Our industry is certainly going through a challenging time right now. Hygiene and disinfection are top of mind and even a matter of life and death in some cases. I reached out to Stephen P. Ashkin with The Ashkin Group—The Green Cleaning & Sustainability Experts to get his take on the current coronavirus situation and how to address the virus and he contributed the following very helpful six questions and answers relating to disinfection. Please read through his list—especially paying attention to disinfectant dwell time.
Are we using the right disinfectant?
US EPA has established specific guidelines for disinfectants that are effective against the coronavirus (COVID-19). Thus, ask the disinfectant supplier if theirs meet EPA’s requirements and request a copy of EPA’s letter that it has been approved for their “emerging pathogens” program (I wouldn’t just take a salespersons word on it). As a side note—many disinfectants meet these requirements, but this is the time to check and here is a list from EPA of approved products and I anticipate that EPA will be adding more to this list soon).
Are we diluting the disinfectant correctly?
Most large hotels use concentrated disinfectants along with dilution devices. Dilution devices can be affected by changes in water pressure, contaminants clogging the metering tips, and other issues. Thus, ask housekeeping or their cleaning product distributor(s) if they have checked the dilution devices to determine if they are properly diluting the concentrate. As a side note—inexpensive test strips (just a penny or two each) are readily available for the various types of disinfectants and the devices should be re-calibrated if necessary.
Are we applying the disinfectant properly?
The label on the disinfectant will explain the amount of dwell/contact time the disinfectant must remain on the surface to inactivate the virus—often it is 10 minutes. Unfortunately, some housekeepers get in a hurry and use the disinfectant as a “spray and wipe” cleaner—drying the surface before the disinfectant can do its job. Thus, ask housekeeping if their cleaning process is achieving the required dwell/contact time. If necessary, observe their cleaning process to see how long the disinfectant is left on surfaces before drying and address the process as necessary.
Are all ‘high-touch’ surfaces being disinfected?
The priority for cleaning and disinfecting should be those surfaces that are “high-touch” meaning that lots of people touch them. In general, housekeepers do a good job cleaning and disinfecting guestrooms and public restrooms, but what about things like the hand rail on the escalator, elevator buttons, registration areas, lobbies, computers in the lobby that are used by guests, and other high-touch surfaces and areas? Thus, this is a time to revisit which surfaces and areas are being disinfected as additional cleaning and disinfecting may be necessary.
Is the frequency of disinfecting consistent with CDC recommendations?
Most hotels have established processes which include the frequency that specific areas are cleaned and disinfected. Thus, ask housekeeping to review CDC’s recommendations on cleaning/disinfection frequency and compare CDC’s recommendations to your contract. Make adjustments as necessary.
Are all housekeepers properly trained?
The annual turnover among housekeepers can be as high as 200 percent to 300 percent resulting in some large hotels hiring new housekeepers almost every day. Thus, make sure housekeeping is appropriately training new housekeepers (and reinforcing the training with all housekeepers) to make sure everyone is following the proper protocols for cleaning and disinfection.
“Since the situation is changing quickly, if any of the above questions differ from CDC’s, EPA’s, OSHA’s or the department of health’s recommendations, please follow their recommendations,” Ashkin says. “And I want to stress that this is especially important in the event that a hotel has a confirmed case of the virus or other situation in the community.”
Webinar on COVID-19 Preparations
Stephen P. Ashkin will be holding a webinar entitled, “Preparing for COVID-19,” on Wednesday, March 18 from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. The webinar is free and can accommodate the first 500 people who sign on. The session will be recorded and can be sent to anyone who wants to view it. Here is the webinar information:
Editor’s note: Be sure to check out the technology detailed in this article that is likely effective against COVID-19 (the product kills harder-to-kill viruses): https://www.greenlodgingnews.com/more-on-steam-cleaning-this-time-with-tanc-technology-built-in/. Also see this article.
Earth Hour and Earth Day Activities
Finally, if your property is planning something for Earth Hour on March 28 or Earth Day on April 22, please let me know. Earth Day is especially important this year because of the increasing threats of climate and other change. It is also the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I can be reached at email@example.com.
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