Your Facility is Covered in Germs: What Does This Mean for a Facility Manager

Facility managers have a vital job. They responsible for ensuring the safe and effective operation and maintenance of a facility and it’s infrastructure, including the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems in the wake of any virus outbreak. Key organizations in the world health field like the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization are continually trying to update the global understanding of how exactly the COVID-19 virus is transported from person to person. ASHRAE has released proactive guidance to address the COVID-19 outbreak from a facility management perspective, and it is important for facility managers across the country to be in tune with the messaging.

ASHRAE COVID-19 Preparedness

ASHRAE has recognized that healthy buildings are part of the solution to maintain safe and healthy internal environments for building occupants. ASHRAE published official COVID-19 Preparedness Resources which serve as guidance to building owners, operators, and engineers on best measures and plans for protecting occupants.

As an airborne infectious disease, COVID-19 poses a potential risk to HVAC facility equipment. While little is known for sure about the virus and its ability to travel via HVAC systems,  Facility managers need to vary the approaches they take for each different type of facility that they manage. Additionally, it may become a necessity to clean the entire system to mitigate any risk and to provide comfort to employees, guests, and visitors. Currently, health care facilities have criteria for ventilation design and operation in place to mitigate airborne transmission of infectious diseases. In health care facilities, ASHRAE measures and local airborne transmission prevention policies aim to reduce transmission by both direct and indirect contact between employees and facility infrastructure. However, outside of critical areas like operating rooms, or infectious disease areas, little is known.

Emergency Planning

For other types of facilities that may not be specifically designed for infectious airborne disease control, active measures can still be taken to strengthen HVAC equipment’s ability to maintain the safety of the internal environment and air quality. One of the best measures to prepare for the COVID-19 outbreak is to develop and enact emergency planning procedures that increase the resiliency of facilities.

Engineers and facility managers can significantly support the capacity and efforts of emergency planning by understanding the design, operations, and maintenance adequacy of buildings for which they are responsible. An understanding of the capabilities and shortfalls of the building systems is key in determining which areas to target in an emergency preparedness plan. A building management system may have the means to increase dilution ventilation, increase relative humidity, or quickly clean and sanitize and disinfect components (coils, plenums, condensate systems, ductwork, etc) in order to respond to a crisis or outbreak.[1]

In the case of an infection occurring in an enclosed space or area, it is critical for facility managers to act quickly and apply the emergency plans set in place to deal with the situation. In the case of an airborne respiratory infection such as COVID-19, there are four quick steps that ASHRAE has identified that facility managers can take to quickly address the situation.

Step 1: Supply clean air to other susceptible occupants in the facility. Susceptible occupants may be anyone in the immediate area or the same room as the infected person.

Step 2: Containing the contaminated air as best as possible and exhausting it to the outdoors. It is important that air from a space with a potential infection is not recycled throughout the rest of the facility.

Step 3: Diluting the air in a space with clean air from outdoors and by filtering any recirculated air.

Step 4: Cleaning and sanitizing the equipment, surfaces, and shared spaces within a room that was susceptible to a COVID-19 outbreak. During these times it is also important to clean and disinfect evaporator and air handler coils.

Proper ventilation ultimately is the best method that facility managers can take to protect the workers and personnel inside the buildings that they manage. Ventilation systems should be thoroughly checked to ensure that components are properly cleaned and that the right filtration units are in place to clean the airflow. During emergency maintenance consideration of using Merv Rate Filters 13 and above may be worth looking into.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The COVID-19 virus outbreak is an undeniable reason for facility managers to analyze, practice, and supplement the cleaning and maintenance plans of their facilities. Many industrial and commercial facilities are full of germs naturally, and standard maintenance plans should meet regular thresholds for cleanliness and regularity each time they are exercised.

Global pandemics like the COVID-19 virus outbreak present unique situations when facility managers need to double down on their maintenance and cleaning plans. Though the nature of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is still under study, there has already been a proven occurrence of community spreading of the virus. Community spreading means that people are often infected in the midst of their everyday lives and activities because they were in areas where another person was infected by the virus.

No matter what type of facility that you manage, Goodway has products, advice, and proven maintenance strategies that can ensure your building is in the best position to help prevent the spread of illness.

[1] https://www.ashrae.org/File%20Library/About/Position%20Documents/Airborne-Infectious-Diseases.pdf

Steam: Natures Disinfectant

We’ve discussed the power of steam frequently on our blog. Many segments of the market around the world have embraced steam cleaning and sanitation for it’s immediate, and powerful cleaning performance.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the science behind steam, how high heat, when used properly it can reduce bacteria and viruses inactive in seconds.  Dry vapor steam cleaning is an economical, eco-friendly, and effective form of cleaning, and we’re finding that these cleaners are particularly useful to the healthcare, hospitality, and facility management markets.

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Food and Beverage: Keeping Production Safe From COVID-19

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have been responding to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in China and has now spread to almost all countries across the world.

FDA Stance on COVID-19’s Impact on Food and Beverage Production

The Food and Drug Administration has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 virus outbreak and its influence on all the supply chains that the administration oversees. Among a large amount of misinformation that has been spread about the COVID-19 virus, the FDA provides clear guidance on the virus’s effect on the food and beverage industry. In a press release dated February 27, 2020 Stephen M. Hahn M.D. Commissioner of Food and Drugs from the Food and Drug Administration states:

“We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.” The beverage production industry falls under the same guidelines for the impact of COVID-19, at this time there are no reports of human illnesses spread through beverage production.[2]

Hygiene Practices for Food and Beverage Production

Although current reporting from the Food and Drug Administration states that the COVID-19 virus has not shown the ability to be transported through food and beverage preparation, it is still important for producers to practice good hygiene and maintenance plans. The food and beverage industry still remains susceptible to foodborne illnesses like the Norovirus, the Hepatitis A virus, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli (E. Coli).

The guidance from the CDC’s message on the COVID-19 outbreak was to focus on good hygiene practices when preparing, packaging, and serving food. The greatest risk to the food and beverage production industry from the COVID-19 virus is workers and employees contracting the virus while at work. Outbreaks at manufacturing sites quickly stall production and disrupt supply chains.

Preparing for and Preventing the COVID-19 Virus

As the COVID-19 virus outbreak spreads across the United States, it is important for food and beverage production industries to plan, prepare, and take preventative action now to protect their employees and communities. The following are steps that the officials and health experts at food and beverage companies can take.

  1. Review, update and implement emergency operation plans (EOPs). Emergency operations plans are the standardized practices and drills that facilities plan to enact in the occurrence of significant risk to employees and the community. These emergency operation plans can be either a strict policy or a flexible emergency template. Either way, EOPs are an essential emergency practice that should be verified and even rehearsed in the face of growing COVID-19 virus risk.
  2. Monitoring plan for signs and symptoms of sick personnel. Infected personnel showing up at work is the quickest and most likely way for the COVID-19 virus to spread within food and beverage industry production plants. Companies throughout the industry need to both monitor and prepare plans of action for personnel who exhibit any flu-like symptoms.
  3. Establish procedures for employees who are sick with any illness to self-quarantine. Procedures for employees in each company will be different, and essential personnel should be identified at each facility. In the case of employees exhibiting flu-like symptoms, there needs to be a method to get them into self-isolation or quarantine.
  4. Perform routine environmental cleaning. Plant cleaning, sterilizing, and maintenance procedures should already be in place at the facilities within the food and beverage industry. It may be necessary to increase the frequency and intensity of the maintenance and cleaning plan at plants in order to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
  5. Create plans to communicate accurate and timely information across the organization. Information and honest reporting of maintenance practices, COVID-19 response plans, and health statistics are the keys to fighting the spreading of the virus and to keeping key personnel informed.

Overall Effect of the COVID-19 Virus

Food and beverage production companies have overall not been spared by the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Volatile stock market response to the virus outbreak has caused financial insecurities while the health impacts of the virus have created the potential for lapses in the manufacturing, production, and distribution aspects of businesses. The Food and Drug Administration has stepped its monitoring and enforcement of regulations aimed at quality control and keeping workers safe. It is the responsibility of leaders in the industry to enact prudent measures to combat the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 resources from CDC include:

For more information from the CDC, visit Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

[2] https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-supply-chain-update

 

Next Steps:

Read how to Strength Food Safety and Production Efficiency

Check out Goodway’s Food & Beverage Processing Cleaning & Sanitation Equipment

Keeping Your University Safe From COVID-19

Preventing the Spread

University health and administration officials have a responsibility to their students, faculty, and staff to prepare and protect them against the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. One of the most important steps that a University can take amidst the COVID-19 outbreak or any future outbreaks, is to prepare both formal University policies and practices as well as prepare the University population. Preparation builds resiliency in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and is the best prevention method for preventing the spread of the virus amongst students, staff, and faculty.

The COVID-19 virus, formerly identified as 2019-nCoV, was identified as a novel coronavirus not previously seen by public health officials. Despite the commonality of coronaviruses throughout the world and its tendency to cause mild to moderate illness, the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a public health emergency and international concern.[1]

How does the virus spread?

The Covid-19 virus is spread primarily from person-to-person and travels through respiratory droplets that are produced from the mouth or nose when a person coughs or sneezes. The dwell time of these infected respiratory molecules is short, but when they reach the mouth, nose, or eyes of another person they commonly transmit the virus.

Not all viruses spread as quickly as easily as others, for example, the Measles is a virus that spreads extremely easily. The virus that causes COVID-19 is currently able to spread easily and consistently throughout the community, in a spreading method called community spread. Community spread means that people are often infected by the virus seemingly just because they are in an area where another person is infected by the virus.[2]

Community spread often results in people getting infected by the virus without being completely sure how or why they were infected. The ability of the COVID-19 virus to spread through community spread makes the virus a significant risk to people when they are carrying on about their everyday lives and moving between different crowded areas and groups. Universities are particularly at risk of community spread due to the classroom and lecture hall nature of the community of students and faculty.

Who to pay attention to?

The Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise International (IHE) is a global health care initiative lead by healthcare professionals and provides guidance on improving the information sharing of healthcare systems.

IHE, working together with local health departments, has an important role in slowing the spread of diseases like the COVID-19 virus. IHE’s efforts will help ensure students, staff, and faculty have safe and healthy environments in which to learn and work. These efforts and communications from IHE are important for University Health and Administration officials to reference and pay attention to when deciding how to react to a global health crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak.

Plan and Prepare: Take steps now to help stop or slow the spread of respiratory infectious diseases, including COVID-19

As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads across the United States, it is important for Universities to plan, prepare, and take preventative action now to reduce the potential for spread across the community.

The following are five steps that a University can take now to both prepare their community for the outbreak and even to slow or stop its spreading.

  • Step 1: Review, update and implement emergency operations plans (EOPs). Emergency operations plans are the standardized fallbacks and drills that Universities plan to enact in the occurrence of significant risk to the University or its personnel. These emergency operations plans can be either a strict policy or a flexible emergency template for a University to use to react. Ether way, EOPs are an essential, emergency fall back that should be verified and even enacted in the face of growing COVID-19 virus risk
  • Step 2: Monitor and plan for the absenteeism of staff and students. Infected personnel showing up at work or class is the quickest and most likely way for the COVID-19 virus to spread amongst a population. Universities need to both monitor and prepare plans of action for personnel who exhibit any flu-like symptoms at a minimum self-quarantine. Be prepared to evacuate the staff and students. Set up previsions for online learning.
  • Step 3: Establish procedures for students, staff, and faculty who are sick (with any illness) on campus. Procedures for students and staff will be different, and essential personnel should be identified, but in the case of any person experiencing flu-like symptoms, there needs to be a method to get them into self-isolation or quarantine.
  • Step 4: Perform routine environmental cleaning. Environmental cleaning measures should already be in place at the university and in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may be necessary to increase the frequency and intensity of the maintenance and cleaning plan.
  • Step 5: Create plans to communicate accurate and timely information to the IHE community. Information and the honest reporting of health statistics is the key to fighting the spreading of the virus and to keeping experts informed. University health officials should reach out to organizations like the IHE and establish a line of communication before the COVID-19 outbreak reach their communities.

 

[1] https://www.ecolab.com/pages/coronavirus

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html

Coronavirus’s Impacts In Your Health Care Facility: What You Need to Know

What is the Coronavirus?

The CDC has been responding to an outbreak of a virus known through the media as the coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of respiratory viruses that act similarly and cause those infected to exhibit similar systems. The specific virus that has triggered the World Health Organization to declare an outbreak and international public health emergency is “coronavirus disease 2019,” abbreviated COVID-19, which was first detected in China.[1]

FOR COMPLETE AND UPDATED INFORMATION ON COVID-19 PLEASE REFER TO THE CDC WEBSITE HERE.

The symptoms and severity of COVID-19 are still under study by the CDC, as there have been cases ranging in severity reported. The severities in illness for infected people range from very mild to severe flu-like symptoms, with some cases resulting in death. The most susceptible people death from the COVID-19 virus seems to be older people and people of all ages with severe underlying and pre-conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, which make them more vulnerable to the effect of the virus.[2]

How is it similar to other viruses?

The SARS-Cov-2 virus, which is the formal name for the COVID-19 virus, is a beta coronavirus. This means that the virus is similar to makeup as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS and with the scientific name MERS-COV and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome from 2003-04 known as SARS.[3]

What disinfectants are effective against COVID-19?

Generic washroom soap and water is currently the most effective for limiting the spread of Coronavirus, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended method for preventing the spread of any pathogens, specifically the COVID-19 virus. In any case, personnel who practice recommended and regular basic hygiene measures such as washing their hands frequently with soap and water for at a minimum twenty seconds and using hand sanitizer after coming into contact with another human are minimizing their risk at contracting the virus. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should only be used in the case when soap and water are not available.

Some common disinfectants that are effective in sanitizing equipment and objects from the COVID-19 virus include A-456 II Disinfectant Cleaner, Neutral Disinfectant Cleaner, Oxycide Daily Disinfectant Cleaner, Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner, TB Disinfectant Cleaner RTU, and Virasept cleaner.[4]

How has the COVID-19 virus impacted healthcare?

Healthcare facilities across the country will likely be the local concentration point for both COVID-19 infected people to travel for care and where future infections could occur. Because of the critical role that healthcare facilities will play in treating and preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is important that all healthcare facilities take important steps now to prepare for the outbreak.

Three steps to take to be prepared

In order to be prepared, administration officials at healthcare facilities need to remain informed about the local and regional COVID-19 situation. The COVID-19 has demonstrated its ability to travel through community spreading, meaning that the virus’s approach will not be obvious, but once a nearby area sees infections, it is even more likely for the virus to spread to neighboring areas.

Step One: The very first step healthcare officials should take is to be prepared. The CDC has set up a COVID-19 website to inform the public on the status of the virus and this is an excellent place for healthcare officials to turn first for information and preparation guides.

Step Two: Establish local lines of communication and communication plans to help stop the spread of the virus. It is important for officials to establish relationships with key healthcare and public health partners throughout their community and neighboring communities. From these relationships, healthcare facilities can create an emergency contact list and emergency communication plan to enact should there be an infection within one of their facilities.

Step Three: Take strong measures to protect the workers and patients at the facility. Developing and reviewing facility emergency plans is a key preparation that all healthcare facilities need to exercise before the virus reaches their area. Once an infection is found at a facility, staff need to know the plan to act quickly to contain the virus from spreading across the organization. Healthcare facilities should also responsibly stock up and utilize basic health equipment such as masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves to ensure that they always have the basic equipment to protect their staff.

How can Goodway help?

Goodway offers a variety of sanitation materials to healthcare facilities for years, including surface sanitation solutions, and dry steam cleaners.  Contact us today to discuss your specific cleaning and sanitation needs.

 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

[2] https://www.ecolab.com/pages/coronavirus

[3] https://www.ecolab.com/pages/coronavirus

[4] https://www.ecolab.com/articles/2020/01/a-novel-coronavirus

 

Next Steps:

 

 

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