OFFICE managers and HR departments have access to large volumes of written material on the subject of workplace cleaning measures. Information will ultimately prove to be the best tool in keeping your workplace and personnel safe.
That’s according to Wahl Bartmann, Group CEO of Fidelity Services, who said the arrival of the pandemic in 2020 forced South African businesses to reinvent themselves and to review their operational models.
“A key part of this has been the best way to ensure cleanliness and health measures in any workspace, and how we put the safety and the health of customers and personnel front and centre,” he said.
“No one can claim that they were not aware of the best protocols to follow in preventing the spread of the coronavirus at work. It is incumbent on all business owners to make sure they are informed and familiar with the latest developments, and that this remains part of their daily operations long after the pandemic has ended.”
Fidelity Cleaning Services is a member of the Fidelity Services Group and provides specialized cleaning services to corporate customers.
For obvious reasons, any discussion about workplace cleaning and sanitation might be focused on the spread and prevention of the coronavirus at present. Bartmann said he hopes that this focus will not dissipate once the virus is defeated.
“I hope that the focused attention on workplace cleanliness remains part of how we do business. Whatever the next few weeks or months hold in store, we simply cannot let the lessons learned from the past twelve months go to waste.”
Operators in the cleaning industry need to ensure they are up to date with latest cleaning protocols that have been set down for the sector. These protocols have already changed a lot since early 2020, and it can potentially change in months to come depending on how the virus spreads and the success of vaccination programs.
A key recent development, said Bartmann, is the updated requirements for hand sanitisers. The South African Bureau of Standards has published the amendments to the national standard, SANS 490 that specifies the requirements for all alcohol-based hand sanitisers and hand rubs in the form of liquids, gels, foams, and aerosols that require approval by SABS.
“Our efforts to assist customers are based on guidelines published by The World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on the advice provided by local health authorities in South Africa.
“It is easy for anyone interested in these guidelines to access it and implement it. Service providers such as ourselves are also ideally placed to provide guidance.”
At heart, these measures deal with the transmission of a virus and the sort of cleaning and health measures that could prevent its spread. “My recommendation is that everyone in a workspace environment keep these measures in place, now and after the pandemic,” Bartmann said.
The measures include:
- Display posters promoting hand-washing – Informational and educational posters can be downloaded from a number of websites, such as the South African Government and the CDC. Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at internal meetings, and information on intranet sites to promote hand washing.
- Ensure that face masks or paper tissues are available for everyone at your workplace, along with closed bins that allow for its hygienic disposal. Face masks and paper tissues are especially important for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work.
- Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic – Surfaces that are touched regularly (such as door handles, desks, tables, phones and keyboards) need to be wiped down and disinfected regularly with an approved QAC or sanitising product. Products that are used must be SANS 1828 and NCRS approved.
- Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers – Put sanitising hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled with approved products.
- Prepare for the best, but plan for the worst – Ensure that you have accurate contact details for any employee or visitor on hand, so that everyone could be contacted in case of an infection that occurs to anyone that visited your workplace. Allocate a room or a space where anyone that possibly thinks they have fallen ill, can be kept isolated until they can safely be transported for medical treatment if this becomes necessary.
- Proper disposal of PPE equipment / Environmental awareness must be adhered to, to ensure PPE is disposed by authorised waste disposers according to Waste Classification and Management Regulations, 2013, published under Government Notice R634 in Gazette No. 36784 of 23 August 2013.
- Strict Screening procedures – needs to remain in place to ensure every single person entering a workplace is screened and authorised to enter the workplace. Any queries can be referred to the onsite nurse for clarification.
In order to get the South African economy up and running again, it is important to make sure that employees can operate in a safe and clean working environment, said Bartmann, adding that this puts an enormous responsibility on the cleaning industry.
“No one can predict with absolute certainty how the rest of the year will play itself out, but what we can do is to gather as much case study examples from other countries. Information will ultimately be our best way in which we can protect ourselves and our companies.”