If You're Open, Practice Pandemic Cleaning Procedures

Posted by: Gail Cecchettini Whaley, J.D. on Thursday, April 9, 2020

Not all businesses are closed during this pandemic. Some essential businesses remain open and some essential workers may occasionally enter office spaces to administer payroll, cut checks, etc. One thing we have learned in recent weeks is that the COVID-19 virus can remain on hard surfaces, like a doorknob, phone or keyboard, for days.

Have you reached the point where you find yourself disinfecting the outside of your Clorox wipes container? Yes, even the disinfectant container may need to be wiped down! "By touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes," a person could become ill with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, warned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This makes cleaning office spaces incredibly import — and even more important after a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the facility.

Everyday Cleaning Strategies

When are surfaces free from the virus? Stay on top of best practices by frequently visiting the guidance from CDC, as updates are regularly made.

CDC guidance is to practice routine and frequent cleaning with soap and water, AND disinfecting of objects and surfaces that are frequently touched — keyboards, desk space, phones, doorknobs, handrails, etc. Disposable gloves should be worn to clean and disinfect. OSHA also provides workplace cleaning information.

To disinfect, use products that meet EPA's criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2. Using diluted bleach or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also work.

If open for business, employees should avoid using other employees' phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.

The guidance also discusses how to clean soft surfaces, like carpets and curtains and how to launder towels, clothes, or other linens. (Healthcare operations have their own guidance not covered here.)

Cleaning After Someone in Your Building Has Suspected/Confirmed COVID

If someone has entered your business who is either suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, cleaning and disinfection is extremely important and CDC has updated recommendations. Review all of the CDC recommendations.

At a minimum:

  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
  • If more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routine cleaning and disinfection.

For more information on potential workplace COVID-19 exposure, see CEA's Checklist for Employee Tested Positive for COVID-19 in HR Forms, COVID-19

Additional Guidance from CDC

The CDC has these additional recommendations for businesses that remain open.

  • Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
  • Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff onsite prior to providing cleaning tasks.
    • Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
  • Ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA's Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).

CEA is here to help. We have compiled numerous free resources for California businesses coping with this pandemic. Members also have access to COVID-19 forms and checklists and unlimited HR phone support. Interested in membership? Call Us: 800-399-5331.

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