The industry needs a new hygiene standard, argues Mike Boxall.
In the lead-up to buildings becoming reoccupied, the focus on cleaning needs to change. Previously, outside of the healthcare sector, the emphasis was on visual standards of cleanliness. Does the space look clean? Is it free from dirt and debris? Does it provide a good first impression? This must shift to an enhanced hygiene standard. Is the space free from contamination? Is it keeping people safe?
Until a vaccine for Covid-19 is found, organisations need to protect their people with a hygiene-focused cleaning regime. This is not just a Covid-19 issue. Colds and flu are also transmitted through poor hygiene, most often in the workplace.
A hygiene-centred approach involves identifying the areas of a building where the risk of contamination to users is high – common areas, door handles, lifts and stairway railings, taps and dispensers – and then cleaning them at an appropriate frequency.
“It’s not enough to have a bottle of antibacterial gel on reception”
Making sure that spaces are hygienic minimises the risk of workplace contamination. It also demonstrates the employer’s duty of care.
And organisations need to drive the behaviours of occupants to remind them to wash their hands after passing through a high-risk area – not just after they’ve been in the washroom. That can be through indicators in high-intensity touch areas, for example, as well as advice on handwashing techniques in bathrooms.
People need assurances that their workplace is safe. With a hygiene-focused approach to cleaning, FMs can point to the programme as evidence of the steps they are taking, and the indicators will act as daily reminders to everyone of how to stay safe.
Cleaning and hygiene must be taken seriously. It’s not enough to have a bottle of antibacterial gel on reception; organisations must create a fully hygienic environment for people to work in for the long term.
Mike Boxall is managing director of Sitemark