Updated 13 October 2020
As Australia slowly moves out of various stages of lockdown, facility managers, shop owners and site managers have a responsibility to respond and act to the changes regarding individual and public health. Facilities with face to face interaction need to ensure maximum hygiene standards are maintained. Let’s look at the three key components of safety and security. Don't forget to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment before restarting work in line with COVID safe plans relevant to your state or territory.
Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene is imperative to reducing the transfer of bacteria between surfaces and people. Depending on the type of bacteria, it can live on non-porous plastic and steel for up to 72 hours, whilst surviving up to 24 hours on cardboard. Recently we have learned from the CSIRO that COVID-19 can live on surfaces anywhere from less than 16 hours to 28 days depending upon the temperature and the surface.
So increasing cleaning frequency on high contact surfaces such as benchtops is a must. Consider implementing a self-cleaning policy, such as placing dirty dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down used items such as trolleys. Ensure a sufficient supply of cleaning and antibacterial supplies. Install hand sanitiser stations throughout the workplace, in particular at entrances and around common areas. Display signage instructing proper hand washing techniques and liquid hand wash near sinks as a reminder. Ensure you also provide hand drying facilities, whether it’s paper towels or electrical dryers.
High touch point areas
This then leads to high touch point areas. There are objects that can’t be cleaned after every single use, such as door handles and the doors themselves. Instead, install an antibacterial handle cover that clips over door handles such as on toilet cubicle doors and sliding doors. These handle covers from Purehold kills 99.9% of bacteria by using silver ion technology embedded into the surface of the handle. Other useful door hardware includes antibacterial push plates that are installed on the door with again the silver ion technology and therefore reducing contamination. Another alternative is to avoid touching the door altogether. The StepNpull foot door opener is perfect for restaurants and cafés. It means safely opening doors even with hands full of dishes and orders too. Otherwise, if your business is located in a building, consider using a touchless exit button to safely exit the building or area.
Your COVID safe plan should take into consideration the 1.5m social distancing rule. For retail spaces, this includes having signage displaying the number of people that can be in that space at any given time. Another method is to use tape or strips of paint on the floor to mark areas to maintain 1.5m distance. Use this in conjunction with signage reminding everyone to keep their distance from others within the same area. If possible create a one-way traffic flow through the workplace, this will again maintain social distancing between people. However, for workplaces that have workstations closer together, consider installing sneeze guards or screens. An alternative choice is to otherwise reduce the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams.
To prevent those with high temperatures from entering, a thermal temperature monitoring solution can be used. Once set up, it can check the temperature for groups of people. It is simpler to use rather than a handheld device where it can only check one person at a time.
Continuous learning for a post COVID-19 world
Although it may be only a matter of time for the COVID-19 pandemic to be under control, there will always be other potential health challenges. Therefore, facility managers, shop owners and site managers need to be constantly alert. This includes having a commitment to continuously improving health and hygiene standards and guidelines. As well as completing regular reviews and upgrades. As the health risks change on a regular basis, it is vital to stay informed and are up to date with news and information from respected international and national sources.