Which industry needs to be sanitized during Covid-19 to operate safely?
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
A country's economy can't sustain the impact of prolonged national lockdowns or Movement Control Orders (MCO) and it takes time for the economy to get back to it's original state. It is up to governments to weigh the balance of the safety and well-being of the public and healthcare workers versus the country's future economy.
In order to achieve that and for the people to operate their business in a safe manner, daily disinfection is necessary to curb the virus outbreak. However, how is this applicable to all industries and how to they differ from one and another? Also, which disinfectant chemicals are more suitable than the other?
The government Ministry of Defense Malaysia have laid out some simple SOPs for the people to follow which included but not limited to, daily disinfection of at least 3 times a day during the period of operation, ensure proper PPE is provided to customers and employees, scan body temperature and provide alcohol hand sanitizers. Then, a disinfection plan is required to fully understand what your business needs.
Also, see the examples below of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection:
faucets and sinks,
gas pump handles,
touch screens, and
So, let's review a few important sector and industry that are crucial to stay open.
Schools are an important part of our lives. It is a place where our kids get educated and their future is shaped. However, it is also a potential COVID-19 breeding and spreading ground. One student is equivalent to one household. So you can imagine the number of household that will be affected if there is one positive case in school.
Refer to the link below for Malaysian Ministry of Education guidelines.
Sanitization of school should be done daily 3 times, including after school hours, as a thorough disinfection is necessary for all classrooms, canteen, bathroom and any other common areas. Fogging liquid disinfectant would be a more efficient method of delivery due to it's large surface area coverage. Older students are encouraged to help disinfecting their desks and classrooms.
Generally, office should be a low risk area as adults tend to be more cautious than younger children. However, when there is a positive case, the entire office needs to shut down and disinfection will be required. Even a close contact case will cost the employer a lot of money to pay for antibody tests for their employees. Overall it will cost the business much more as productivity and morale are affected.
Office sanitization should be done daily 3 times as well. If there are visitations by external visitors/delivery man, any area which have been in contact or parcel delivered would need to be sanitized. 70% alcohol sanitizer spray would be an efficient sanitization tool for office use.
Manufacturing Factories/Construction Sites
This should be a similar case as office but with more frequent sanitization schedule (during break times or shift changes). As workers change over, come in and out from their homes to factory via public transports, anyone entering the factories are potential risks to the factory environment. The true cost of a factory shutdown is extremely high and also detrimental to their entire supply chain. Therefore, sanitization should be done whenever possible.
As the coverage areas are quite large, disinfection via fogging and spraying are a good choice. The chemical should also be non-bleaching and non-corrosive as it may impact the metal of machines or metallic building materials, and other high value assets. Hand sanitizers should be provided everywhere at the common areas where possible.
Banks, Retail (Consumer Goods, F&B)
As these are considered high traffic areas, disinfection schedules should be done whenever possible and not limiting to the minimum number of times required by the government. Employees must be encouraged to disinfect all surfaces regularly using anti bacteria cleaners and provide hand sanitizers with PPE (gloves for clothing stores) for all visitors upon entry.
Healthcare (Hospitals, Clinics)
Generally these sectors should already have a robust disinfection plan in place. However, due to higher traffic than usual, the sanitization plan should revise accordingly and also the choice of chemical disinfectants should be evaluated to take into account for more visitors.
Hospitality (Hotels, Apartment Stays)
When hotels are open to public again, there should be a policy for deep cleaning after every hotel guest checks out and a strict sanitization schedule for common areas. Hospitality sector is very susceptible to reviews and a simple mistake would mark the end of the business.
Transport (Public, Personal and Large Group)
It is prudent for disinfection to be done at the end of the public transport journey, as customer comes in and out from different risk level places.
For taxis or Grab drivers, they should take ownership to disinfect the car seats and handles using alcohol sprays after every change in customer. Customers are looking for a well sanitized car with positive reviews
Even our own household cars that we drive to work or do our groceries, a hand sanitizer is useful to have in the car to spray surfaces. Fogging/misting disinfectant used on a biweekly basis would keep the car's air conditioning unit sanitized.
Guidance for different chemical types
For very large surface areas to cover, we would recommend using QACs or Sodium Hypochlorite dilute solutions (depending on the surface susceptibility to bleaching/rusting effect or not). It is relatively inexpensive, however professional advice is required to recommend safe concentration values. If the value is too high, it may be toxic for food contact surfaces; and if it is too low, it may not be sufficient to sanitize.
For sensitive nature sectors and confined space, it may be more suitable to use Hydrogen Peroxide. The by-product of Hydrogen Peroxide is generally safe and non-toxic but it may have bleaching effects. Hence, care must be taken for application areas and contact time.
Also not forgetting that hand sanitizers should be provided at common areas wherever possible and pleasant scented anti-bacterial soap must be provided at bathrooms to encourage frequent hand washing.
Let's all learn how to stay safe and overcome this pandemic!