NORTHBROOK, Ill.—April 7, 2020—In this edition of Straight Talk With Jeff Cross, Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, discusses best practices for front-line cleaning professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner, an expert in emergency management and infectious disease response, is currently working in hospitals with both the healthcare and cleaning staff on fine-tuning personal protection and cleaning protocols to better protect all staff members from the threat of infection from the coronavirus.

Dr. Macgregor-Skinner noted that many hospitals have activated their “instant command systems” to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis. These systems typically do not include a member of the cleaning staff, but Macgregor-Skinner said for the first time in his career, he is seeing more hospitals include cleaning professionals on their command teams as proper cleaning and disinfection is recognized as paramount to fighting the spread of the virus.

“We’re taking more of a team-based approach in many of the businesses, the organizations, and also the hospitals. There’s always a hierarchy, but hierarchical organizational structures don’t work well when there’s an emergency like an infectious disease outbreak, and it’s really important that everyone on the team has the ability to speak up, especially when it comes to working in high-risk environments where there’s a high viral load,” said Dr. Macgregor-Skinner.

Regarding specific cleaning protocols, he notes that many hospitals have carpeted areas and vacuuming carpet presents a risk of aerosolizing the virus. High-quality vacuums with top-of-the line filtration reduces this risk, but does not eliminate it, so it’s important for cleaning professionals to wear protective equipment over their eyes, nose, and mouth. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner also discovered that many cleaning teams were not disinfecting vacuum cleaners between uses, which presents a risk of the vacuum itself spreading the virus from one area of the hospital to another. “We’ve now focused on how to clean and disinfect vacuum cleaners, as well as make sure they’re maintained properly so they work properly and as efficiently as they’ve been designed to decrease that risk,” said Dr. Macgregor-Skinner.

On the importance of cleaning professionals in fighting the pandemic, Dr. Macgregor-Skinner asserts that they are essential and their health and safety when cleaning contaminated environments should be of paramount concern. “Every time there’s something happening in a grocery store, a nursing home, an assisted living [facility], or even in a hospital, the knee-jerk reaction is, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll just send in the professional cleaners,’ without any thought of have we done our risk assessment first before we put the professional cleaners at risk, who are essential employees and part of the frontline worker community when it comes to beating this coronavirus disease,” said Dr. Macgregor-Skinner. He asserts that planning and risk assessment are necessary steps before professional cleaners are deployed.

Watch the complete episode of Straight Talk with Jeff Cross below, and find more Straight Talk episodes on cleanfax.com.