The following are suggestions for Custodial staff to Navigate the Cleaning and their Personal Protection through COVID 19:
During a pandemic, more stringent cleaning methods must be adopted in order to protect the safety and health of staff and students once they return. Given the concern regarding the spread of COVID -19 through contaminated objects and surfaces, additional measures will be required to minimize the transmission of the virus through environmental surfaces such as sinks, handles, railings, desktops, counters or other shared work surfaces. The additional disinfecting requirements contained in this document will assist in reducing the spread of COVID – 19.
Alberta Health Services recommends that people do not come within 6 feet (2 meters) of each other.
Handwashing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Good handwashing technique can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults. Wash your hands prior to the start of your shift, at the end of your shift and every 1.5 hours, for a minimum of 5 times per 8-hour shift. Or more. Wash your hands like this:
- Remove all rings and wet your hands with warm running water.
- Put a small amount of liquid soap in the palm of one hand. Bar soaps are not as hygienic as liquid soaps because they stay moist and attract germs. If a bar soap is the only option it should be stored on a rack so that the bar doesn’t sit in water.
- Rub your hands together for 30-60 seconds so you produce lather. Make sure you scrub between your fingers, under your fingernails and the backs of your hands.
- Rinse your hands well with clean running water for at least 10 seconds. Try not to touch the faucets once your hands are clean. Use a paper towel to turn off the water.
- Dry your hands with a single use paper towel. If no paper towel is available, use the air dryer, but do not touch the activation button with your hand (use your elbow/sleeve).
- Use hand lotion to put moisture back into your skin if your hands are dry.
Wash hands frequently using soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. When soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers are an excellent alternative to use.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth or after touching hard surfaces like counters and door handles or other surfaces that may have influenza and other viruses on them.
Cover your cough and sneeze
Sneeze and cough into your elbow or sleeve or use a tissue. After wiping or blowing your nose with a tissue, throw away the tissue and wash your hands. Keep your fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
If you are sick – stay at home and avoid social gatherings
If you are sick, avoid going to work and being in large crowds as you can spread the virus easily to others. You should also visit those who are sick only if necessary. Symptoms from the AHS website may include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, fatigue and lack of appetite. If you have flu like symptoms, do not come to work, stay at home. Do not go out, do not use public transit. Call in and report your illness to the school, and they will request a replacement worker for you. Clean your house using the cleaning disinfection procedures below. Refer to AHS website for more information if you think you may be infected.
Call Alberta Health Services Health link
24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can call with a health concern at 811 to get health advice or information. You can also visit their website for complete information and updates.
In all cases, where an additional cleaning product or solution is recommended, staff must adhere to the WHMIS requirements and consult the Safety Data Sheet.
Cleaning, Disinfecting and Frequencies
The words clean, sanitize and disinfect get tossed around a lot. In casual uses, they’re often even used interchangeably, though there is a big difference between them.
- Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Cleaning is done by using soap, detergent or another cleaning product and water, then physically scrubbing with a clean cloth to remove germs from the surface. It is important to remember that cleaning does not kill germs, mold or fungi; it just removes visible, dirt. Before you can sanitize or disinfect, the dirt and debris must be removed.
- Sanitization is reducing a contamination or bacteria on a surface to a safe level, and is used primarily in food preparation areas because sanitizers are not meant to kill all microorganisms, but rather reduce the number of microorganisms to a safe level.
- Disinfecting is intended to destroy or irreversibly inactivate all infectious fungi and bacteria on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, and most importantly, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting cleaners can give a false sense of security if they are not used properly. The key areas to address are surfaces that are shared by staff members and those that come in close contact with bodily fluids. If your windows are dirty, they aren’t a big concern to everyone’s health but a doorknob touched after a sneeze can be.
The frequency of cleaning and disinfecting should be done to all hard surfaces in our sites with two things in mind.
- Areas that are not occupied. Clean and disinfect once and they are done.
- Common Areas, while most staff are not in the building, some are and therefore, areas like washrooms, work stations, entrances, door handles, areas that the people in the building are touching. It is recommended that these areas should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day. Cleaning expectations in other areas of the building may have to be adjusted in order to ensure that this is possible. Work with your Administration to determine how this works best for your site.
These are some examples of surfaces in a building:
- Desks and tables. Tops, bottoms and legs
- Chairs. Seat, back and bottom and legs.
- Staff desks – priority given to shared desk surfaces
- Empty garbage containers
- Counters and hand railings
- Lifts, stairwells, elevator buttons
- Doors, door handles and push plates
- Light switches and lift buttons
- Washbasins, toilet bowls and urinals
- Drinking fountains
- Kitchen surfaces including counters, taps, and handles on microwaves, stoves and fridges
- Shared telephones and keyboards in common areas e.g. reception, library, gym equipment, computer rooms, halls and lobbies
- Walls – classrooms, meeting rooms, hallways and washrooms