As the mercury on the thermometer drops, campaigns to stop the spread of the common cold and flu begin to rise. Now, in addition to the cold and flu, we have COVID-19, a new virus that, like the cold and flu, is also spread by respiratory droplets of an infected person and can survive on a variety of surfaces. Fortunately, all of these viruses can be deactivated with numerous disinfectants. And you can mitigate their spread by implementing changes to maintenance protocols. Adopting the following best practices for maintaining washrooms will reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, as well as the flu and the common cold.
Clean and disinfect
Depending on the use of your facility, more frequent cleaning and disinfecting is crucial for reducing the spread of infection. Baby change tables may be used, however, they will require frequent cleaning and disinfection. Begin by cleaning visibly soiled high-touch surfaces. Then use a disinfectant that has been approved by Health Canada and make sure surfaces remain wet for the entire contact time indicated on the label. If hands-free fixtures and appliances cannot be installed, more frequent cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces is required.
Promote good hand hygiene practices
Good hand hygiene is an essential practice in the prevention of the spread of viruses so it’s important to demonstrate proper technique. Post signage with clear pictograms at all sinks. Though no studies have indicated that COVID-19 can be transmitted through electric air dryers, studies have shown that air dryers can spread bacteria, so paper towels are the best choice for hand drying. Hands-free faucets are ideal, but if your faucets are manual, indicate that taps should be turned off using paper towels. Keep soap and paper towel dispensers filled at all times and make hand sanitizer available at the entrance/exit.
Support physical distancing
It’s difficult to imagine people wanting to gather in a public washroom, but space is usually limited so it’s important to clearly indicate social distancing requirements. Proper spacing inside the washroom means fewer users at one time, so lineups are more likely. Post signage outside the washroom to explain the physical distancing and indicate maximum occupancy. Use floor markers to indicate the 2m (6 foot) spacing both outside and inside the washroom. In some facilities, certain sinks and or urinals may need to be decommissioned (taped off) if adequate spacing cannot be maintained in the current configuration.
Additional precautions during COVID-19
If possible, adopt a policy that requires customers to wear non-medical masks when entering your premises and make your best effort to only allow entry to customers wearing a face covering. Post face covering signs outside public washrooms and increase ventilation in your facilities. We won’t be living in a pandemic forever, but the use of best practices is one of the ways you can do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19.