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Preventive considerations for mitigating infection risk

Skip Schramer

Preventive considerations for mitigating infection risk

Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pre-contamination protocol

As experts in creating clean, safe and healthy environments, we at ServiceMaster Clean would like to share our expertise to help you enhance preventive protocols for your office.

The current flu season, along with the outbreak of a newer pathogen, COVID-19, offers an opportunity to reinforce the importance of keeping employees’ workspaces clean, safe, and healthy. Our experience and training in health care spaces afford us the ability to promote safe practices for infection prevention within all businesses. Aligned with the CDC recommendations, ServiceMaster has preventive solutions for all types of illnesses as well as COVID-19.

Actionable plans for businesses today:

CDC Recommendations

ServiceMaster Solutions

1. Emphasize hand hygiene by all employees.1

  1. Perform frequent hand washing using soap and water for 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice) or use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
  2. If possible, use no-touch dispensers (e.g., paper towels, sinks, soap).
  3. Post ServiceMaster hand hygiene process posters in hand washing areas.
  4. Keep an adequate supply of products and monitor

shelf life.

2. Emphasize respiratory etiquette by all employees.1

  1. Employees should cover the nose and mouth nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If tissue is not available, use elbow or shoulder to cover your mouth.
  2. Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans and other disposal receptacles for use by employees.

 

3. Perform routine environmental cleaning focused on high-touch surfaces.1

  1. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the workplace nightly, focusing on common gathering areas (e.g., door handles, light switches, stair rails, elevator buttons, phones, microwaves, coffee stations, sink handles, water fountains, chair arms, shared workstations or learning materials, dining tables).
  2. Provide disposable wipes for employees to clean and disinfect commonly used or high-touch surfaces

between use.

4. Encourage sick employees to stay home, separating and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.1

  1. Actively encourage employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness to stay home until they are free of fever (100.4° F or lower as measured by an oral thermometer) and other symptoms for 24 hours without medication.
  2. Maintain flexible policies, consistent with public health guidance, that permit employees to stay home .
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

5. Advise employees to take safe travel steps.1

  1. Check CDC travelers’ health notices, especially when traveling internationally.
  2. Have a plan for employees if they become sick during travel; promptly call a provider for help if

needed.

6. Additional measures with COVID-19: Employees who are well but have a family member with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and other employees in the

workplace.1

  1. Make sure employees notify their supervisors if they have a family member who is sick at home with COVID-19.
  2. In that case, notify other employees of potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality.
  3. If possible, have plans in place for working remotely in the event of an outbreak.

 

Frequently asked questions:

What is Coronavirus, COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an enveloped virus causing mild to severe respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. It was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.2

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, which may appear 2-14 days post exposure.2

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person between those in close contact (within ~6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may be possible for a person to get the virus by touching a surface or object and then touching their own nose, mouth, or possibly eyes, although at this time this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.2

What are simple, everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.2

Which disinfectants are effective against COVID-19?

Because the virus is so new, the EPA has not tested and established efficacy protocols or inactivation claims. The EPA has issued “Guidance to registrants: process for making claims against emerging viral pathogens not on EPA-registered disinfectant labels,” 3 which at this time establishes approved products. An eligible product must meet the criteria in the document in order to make limited claims about disinfectant efficacy.

ServiceMaster disinfectants that can make this claim in line with dwell times and product labels are Peridox, Virex Plus, Sanimaster 7, Sanimaster 6, and Decon 30.

What is disinfectant dwell time?

Dwell time is the required period that a surface must remain wet in order for a disinfectant to achieve full efficacy.

 

In closing:

It is important to keep in mind that COVID-19 is a new and emerging pathogen. Regulators are just beginning to understand COVID-19 — how it spreads, the incubation period, length and severity of illness — knowledge that will develop over time. We will continue to update you as the CDC, EPA, FDA, and OSHA provide more information.

We also want you to know that, while we hope it will not be necessary, ServiceMaster is qualified and equipped with the required protocols and processes should any pathogen outbreak occur within your facility. Please call us if we can be of service.

References:

  1. CDC interim guidance for employers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html
  2. CDC how COVID-19 spreads: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/about/transmission.html
  3. Environmental Protection Agency, Emerging Viral Pathogen Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/emerging-viral-pathogen- guidance-antimicrobial-pesticides

For More Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Summary. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html

Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/community/index.html

Food and Drug Administration, Coronavirus: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and- response/mcm-issues/novel-coronavirus-covid-19

World Health Organization, Coronavirus: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2019 Novel Coronavirus: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/novel_coronavirus/