The importance of proper sanitization and disinfection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

December 14, 2021

The importance of proper sanitisation and disinfection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

All businesses have a similar goal to earn a profit while keeping staff and customers comfortable and safe. During the coronavirus pandemic, businesses must adapt quickly so that they can open and operate safely again. However, very few people have received the right training in how to address issues presented by the pandemic. To offer support while businesses prepare to open, Local Government and Public Health England have issued guidance that covers almost every conceivable situation.

Dr Neal LangermanHere, Dr. Neal Langerman Ph.D., a chemist with over 40 years’ industry experience and a freelance writer at Kolabtree, a freelance platform for scientists, explores how businesses can fill this gap in guidance.

All guidance includes information on sanitising and disinfecting the workplace and frequent hand washing to improve hand hygiene of customers and staff. However, few bodies offer guidance on selecting and using the correct disinfecting chemicals and methods or what regulatory framework businesses should follow.

Businesses are currently doing what is required to keep staff and the public safe in as efficient a manner as possible. This includes efficient sanitising and disinfecting techniques to limit the spread of the virus. While these two terms have different definitions, the nuanced differences are irrelevant to operating a business. For clarity, this article will use the word “sanitising” (or its derivatives) to mean both sanitising and disinfecting and the term “employees” will refer to both employees and customers.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread as a bio-aerosol. Depending on the mechanism of generation – breathing, talking, cough, sneezing, etc – the bio-aerosols settle out of the air column in less than two metres and in 15 minutes. While reports exist that claim exceptions to these figures, they provide a good frame of reference for creating a safe business workspace.

While the virus is quite fragile, reports suggest that it can persist on hard surfaces, both porous and non-porous, from minutes to hours, increasing the opportunity for it to transfer from hand to body and therefore increase the risk of infection. However, the lipids that coat the genetic material of the virus is easy to disrupt, so sanitising surfaces can easily kill the virus. Businesses must select the right sanitising product, understand where, how and how often to apply the product, and how often employees need to wash their hands….

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