As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus.
Coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces. It can be passed on to others who touch the same surfaces. Keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business ‘COVID-secure’.
This guidance will help you to clean your workplace to reduce risk. You may need to increase how often and how thoroughly you normally clean, as well as cleaning surfaces that you do not normally clean.
If you are cleaning because of a known or suspected case of COVID-19 in your workplace you should follow the guidance COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings on GOV.UK.
Before you can decide what cleaning is suitable for your situation, you’ll need to do a risk assessment to help you manage risk and decide how best to work safely and protect people during coronavirus.
Clean to reduce risk from coronavirus
Your risk assessment will help you to identify what your cleaning regime will look like, but there are some general things that you should consider.
Identify frequently touched surfaces
Doors, bannisters, buttons and anything that is frequently touched, especially if it’s touched by lots of people, will need more regular cleaning than normal. Examples of frequently touched objects include:
- work surfaces like desks, platforms and workstations
- handles on doors, windows, rails, dispensers and water coolers
- common areas like toilets, reception, changing rooms, corridors and lifts
- vehicle handles, steering wheel, seat belts and internal surfaces
- control panels for machinery, control pads and switches
- computer keyboards, printers, touch screens, monitors and phones
- taps, kettles, water heaters, fridges, microwaves and cupboards
- shared equipment like tools, machines, vehicles, pallet trucks and delivery boxes
- post and goods coming in or being shopped out
Put in place measures to clean surfaces and objects after each use where possible, for example phones and conferencing facilities in a meeting room. If it’s not practical to clean after each use, for example lift buttons that are used continuously throughout the day, make sure they are cleaned often.
There are 2 components in adequate cleaning regimes.
Deep cleaning is a thorough clean of all frequently touched surfaces at least once per day.
Periodic cleaning is cleaning at different times throughout the day. Periodic cleaning can include cleaning items immediately after use as well as cleaning surfaces on a regular basis throughout a single day.
Reduce the need for cleaning
Reducing people’s contact with surfaces and objects is better than relying on cleaning once contact has taken place. Think about how you can change the way you work to:
- limit movement of people around your workplace as far as possible
- reduce people’s need to touch surfaces or objects
Ways you could limit movement or reduce people’s need to touch object that you can consider include:
- can you allocate specific work areas or vehicles to specific people?
- creating small groups that can work independently on tasks
- close off spare workstations and put away items are that you don’t have to leave available for use
- prop open doors to avoid the need to touch handles (excluding fire doors or other doors that must be kept closed)
- can you fit automatic sensor operated doors or fit foot plates to doors so that they can be opened with feet rather than hands?
- issue door hooks to workers so they don’t have to touch handles
- reduce equipment available to reduce the amount that needs to be cleaned
Find out more about what you can do to work safely and protect people during coronavirus.
Some organisations may decide to have full-time cleaning teams. Smaller organisations may need fewer cleaning staff. Other workers can also play a part. You should determine what is needed for your business based on your risk assessment.
Provide cleaning staff with their usual personal protection equipment (PPE) for cleaning where this is necessary. Additional PPE to protect against COVID-19 is not required.
Cleaners should maintain social distancing while cleaning and wash their hands with soap and water when they finish work. You should provide hand sanitiser when washing facilities aren’t close by.
More information on how to wash your hands is available from NHS.uk
Ensure cleaning staff receive good instructions and understand the importance of carrying out thorough cleaning properly.
Talk to your workers and provide information
Talk to all your workers and encourage them to co-operate with cleaners. They can make sure that surfaces are left clear at the end of the day so that deep cleaning can be done more effectively. Papers or items left on surfaces might make cleaning less effective.
Keeping people informed about any changes to cleaning, and the reasons for it, reduces the chance of uncooperative staff. It may also reassure your workers that you are doing what you can to keep them safe.
Use posters to inform people that regular cleaning will take place and that they should co-operate with cleaners.
Where you expect users to clean equipment after use as part of your cleaning regime, posters can help to remind people of their responsibilities.
Your usual cleaning products should be effective. If you change your usual regime then check that products are suitable for the surface and environment. Clean cloths and other reusable cleaning products in soap and water after use.
Store cleaning products safely and always use them at the concentration as directed by the manufacturer recommendations.
Further guidance on GOV.UK
The government has guidance specific to 8 different types of workplaces to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Each guide includes a section on cleaning.