Infection control

If PPE that is recommended for use with certain cleaning chemicals is not available, it is advisable to move to a cleaning technique that does not require the missing PPE. That may require even higher frequencies of cleaning tasks that rely more on manual removal than chemical deactivation of the virus. Another situation that may arise is which employees should handle cleaning and disinfecting tasks. Some institutional protocols may state that a healthcare worker handle the cleaning tasks in an infected resident’s room, instead of an environmental services employee. It is normally not recommended to have other employees carry out environmental services (EVS) department tasks unless there is an emergency.

EVS staff are properly trained to clean, sanitize and disinfectant areas to ensure they are acting in accordance with proper resident care. If other employees undertake these tasks without proper training, these processes might be inadequately executed, increasing risk.

When visitors return

Once accepting outside visitors again, heightened cleaning and disinfecting steps will be necessary to reduce the risk of another rash of infections, based on

introduction of possible outside contaminants. Locations that need to be addressed in a review of the initial risk assessment include: common areas, hallways, public-use restrooms, dining halls, activity rooms and family entertainment areas.

The most common way to reduce risk of cross-contamination in these areas is through increased frequencies of cleaning and disinfecting. Additional weekly cleaning that is more thorough can be recommended, based on the risk assessment, as can monthly project cleaning of all public areas, dining hall, activity room, entertainment rooms, and public restrooms.

As you can see, in addition to proper infection control protocols and, for example, limiting visitor access within a care facility, there are many important cleaning and disinfection steps to think about when creating the right pandemic response protocols.

It is never too late to implement additional steps, even at this stage in the Covid-19 response, especially when the return to routine operations and visitation can still run the risk of further cases.

About ISSA, IEHA and GBAC ISSA, the worldwide cleaning

association, provides training, resources and other tools for professionals in the commercial and institutional cleaning profession, including a specific division for health care environmental services. The IEHA - formerly the International Executive Housekeepers Association and now a division of ISSA - and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council offer guidance and training in biorisk management and forensic cleaning. This collective group of experts from ISSA, IEHA and GBAC offer free tips sheets, plus in-depth, on-demand training for Coronavirus-specific cleaning and disinfecting at: coronavirus or contact for further information.

References 1. ‘Comparing the Established Competency Categories of the Biosafety and Infection Prevention Professions: A Possible Roadmap for Addressing Professional Development Training Needs for a New Era’, Applied Biosafety: Journal of ABSA International Vol. 21(2) p79-83, 2016.

2. ‘Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for Covid-19’, World Health Organization, 2020. publications-detail/water-sanitation-hygiene- and-waste-management-for-covid-19


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