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Coronavirus COVID-19 Resource Hub:

A resource for businesses

Covid header

The Path Forward

In March 2020, we established this dedicated hub as a business resource for our customers to help them manage day-to-day operations when navigating the growing risks associated with COVID-19. As the pandemic and responses to it evolve, we continue to provide content and resources here.

  • How will COVID-19 developments impact and define the challenges ahead?
  • How do businesses and their employees best move forward and adapt to the COVID-19 workplace?
  • How do all of us participate in building a safer, more resilient future?

Lessons and resources to help companies remain open during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We share ideas you can implement to build resilience.

Business travel has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many companies are resuming the practice. Here are some travel safety tips to consider. 

Employer focus on mental wellness can help smooth transitions back to offices, retail businesses and other workplaces following COVID shutdowns.

Facility and office disinfection during the COVID-19 crisis
Sep 21, 2021

COVID-19 has brought new urgency to cleaning and disinfecting business facilities. It’s vital to have a comprehensive plan, tailored to your worksite, to help prevent the spread.

For employers that already have a cleaning program that addresses seasonal influenza outbreaks, a COVID-19 plan may simply involve updating that program to address the specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, routes of transmission, and other unique characteristics of COVID-19, according to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).1

A strong program should address four important components: the areas to be cleaned and disinfected; frequency of cleaning; the cleaning and disinfecting materials to be used; and material-specific cleaning procedures and techniques.

Targeting commonly used areas

The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets in the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Though it is possible for people to become infected if they touch a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth; the CDC reports that the risk of infection from touching a surface is now considered low. It is important, however, to continue to clean and disinfect surfaces.3

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that routine cleaning should be appropriate for most areas of a facility. However, given the length of time the coronavirus can linger on certain surfaces, some commonly used items may require more frequent cleaning, as often as several times each day. These include:3

  • Doorknobs
  • Elevator buttons
  • Light switches
  • Faucet handles
  • Publicly used telephones
  • Computer monitors, mice and keyboards
  • Countertops and conference tables
  • Cafeteria tables, coffee pots and vending equipment

Additional areas unique to your facility may also require frequent cleaning. Include these in your company’s cleaning program. Remember, too, that your plan should match the significance of the cleaning and disinfection task. For example, the cleaning plan for a hospital emergency room may be different from that of an office or retail occupancy.

As an extra precaution, consider providing disinfecting wipes to employees and have them available in shared spaces such as conference rooms, group workspaces, the cafeteria and other social gathering areas. The CDC also suggests temporarily removing items such as extra chairs, area rugs, etc., to reduce objects that require cleaning.3

When to clean and/or disinfect

Fortunately, “the virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed if you use the right products,” notes the CDC.3 Disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are recommended whenever they are available and can be found here.4 The EPA also offers a searchable list on its website for products that can be used to fight COVID-19.5

The CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting practices includes:

  • Cleaning with household cleaners containing soap or detergent reduces germs on surfaces by removing contaminants and decreases risk of infection from surfaces.
  • When no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space,cleaning once a day is usually sufficient to remove virus that may be on surfaces.
  • Disinfecting (using the EPA’s List N of disinfectants) kills any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
  • You may want to either clean more frequently or choose to disinfect (in addition to cleaning) in shared spaces if the space is a high-traffic area or if certain conditions apply that can increase the risk of infection from touching surfaces:

High transmission of COVID-19 in your community;
- Low vaccination rates in your community;
- Infrequent use of other prevention measures, such as mask wearing (among unvaccinated people) and hand hygiene; or
- The space is occupied by people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19

  • If there has been a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in your facility within the last 24 hours, you should clean AND disinfect the space.
  • The effectiveness of alternative surface disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high-intensity UV radiation, and LED blue light against the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been fully established.
  • CDC does not recommend the use of sanitizing tunnels. Currently, there is no evidence that sanitizing tunnels are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Chemicals used in sanitizing tunnels could cause skin, eye, or respiratory irritation or injury.
  • In most cases, fogging, fumigation, and wide-area or electrostatic spraying are not recommended as primary methods of surface disinfection and have several safety risks to consider, unless specified as a method of application on the product label.”

Working with janitorial staffs or cleaning services

Whether your business has in-house janitorial staff or a contract cleaning service, it’s important that your cleaning plan helps ensure all parties understand their responsibilities. The CDC recommends including safety measures to protect these workers, who are at increased risk of being exposed to the virus as well as any toxic effects from the cleaning products.3

All janitorial staff or cleaning service providers should receive training on the proper use of any chemicals, cleaning agents and cleaning equipment. As appropriate, additional training should be provided on the use of appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles and hearing protection.

Service-level agreements are important for both the company and the cleaning service, to help avoid potential misunderstandings and disputes about responsibilities and expectations for each party. A written service-level agreement should include, at a minimum, the four key areas described earlier. Additional items should be added to the contract to address any specific situations as they apply to your facility. Legal counsel should review the terms and conditions of any service-level agreement.

Additional safety precautions

A strong cleaning and disinfection plan can be a critical part of minimizing the spread of COVID-19, but it cannot exist in a vacuum. It needs to be part of a larger initiative that includes social distancing and other behaviors followed by everyone in your facility. Adherence to good personal hygiene, proper hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette is especially important to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace and the community. Businesses may also wish to implement additional actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

1. “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVD-19.” Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). 2020.
2. “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1.” The New England Journal of Medicine. 16 April 2020.
3. “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 June 2021
4. “Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.” Environmental Protection Agency. 30 April 2020.
5. “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 17 July 2021.

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable and is intended for informational purposes only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy. Risk Engineering services are provided by The Zurich Services Corporation.

 

For more information on COVID-19 visit Zurich's Coronavirus Resource Hub

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