Cleaning industry should not forget lessons learned from pandemic

Workplace health and safety measures should be considered as non-negotiable elements that can never be neglected. This, says specialised cleaning services provider Fidelity Cleaning Services, should be seen as the single biggest lesson learned from 2020.

“The pandemic has tested most aspects of the South African economy, and the cleaning sector is no exception. We have all had to learn how to reinvent ourselves and how to put the safety and health of our customers and personnel front and centre in everything we do and protect them from the coronavirus.

“Whatever the next few weeks or months hold in store, we simply cannot let these lessons go to waste,” says Wahl Bartmann, Group CEO of Fidelity Services.

Fidelity Cleaning Services is a member of the Fidelity Services Group and provides specialised cleaning services to corporate customers.

“As an industry, we need to show our customers that we understand the importance of strict healthcare and safety measures when it comes to workplace cleaning. It should not matter if you are cleaning an office to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or just doing a more ‘routine’ deep clean, your focus should be on the best interest of your customer at all times,” says Bartmann.

Operators in the cleaning industry need to ensure they are up to date with latest cleaning protocols that have been set down for the sector, he adds. 

“Our efforts to assist customers are based on guidelines published by The World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on the advice provided by local health authorities in South Africa.”

Important health and safety measures were implemented during 2020 to deal with the spread of the coronavirus, says Bartmann, and the key aspects of these measures should remain in place for as long as reasonable. 

“At heart, these measures deal with the transmission of a virus and the sort of cleaning and health measures that could prevent its spread. My recommendation is that everyone in a workspace environment keep these measures in place.”

The measures include:

  • Display posters promoting hand-washing – Informational and educational posters can be downloaded from a number of websites, such as the South African Government and the CDC. Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at internal meetings, and information on intranet sites to promote hand-washing
  • Ensure that face masks or paper tissues are available for everyone at your workplace, along with closed bins that allow for its hygienic disposal. Face masks and paper tissues are especially important for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work
  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic – Surfaces that are touched regularly (such as door handles, desks, tables, phones and keyboards) need to be wiped down and disinfected regularly with an approved QAC or sanitising product. Products that are used must be SANS 1828 and NCRS approved
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers – Put sanitising hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled with approved products.
  • Prepare for the best, but plan for the worst – Ensure that you have accurate contact details for any employee or visitor on hand, so that everyone could be contacted in case of an infection that occurs to anyone that visited your workplace. Allocate a room or a space where anyone that possibly thinks they have fallen ill, can be kept isolated until they can safely be transported for medical treatment if this becomes necessary
  • Proper disposal of PPE equipment / Environmental awareness must be adhered to, to ensure PPE is disposed by authorised waste disposers according to Waste Classification and Management Regulations, 2013, published under Government Notice R634 in Gazette No. 36784 of 23 August 2013
  • Strict Screening procedures – needs to remain in place to ensure every single person entering a workplace is screened and authorised to enter the workplace. Any queries can be referred to the onsite nurse for clarification

“No one is entirely sure of what the new year holds in store for us. The best way to approach 2021 is to remember the hard lessons that 2020 has taught us, so that we are as best prepared as possible for what lies ahead.

“The cleaning industry has an enormous responsibility that rests on its shoulders to guide South Africans safely into the future,” says Bartmann.

Fidelity Cleaning Services: webste-

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