How to Disinfect a Commercial Building
The current coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19, means that we all have adaptations to make to our lives. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting public buildings, particularly those which have dealt with a known outbreak of the virus.
Making a building safe for use by eliminating any existing virus is still not an exact science. Since COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus, there are no proven methods for killing it. Often, the best we can do is use methods that have been successful in eliminating other strains of coronavirus.
Guidelines for cleaning a commercial building
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the body which has issued the advice that the virus should be dealt with in a similar way to past coronaviruses. Decontamination without a full understanding of how the virus behaves is a difficult prospect, but these are the questions you should ask yourself before making a start:
- Do we know which areas of the building infected people were in contact with?
- What type of HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system does the building have?
- How is the ductwork designed? Is it easy to seal off during disinfection?
- What are the building’s high traffic zones?
- How soon does the building need to be operational again?
Answering the above questions should give you a guide of how soon you need to complete disinfection, which areas to pay particular attention to and how you will go about managing ventilation during the process.
It is always recommended to enlist the services of professional decontamination experts. There are HVAC companies that are very familiar with the National Air Duct Association Standards, meaning they will know how best to seal the ductwork, change filters, and decontaminate ensuring that they use proper scaffolding. Ensure you hire an industrial hygienist on board - they will be able to disinfect the area with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and be properly certified in dealing with these situations.
What products might kill the coronavirus?
While there is no consensus on which product might deal best with COVID-19, industrial hygienists will come prepared with the best available product at the moment.
Substances which have been shown to kill other strains of coronavirus include ethanol (78%) and hydrogen peroxide (0.5%). It is important that whichever solution you use contains the right amount of key disinfectant to isolate and disable the virus.
You can find a list of other CDC approved ingredients on their website. However, we remind you that if you have to disinfect a commercial building or are dealing with a particularly large outbreak, it is in your best interest to contact a professional virus decontamination service.
If you do decide to attempt decontamination yourself, remember to wear PPE, use an approved cleaning substance and clean each area deeply before you apply the disinfectant. The disinfecting substance should remain on each surface for at least one minute to successfully isolate a virus.
Smaller scale disinfection
The CDC has issued best practice guidelines for those needing to disinfect commercial buildings such as offices or warehouses during COVID-19. If you have no confirmed outbreak but feel it is necessary to disinfect, read up on the following tips from the CDC:
- Ensure you wear gloves during the cleaning process and dispose of them once you are done.
- First, clean surfaces with soap, water and rags before using a disinfectant. It is easier to kill a reduced number of germs!
- Get into the habit of cleaning high-contact surfaces like doorknobs, desks, toilets, light switches and sinks.
- Check for an EPA-approved household disinfectant and ensure you follow the instructions on the label. It is usually recommended to use disinfectant on a wet surface.
- Have good ventilation during the cleaning process.
The above are useful tips for cleaning your commercial building on a day-to-day basis. However, if you have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your building it would definitely be a better idea to take your time and tackle the disinfection with the help of professionals.
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