pneumatic) from outside the room and will run for the programmed time.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are mis-lead into believing they need head to toe PPE when fogging this way, and you do not! The reason being is – if conducted properly – you are not in the room whilst the fogging is taking place, nor for at least 60 minutes post fog.

However, with a handheld application, PPE requirements are much greater as the user is in the same room as the fog, therefore, putting themselves at greater risk of contact with the sanitiser by ways of inhale, ingest, skin and/or eyes. As a minimum, we would recommend suitable eye, body, hand, and respiratory protection. You will be able to find advice on PPE from your local provider.

When a room is fogged, windows should be sealed, electronic equipment isolated and bagged off, and all doors should remain closed. A more detailed summary of fogging can be found within the ‘Facts About Fogging’ piece found in the August edition of Tomorrow’s FM.

 

Electrostatic Spraying

The application and PPE requirements are very similar to that when carrying out handheld fogging.

The basis of Electrostatic Spraying is similar to fogging, but there is an important additional process that takes place. At the tip of the sprayer, as the sanitiser leaves, it is positively charged with an electrode.

As nearly every surface that we aim to sanitise has a negative charge, the positive charge that is applied therefore means that the negative surface magnetically attracts the positively charged sanitiser. This in turn causes a “wrap around” affect, almost guaranteeing complete surface coverage.

The diagram below shows this:

 

Compare that to a handheld fog, that is not positively charged, directed at the same surface:

 

Electrostatic Spraying vs Fogging

If targeting specific areas in-between client meetings, such as tables & chairs, or individual toilet cubicles throughout the day, then electrostatic spraying would be the preferred option as this method is prone to less atomisation of sanitiser and is a lesser risk to those in the same vicinity.

Fogging, however, is better suited to those areas that are vacant after hours, such as office buildings, restaurants, gyms etc. The benefits of fogging ensure complete sanitiser coverage of all surfaces rather than specifics.

It is important that you choose the correct form of disinfection for your business, and the health of your employees and customers. Take extra precaution when risk assessing the environment to be sanitised before deciding. In either application, the efficacy of the sanitiser is the same.

 

In our industry, log reduction and kill percentages are something we see and hear on a daily basis, across social media and industry publications. For some, these claims can simply appear to be buzzwords, for others they are the result of rigorous testing.

It led us to wonder, how confident are buyers, suppliers and end users on what log reduction actually means? And are they aware of why 99.999% is so much more effective than 99.9%?

 

What are Logs?

The basic problem when talking about numbers of bacteria, viruses or other microbes is that the numbers tend to be very large. For example, there could be as many as 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) bacteria in the human body.

Having to write down and discuss such large numbers is tedious and soon leads to mistakes being made. Therefore, scientists have found a simpler way of discussing bacterial numbers – a mathematical function called a logarithm. Specifically, the logarithm to the base of 10. Often referred to as “log10” or simply “log” – although care is needed with the latter terms as other types of log do exist.

The definition of log10 is: The power to which 10 must be raised to in order to produce a given number. Or, to make it a little easier for the non-scientists, if we keep things simple and stick to multiples of 10, the number of zeros in the standard number will give the log; i.e. The log10 of 10 is 1. The log10 of 100 is 2 and so on.

The table below shows this basic relationship –

 

Log Reduction Table

 

 Log Reduction

So, when we are using disinfectants and similar products the purpose is to kill microbes such as bacteria and viruses on surfaces or on our hands. And, for a product to be deemed suitable, we need to measure the level of kill.

So, we therefore talk in terms of “log reductions” and it follows from the table above that each log is simply a 10-fold reduction in bacteria or viruses. For example, a reduction in numbers from log 6 to log 5 is a 1 log reduction, from log 6 to log 4 is a 2 log reduction and so on.

 

99.9% vs 99.999% – Percentage Reductions

As mentioned, percentage reductions in numbers are also regularly quoted across the industry on product labelling and by manufacturers and distributors. They follow a similar breakdown in that a 1 log reduction is a 90% reduction, a 2 log reduction is a 99% reduction, a 3 log reduction is 99.9% reduction and so on. These relationships are summarised below – imagining that we start with a million bacteria on a surface –

 

Log Reduction table

 

It is important to remember the reason for disinfecting a surface or your hands is to lower the infectious dose of a bacterium or virus. It can take as few as 10-100 bacteria or viral particles to cause infection.

There are many products that, for example claim to “kill 99.9% of bacteria”. Although this sounds like a successful reduction, as the above table demonstrates this is only a 3 log reduction and if the treated area had a million bacteria to start with, the user is still left with 1000, which is considerably higher than the potential infective dose. And the surviving bacteria could go on to infect a significant number of people.

It also follows that a disinfectant capable of a 5 log reduction, is 100 times more effective than one that can only achieve a 3 log reduction! For these reasons, most official disinfectant tests require a 4 or 5 log reduction in numbers to pass the test and a 5 log (99.999%) reduction is considered the gold star in terms of reducing the possibility of human disease transmission as far as possible. 

It is therefore crucial that suppliers have independent efficacy data to support their products and that log reductions exceeding 4 or 5 are demonstrated. The BioHygiene disinfectant range has consistently achieved 4 and 5 log reductions data as required by EN tests, this applying to our All Purpose Sanitiser, Kitchen Sanitiser, Washroom 4D Sanitiser and Foaming Hand Sanitiser.

 

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