Keeping the spread of infection at bay

Jamie Woodhall, Technical & Innovations Manager at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene

The UK, like the rest of the world, has been turned upside down by Coronavirus. It’s now more important than ever that businesses take the right measures to keep their facilities clean and employees safe – particularly those preparing to re-open once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted. Many fast food establishments will potentially move from a limited takeaway service back to a full takeaway service, and therefore it will be important to step up hygiene in line with higher customer expectations.

Regular cleaning is essential

Fast food shops often contend with high footfall and limited space, which can increase the risk of cross contamination, so it is essential that those managing these sites take action, to ensure their premises don’t serve as a hotbed for viral infection.

Kitchen, seating areas and washrooms should be subject to vigilant daily and weekly cleaning routines due to their high footfall. We advise that this regular clean is scheduled and tracked, ensuring that it takes place consistently and on time.

It might sound simple but encouraging proper handwashing amongst employees is essential. Our hands are a natural breeding ground for germs and one of the principal carriers of harmful pathogens – in fact, 80% of infections are spread by hand. Ensuring your employees and customers have access to the essential handwashing tools – warm water, soap, drying facilities and ideally, hand sanitiser, as well as handwashing reminders – goes a long way to encouraging good hand hygiene practices.

Proactive prevention

On top of a regular cleaning regime, fast food businesses should book several deep cleans per year. This may need to increase depending on the volume of customers and hours of operation, so we recommend that all businesses contact professional cleaning companies to create a bespoke service and frequency schedule that works for them.

Professionally managed deep cleaning is especially important during a period of illness outbreak, and will tackle those hard-to-reach or rarely seen areas where potentially harmful micro-organisms may have built up. A deep clean should include a thorough disinfection of high frequency touch points as well as moving all furniture or equipment away from the walls, to make sure no areas are missed from the standard cleaning routine. One powerful tool in the deep cleaning arsenal is Ultra Low Volume (ULV) disinfection fogging. This involves using a fogger to generate a mist of disinfectant which settles on top of, underneath and on the sides of objects, enabling specialist technicians to disinfect a large area in a short period of time.

Regarding the Coronavirus outbreak, takeaways that have remained open would be wise to review and update their cleaning regimes. They should also consider proactively preparing in case a deep clean is required, such as in the event they have a suspected or confirmed Coronavirus diagnosis onsite. This would require a contingency survey of the premises, typically offered by experts to enable them to gather key information in advance, including preparing a site-specific risk assessment, to enable a quick response in the event of a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus being reported on the site at a later date.

If there are no confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus on a site, an all-purpose specialist disinfection maybe appropriate to help protect against microbial infection, and to help maintain a high level of hygiene in the facility.

Reacting quickly

In addition to prevention, it’s also important that if an employee or customer does contract or is suspected to have contracted Coronavirus, you react quickly to decontaminate the premises.

According to government guidance, in most circumstances the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surface is likely to have significantly decreased after 72 hours. This is a key consideration to determine the type of specialist disinfection service that your premises will need.

For businesses with a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus on the premises and where the site needs to be up and running quickly, then Rentokil Specialist Hygiene can implement stringently risk assessed infection control measures that go beyond the minimum World Health

Organisation guidance.

Firstly, a service manager will survey the site wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Then, guided by the site-specific risk assessment, method statement and safe operating procedures, Royal Society for Public Health qualified staff would meticulously disinfect rooms and areas that pose a threat of causing cross contamination, using a high-level surface disinfectant on surfaces such as floors, walls, ceilings and any objects. ULV disinfection fogging may also be used when required, to allow for the treatment of large areas in a short space of time.

For locations who can afford to wait 72 hours, then a slightly different process would be followed which could include disinfecting key touchpoints, such as door handles and kitchen surfaces, using a using high-level surface disinfectant to help minimise the risk of infection. ULV disinfection fogging would also be carried out, to help ensure that all necessary areas are disinfected.

Qualified technicians should always be equipped with the necessary PPE, RPE and specialist disinfection equipment, to provide specialist cleaning and disinfection service options safely and effectively.

All waste generated as part of the disinfection process needs to be segregated onsite and then disposed of in a safe and legally compliant manner, in line with guidance set out by Public Health England, to help eliminate cross contamination.

Final words

When it comes to cleaning regimes in fast food shops and takeaways, proactivity is essential to help prevent the spread of disease, particularly during an outbreak such as Coronavirus. Confined spaces and high footfall increase the standards of hygiene required. While hand hygiene will help stem cross contamination, specialist deep cleans will offer that extra level of protection and businesses should consider booking one in.

For more information, visit Specialist Hygiene.

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