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In store sanitising best practice

Retailers are adopting the highest health and safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 once produce reaches their shelves and in store. We interviewed Emma Corder, MD of Industroclean about sanitising best practice in store.

Retailers are adopting the highest health and safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 once produce reaches their shelves. To protect the entire supply chain, high standards of hygiene are required in any event as usual, right from the production process up until when it arrives on retail shelves; to protecting shoppers in store. Retailing Africa asked Emma Corder, managing director of industrial cleaning equipment company Industroclean, about the biggest challenges for retailers and businesses in keeping shops and workplaces sanitised and free from the COVID-19 virus.

1. What are the biggest challenges for retailers in keeping stores clean?
Emma Corder.

In the event that there has been a reduction in staff due to cost-saving initiatives, there could of course be performance issues. Automation of manual cleaning tasks like mopping and sweeping can gain back time and efficiencies. The new norm will have to be automation – the use of cleaning machines going forward. In addition, ensuring that staff are more thoroughly trained in terms of cleaning methodologies; i.e., understanding the difference between cleaning and disinfecting and what cross contamination is. Clear protocols with regards to elements such as cleaning frequencies should also be established and closely monitored. This can be exceptionally challenging in a busy retail environment where a variety of other behaviours need to be monitored too, such as mask wearing and social distancing.

2. How does the consumer feel safe that every retailer has the same standards?

This is a bit of an unusual one because how do you know what is going on behind closed doors? it would differ per individual. It could lead to less people willing to take the gamble of going out to brick and mortar sites and to rather go online. If cleaning is not treated as an essential and visible service going forward, I would expect more clients to stay away from retail stores. Consumers are getting a lot more critical and vocal and retailers and contract cleaning companies need to get back to the basics of cleaning effectively with equipment and quality chemicals that are registered with the NRCS (National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications).

3. Should retailers be communicating more what they are doing to make consumers feel safe?

Yes, I believe so. It is a good idea to proudly promote your cleaning methodologies: the ‘’how, what and when’’ of your hygiene steps that are in place to reassure consumers. This becomes difficult when non-descript low quality cleaning equipment and ‘mystery’ chemicals are utilised and the process becomes commoditised. No value is the end result.

4. Is enough staff training being given to prevent cross-contamination – many of the hotspots in Cape Town happened at factories. How do manufacturers prevent this, when many people are asymptomatic? 

This would depend on each individual company’s policy – there is always value in reminding and educating cleaning staff and workers on hygiene basics and the prevention of cross contamination.

5. You say the public have a role to play as well – what is that role?

Customers are expected to maintain a high level of personal hygiene. They should wear masks when out in public, maintain social distancing and wash and sanitise their hands before and after touching surfaces. This behaviour should be gently enforced by the retailer if customers are spotted not adhering to this – this will ensure that customers and staff feel safe.

6. How safe are all these various disinfectants being sprayed about?

With so many ‘new’ sanitiser companies being set up ‘overnight’, retailers and contract cleaners should be cautious when procuring from the cheapest source possible; always ensure that cleaning chemicals are registered with the NRCS so that they are actually safe and effective.

7. Now there is talk about sanitation tunnels… Is this necessary? 

There has been a lot of press on this lately, with guidance recently released by both the WHO and the Africa CDC on the potential harmful effects of disinfection tunnels. In short, the use of these is expressly discouraged by these professional bodies. According to medical experts such as South Africa’s Professor Salim Abdool Karim, disinfectants are not meant to be used on people and may harm the protective bacteria present on human skin, which could make people even more susceptible to the virus. They can also be toxic if ingested via sensitive areas such as the mouth, eyes and nose. This is the official communication from the Africa CDC and ICAN on the use of disinfection tunnels: Disease control and prevention on the use of disinfection tunnels or disinfect spraying of humans.

8. What would be best practice for retailers and businesses when sanitising the environment properly to try prevent the spread of the virus?
  • Use the spray and wipe method for normal cleaning.
  • Use of a high-quality cloth folded in eight squares as per unit standards.
  • Chemical should be sprayed directly onto the cloth.
  • Cloths should be folded into eight squares to be used consecutively before rinsing the cloth in clean water, this will prevent re-soiling of surfaces.
  • Rinse the cloth in clean water in the 4/6L bucket.
  • Dispose of water when visibly dirty or when moving between areas.
  • Use a clearly marked spray bottle with chemical diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Spray bottles should clearly display information on usage and safety.
  • Avoid ‘topping up’ detergent or disinfectant containers.
  • Thoroughly wash containers and air dry before refilling with chemical.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Practice social distancing while cleaning.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth while cleaning.
  • Exercise cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Restrict sharing of (personal) devices or cleaning equipment.
  • Proper use of face masks must be maintained in public spaces.

 

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