Creating and maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment is a frequent topic in today’s world. The two main elements in maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment are cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is important as it is the physical removal of dirt, dust, and debris. Along with removing dirt, dust and debris, some pathogens are removed by washing them away, reducing the amount of pathogens present.
Cleaning, however, does not fully disinfect the surface. Applying an EPA registered disinfectant will kill or inactivate up to 99.9999% of pathogens present on surfaces. Disinfection also eliminates the risk of cross contamination that may occur in the cleaning process.
In terms of frequency, disinfecting should occur based on use. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends surfaces that are considered “high-touch” be disinfected on a regular basis. High-touch surfaces can include surfaces like light switches, door handles, counter tops, desks, etc. Determining what regular means depends on the work environment itself and how often others are touching those high-touch surfaces.
It is also important to remember the purpose of disinfecting high-touch surfaces is to break the chain of infection by eliminating the environment from the infection equation. Breaking the chain of infection by disinfecting high-touch surfaces limits the amount that pathogens can multiply, therefore reducing the risk of transmission via touch.
Knowing that pathogens can reside on surfaces and multiply can lead to the assumption that the more disinfectant applied across the entire work environment can reduce the risk of infection even further. Though it is true that cleaning and disinfecting can reduce the amount of pathogens when applied on surfaces, questions to be considered are, 1) how frequently is the surface touched by someone’s hands, 2) what or who comes in contact with that area, and 3) what are the potential hazards of the type of disinfectant being applied.
A clean and healthy work environment has never been more important to the health and safety of employees. Understanding how and when to properly disinfect will help ensure a clean, safe and healthy work environment doesn’t turn in to a health hazard.