We are aware of the need to review our workplace cleaning regime due to Covid-19. What are the requirements for cleaning if a person with suspected Covid-19 has been sent home from work?
Keeping the workplace clean is a key risk mitigation factor in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Increased frequency of cleaning reduces the presence of the virus and the risk of contact. Surfaces and belongings can be contaminated with Covid-19 when people who are infectious cough or sneeze nearby or touch them.
Good practice produced by the British Standards Institution recommends that organisations should “establish and communicate processes to manage suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19”.
It further states that as part of this, organisations should “ensure the areas the affected person has been in are either isolated or cleaned immediately”.
It is therefore important that the organisation has a notification process in terms of suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases so that the appropriate action can be taken by those responsible for cleaning and disinfection.
The UK Government guidance requires all surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with to be “cleaned and disinfected, including all potentially contaminated and frequently touched areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab rails in corridors and stairwells”.
Cleaners should use disposable cloths/paper rolls/disposable mop heads to clean hard surfaces using a combined detergent/disinfectant solution or household detergent followed by disinfection.
When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.
Public areas that a symptomatic person has just passed through, ie spent minimal time in, can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.
The minimum personal protective equipment to be worn for cleaning an area after a person with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 has left the setting is disposable gloves and an apron. Additional equipment may be required if a higher level of infection is potentially present.
Personal waste from individuals with symptoms of Covid-19 and waste from cleaning of areas where they have been (including PPE, disposable cloths and used tissues) should be dealt with as follows.
The waste should be put in a plastic rubbish bag, which is tied tightly when full.
The rubbish bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied.
This should be kept in a suitable and secure place and not put out with normal refuse. If no test is done or Covid-19 is confirmed, this waste should be stored for at least 72 hours before disposal with normal waste. The waste should not be placed in communal waste areas until negative test results are known, or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours.