Safety and OSHA News

Feds offer guidance on cleaning workplaces post coronavirus

Employers are getting federal guidance on how to properly clean and disinfect their facilities before re-opening from coronavirus-related closures. 

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control issued guidance April 29 providing step-by-step instruction for post-pandemic cleaning and disinfecting of workplaces, public spaces, businesses, schools and homes.

Proper cleaning and disinfecting are important in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release on the joint EPA/CDC guidance.

This guidance offers a three-step process for preparing workplaces and other spaces for re-opening:

  1. Develop a plan. Determine what needs cleaned, how to disinfect it and what resources and equipment are needed to do so.
  2. Implement the plan. Clean visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water, use an appropriate disinfectant product and be sure to follow the directions on the label.
  3. Maintain and revise the plan. Continue to routinely clean and disinfect while maintaining safe practices like frequent hand washing and using cloth face coverings, and continue to reduce the potential of exposure by maintaining social distancing.

To aid in creating a plan, the guidance also provides a cleaning and disinfecting decision tool.

To properly clean and disinfect surfaces to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, a two-step process should be followed:

  1. Use soap and water to remove germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces, which lowers the risk of spreading infection.
  2. Use disinfectants to kill germs still living on surfaces to further lower the risk of spreading infection.

The EPA has a list of disinfectant products – including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates and wipes – that are effective against the coronavirus.

However, the agency reminds users to follow product label instructions and safety information closely, including:

  • leaving product on surfaces long enough to kill germs
  • rinsing the product off to avoid ingesting it, and
  • placing the product out of reach of children immediately.

Further, the EPA and CDC caution against over-using or stockpiling disinfectants and PPE, such as gloves or masks, to avoid shortages of these products which are also needed for emergencies.

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