The emergence of COVID-19 is worrying on many levels, but especially concerning for business owners whose living involves visiting property after property every day. Let’s discuss how to run a COVID-19 aware business…
As professionals in the property services sector, the likes of pest managers, building inspectors, cleaners and garden/tree/home maintenance workers encounter all kinds of people and places. Every one of these customers differs in their approach to hygiene.
Further, your being in customers’ homes and businesses is likely prompting them to ask how you’ve finetuned your work processes for COVID-19. They want you to ensure they aren’t put at risk by you unintentionally spreading the disease.
With COVID-19 now a pandemic, it is crucial for the health of you, your staff and your customers that you fully understand the facts about the virus. It is also crucial that you take all the necessary steps to protect yourself and others from the potential of infection.
And if you are in, or looking to diversify into, cleaning services then we also suggest you undertake an industry short course on infection control cleaning.
With these strategies in place, you can more comfortably continue running your business armed with appropriate information.
Understanding the facts of COVID-19
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, which began emerging in late December 2019. A disease affecting the respiratory system, symptoms can range from a mild illness to pneumonia. It is especially dangerous for the elderly and people with a compromised immune system.
At the time of writing, people infected with COVID-19 are required to self-isolate for 14 days. As are those arriving into Australian borders by air or sea (borders that are now closed off to non-residents).
Further, anyone who is sick and has symptoms of COVID-19 is required to contact a medical professional to have themselves tested at any one of the testing centres now set up across Australia.
There is a ton of information about COVID-19 being produced by all manner of reputable sources. The World Health Organisation has plenty of facts, including this interesting statement:
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses… may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
The NSW Health website is also a great resource, containing these FAQs and much more: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx.
Further, you can keep yourself abreast of the current status and governmental response by visiting the Latest News area of https://www.health.gov.au/. Rolling news updates about COVID-19 can be accessed at www.news.com.au.
If you are undertaking COVID-19 related cleaning services, or are touching surfaces you think may be contaminated, we suggest you seek information from reputable sources. Either that or do the COVID-19 cleaning training mentioned above. This will help ensure you are using best practice methods.
Peak bodies such as the Building Services Contractors Association of Australia are providing guidance for members to make sure they have correct training and procedures in place.
If you are doing your own research then look to your state government health website for reliable information. For example, NSW Health provides these Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Principles and QLD Health provides these Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines.
Both say thorough cleaning of surfaces followed by disinfection is vital, as is ensuring your hands are squeaky clean when touching any surface. Importantly, the disinfectant should be one where the manufacturer claims ‘antiviral activity’. This means it can kill the virus.
You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and transferring the germs onto yourself (or transferring them from yourself onto a client’s surfaces).
Wearing impermeable surgical gloves, a surgical mask and protective eye wear or a face shield are also recommended for those in the cleaning profession. Washing your hands before and after putting these on is a must too.
If you want to run a COVID-19 aware business, we can’t stress enough the importance of carefully reading the above-mentioned principles and guidelines for more detailed information. Choice also has a great article about cleaning to avoid COVID-19 – read it here.
Necessary steps – hand washing and other germ prevention strategies
Frequent hand washing is essential in keeping the germs at bay. Please see here for hand washing techniques that will optimise your personal hygiene and reduce the risk of transferring the virus to your system.
Remember: it’s the thorough rubbing with soap that you do when washing that breaks up the virus, not the soap simply being on your hands.
If you can’t access soap and water during your property visit then use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Be sure to rub it over all the surfaces of your hands and continue rubbing until they feel dry. You may also want to invest in, or use, cleaning wipes to further your cleanliness efforts.
As mentioned above, another strategy for staying well is to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Necessary steps – properly cleaning your equipment and other tools
No doubt you are already in the habit of regularly cleaning your PPE and other equipment. Now is the time to step it up. Consider the tremendous health benefits of cleaning everything you use on a job as soon as you finish that job. And doing so each time.
Not to mention being diligent with what is usually your biggest tool – your car. We can’t stress enough the importance of sanitising every surface that you come into contact with throughout your workday.
Getting into the car? Whether that’s from home, a job or elsewhere, make sure your body parts that will come into contact with any car parts (or anything inside the car) are fully washed and disinfected before even touching the door handle.
Getting out of the car? Give your hands and relevant body parts another thorough clean just in case, before entering and touching a property in any way.
‘Better safe than sorry’ is a great motto to lead your work activities by now. That will go a long way to helping you run a COVID-19 aware business.
Further business protection tactics
Using these tactics and more will help to keep you, your staff and your customers healthy and happy. Once you get into the habit of doing so – and it will likely be some time before you can step them back a little – these measures will simply become a matter of course.
Our last word on protection during this challenging time? As always, be sure to keep clear records of chemicals you use and the treatments you apply. You should also be creating a Safe Work Statement for each job and keep your business insurance up to date.
Protect yourself, your staff, your clients and your business in every way possible. You will find the rewards are well worth it.
*Disclaimer: this information was accurate at the time of publishing (25 March 2020). Please refer to the WHO website here for the latest accurate information.