We are well into our Phase 2 of Covid measures. While the Inter – Ministry Covid Task Force is still recommending office workers to work from home (WFH), more businesses have began to allow their workers to go back to work in the office, albeit on a need to go basis. We have been seeing more requests lately to do a thorough cleaning before welcoming their staff back, especially since most offices would have been unoccupied for the past 6 months or so. Why is it suggested to clean and disinfect your office before you send your co-workers back to work?
“COVID-19 can be acquired through contact with surfaces contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Laboratory tests have demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on environmental surfaces for two to three days, and a study conducted by the Environmental Health Institute of the NEA has detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on surfaces of a room occupied by a case.”‘ This comes from a NEA advisory issued on 30 July 2020.
Even an unoccupied office will become dusty. Dust can enter through the air conditioning system and through the gap between door and the flooring and any other small openings in the office. The layer of dust on table surfaces should be cleaned up before they are used. This is especially important for the pantry area for hygiene reasons. Also, if the office environment has not been well ventilated, mould formation is more likely. This should be cleared prior to allowing workers back. People who are sensitive to mould will experience symptoms like sneezing, red eyes or itchy eyes / skin and wheezing. Those with allergic reactions and asthma may display more severe reactions.
Guidelines from NEA indicate that a general wipe-down of surfaces with an effective disinfectant solutions is recommended. There are various modes of applying disinfectant, depending on the purpose and the type of solution used. Generally speaking, we find that for a standard commercial user ie an office, spraying on the disinfectant and wiping down of various hard surfaces is an effective application method. It is somewhat labour intensive as all surfaces will need to be wiped down manually. This includes not only what are termed as “high touch areas” like door handles, door panels, reception areas etc, but other areas including the office equipment and furniture etc. We also would recommend cleaning the carpet with the disinfecting solution at the same time.
The whole process will take from 2 hours upwards depending on the size of the office.
Commercial cleaning companies will be able to provide this service. Set aside a day to allow the office to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before opening up the office to your co-workers and visitors. Alternatively you can instruct the daily office cleaner to wipe down your office tables, cabinets and equipment. Do provide her with suitable cleaning agents and equipment to do the job properly.