05 October 2021
A New Frontier for the Cleaning Sector
John Barrett, Executive Director, ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Association, outlines the possible Indian strategies and hygiene factors to prevent another deadly outbreak, enhanced by examples from other region
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020, the disease has spread to every corner of the world. To date, more than 230 million cases and more than 4.7 million deaths have been reported worldwide. Earlier this summer, public health officials in India labeled the Delta Plus variant, a mutation of the Delta strain first identified in the country, as a variant of concern.So, how can India implement successful infectious disease prevention measures and usher in a new frontier of commercial cleaning that upholds health, safety, and wellness?
COVID-19 Learnings from Around the World
The high rate of COVID-19 cases in India was exacerbated by issues such as overpopulation, widespread poverty, and lack of awareness around hygiene practices. Thankfully, some parts of the world are at a turning point in the pandemic and can serve as a reference point for the country to emulate.
The following strategies can help India better prepare for, respond to, and recover from today’s and tomorrow’s biorisks:
- Securing accreditation for cleaning protocols – Formal accreditation for cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention is key to overcoming COVID-19 and future risks. Today, facilities of all types and sizes, cleaning service providers, and even destinations can pursue accreditation through GBAC STAR from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council™, a Division of ISSA. Accreditation is valid globally and requires compliance with 20 key elements, such as program controls and monitoring, tools and equipment, emergency preparedness and response, and more. Thousands of facilities have achieved or are pursuing accreditation, which ensures consistency in cleanliness standards.
- Managingindoor air quality – Because COVID-19 spreads via airborne particles and droplets, indoor air quality (IAQ) is now a major concern. Monitoring and taking steps to improve IAQ can help reduce the spread of pathogens and other irritants and pollutants that can negatively impact the wellbeing of building occupants and visitors. Restaurants across the U.S.are installing new filters and air purifiers, enhancing ventilation, and exploring ultraviolet (UV-C) disinfection to make indoor air safer and give diners greater peace of mind.
- Enforcing occupancy controls – Because overcrowding increases the risk of COVID-19 spreading, social distancing is essential. The metro system in Paris utilizes effective social distancing measures, like stickers to mark seats as off-limits and markers on platforms and in train cars to highlight where to stand. Additionally, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) implemented floor markings for queuing in stadiums and specific entry time slots for ticket holders attending matches to reduce overcrowding at entry points and in other areas of the venues. Phased reopenings have also proved successful at larger venues in the United States, which allow for increasing occupancy as vaccinations rates rise.
- Using approved and safe chemicals – The pandemic resulted in a drastic rise in the use of cleaning chemicals because many facilities cleaned more frequently and thoroughly. However, many cleaning chemicals contain potentially toxic ingredients. To protect the health and safety of cleaning professionals and those who frequent these facilities, it’s important to use products that are free from unsafe ingredients and have also been vetted by a third party. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has List N, which details disinfectants that meet criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2. It’s also a best practice to review the product label to understand the potential risks, any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), recommended contact times that ensure product efficacy, and more.
Cleanliness Creates a Bright Future
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a shock to cities around the world, it’s also placed the cleaning industry in a unique position. The crisis has put a spotlight on cleaning for health and personal hygiene and they will continue to be priorities moving forward.
With the right best practices in place, cleaning service providers, facility managers, and entire communities throughout India, can overcome some of the country’s main challenges and be better prepared for infectious disease risks that arise in the future.
John Barrett is the executive director at ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association. Learn more about ISSA at www.issa.com