OHS Canada Magazine

Cleaning up after COVID-19

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June 17, 2020
By Sam Speziale

Hazmat Health & Safety Occupational Hygiene COVID-19 Industrial Cleaners PPE

Industrial cleaners will play important role in reopening businesses

Securing a reputable bio-hazard decontamination provider will assist businesses in reopening, say experts. (Master1305/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has struck uncertainty into the minds of many Canadians. With public gatherings periodically banned across the country, many may feel nervous when they leave their homes to use an essential service.

Enter industrial cleaners.

An increased state of paranoia has driven the demand for services from companies such as QM Environmental in Mississauga, Ont., which offers specialized bio-hazardous cleanup for businesses.

Securing a reputable bio-hazard decontamination provider early in the recovery will be critical in ensuring businesses and services are able to return to normal as quickly as possible, said a company statement issued in March.

Government guidelines indicate that those cleaning public areas should know that frequently touched surfaces such as counters, elevator buttons and door handles should be cleaned at least twice per day to limit the potential spread of viruses.


Spikes in demand

GTA Restoration is a cleaning and restoration business servicing residential and commercial buildings in Toronto.

“Right now, we’re just doing things as we go,” said company founder Tony Lleshi. “We get a call, we go out, we help and that’s it. There is no scheduling ahead unless it is a hotel or supermarket that we do on a weekly or daily basis.”

“It’s been 80 per cent changed in our daily regulations, I would say. We got texts coming in and out; we’re tired and just going to work, but we’re trying hard in regards to helping out. We have no contact in the office, no contact with the regular clients. Only unless we get emergency calls,” he said.

ServPro Burlington in Burlington, Ont., is another cleaning and restoration business facing increased demand.

The company’s cleanup services range from mould remediation to commercial office cleanups, said general manager Paul Hammond.

PPE important

To defend technicians from COVID-19, teams meet before entering a building to ensure their protective gear is properly fitting, said Lleshi.

In confirmed case areas, T100 masks are used, along with Tychem gloves and full Tyvek suits. In non-confirmed case areas, N95 masks are acceptable, he said.

“Even when we don’t know it’s a confirmed-case area, it’s still very serious so we are very careful.”

Technicians are not able to work for extended periods of time while using mask models like the T100, said Lleshi.

As a result, they work in groups, have regular breaks and take turns doing jobs.

Hammond said that depending on the client’s discretion, technicians could enter the home or office while they the client is present, or create a scenario where the site is empty.

Clients are screened before facilities are serviced to protect technicians from interacting with infected persons, he said.

“I’ve been doing a lot of reading on it; there’s lots of associations that provide information. So, I just follow what I read. But there is no directive to me from anybody that would say to ask these questions.”

Sam Speziale is a Centennial College journalism student interning with OHS Canada.

This story was published in the May/June 2020 issue of OHS Canada.


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