Spring Cleaning Tips For Preventing Viral Spread in Industrial Workplaces

Ron Brown, M.D., CEO of AeroClave

Industrial workplaces and other businesses have been grappling with the challenges posed by rising cases of seasonal viruses such as the flu, norovirus, and other common transmissible infections. As viruses spread, businesses seek effective measures to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. One such measure that can significantly impact the cleanliness of these facilities is spring cleaning or the reprioritizing of sanitation protocols.

The thorough cleaning and disinfection of workspaces, equipment, and common areas can play a crucial role in preventing the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. Surface decontamination is a critical step in this process. By implementing a comprehensive spring-cleaning regimen, industrial workplaces can significantly improve risk reduction. It is important to note that spring cleaning should not be seen as a one-time event but as an ongoing practice, allowing businesses to establish regular cleaning schedules and protocols. In addition to the immediate benefits of preventing viral spread, spring cleaning can also have long-term positive impacts on industrial workplaces such as increased employee morale and productivity.

Industrial environments face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining a clean and safe workspace. For example, the following areas and stipulations can pose obstacles not present in other working environments:

  • Complex Industrial Machinery & Equipment
  • Dust and Debris in Hard-to-Reach Areas
  • Flammable Tools & Surfaces
  • Product Contamination

A comprehensive study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration  (OSHA) explores some of the most effective strategies for minimizing viral spread in an industrial setting. Through surface decontamination, air quality maintenance and personal hygiene education, businesses can assist in eliminating common health hazards even in complex industrial work environments.

Surface Decontamination

High-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and shared tools, are a common source of transmission. In industrial work environments, establishing a comprehensive cleaning schedule for high-traffic areas and equipment can help to overcome the challenges commonly associated with maintaining a clean working space. With an adapted schedule, necessary disinfection can be conducted in a way that doesn’t disrupt manufacturing timelines, and still effectively provides a sanitized workspace. However, in industrial spaces, it is often necessary to hire professional decontamination services or equip sanitation crews with industrial-grade decontamination technology.

Utilizing high-end decontamination technology and best practices such as fogging, electrostatic sprayers, and UV light technology are becoming increasingly important to maintain facility cleanliness. A study conducted by the University of Arizona found cleanliness can directly affect productivity by up to 15%. As the need for this technology grows in importance, innovations and developments in technology for surface decontamination are rising.

Air Quality

Industrial workplaces often have complex HVAC systems that require specialized cleaning techniques such as inspecting refrigerant levels, cleaning condenser and evaporator coils, and tightening electrical connections. These techniques should be conducted at least twice a year by a maintenance professional to ensure optimal performance and the removal of potential contaminants.

Without proper ventilation, industrial employees can be exposed to various pathogens such as industrial dust, welding fumes, gasses, solvent vapors, mists, and more. Poor ventilation practices can lead to the accumulation of these particles as well as viral pollutants, increasing the likelihood of transmission.

Personal Hygiene Practices

Another crucial aspect of creating a contamination-free industrial environment is the promotion of personal hygiene practices among workers. In industrial work facilities, workers are often wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, industrial masks, and eyewear to protect from daily chemical use, large and dangerous equipment, and flammable materials. While hand washing and proper hand sanitization may not be as critical of a practice compared to those in other industries such as healthcare or customer service, proper hand hygiene is still a key preventive measure for mitigating the spread of infectious disease. In industrial facilities, machinery and other equipment are used by numerous individuals within a 24-hour period. Each shift a new group of personnel is handling said equipment; therefore, hand hygiene and overall personal hygiene are important in eliminating the risk between each point of contact.

Breakrooms, mailrooms, and other common areas where PPE isn’t required can be key areas containing high-touch areas and surfaces that can easily carry pathogens. Sanitization practices that start with employee hygiene can help elevate the effectiveness of other practices such as surface decontamination when mitigating contaminants. Installing sanitation stations such as sanitizers in common areas can be a simple stride in creating a safe and healthy environment for industrial workers.

By prioritizing frequent surface cleaning, maintaining good air quality, and promoting personal hygiene practices among workers, industrial facilities can safeguard the health and well-being of their workforce. These practices serve as a valuable resource for industries looking to create safer and more resilient workspaces in the face of the ongoing spread of seasonal infectious diseases.

Facilities that prioritize cleanliness and the adoption of comprehensive cleaning measures regularly, not only play a vital role in mitigating the spread of infectious diseases in society but can also foster positive and dependable working environments. IHW

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