Jamie Woodhall, Technical & Innovations Manager at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene
After more than a year of restrictions of various levels, from 19 July Coronavirus prevention measures became no longer mandatory for businesses and citizens in England. Scotland also announced ‘level 0 restrictions’ from the same day.
While measures are no longer legally required, experts have called for caution and for people to remain vigilant in the fight against the virus.
As we enter this ‘new normal’ of learning to live with the virus, businesses and the general public will need to work together. This may mean continuing to frequently handwash as well as wearing masks, and keeping socially distanced as appropriate. For businesses, it means continuing to ensure they provide as safe an environment as possible for their employees and the public.
To help businesses provide a hygienic facility, Rentokil Specialist Hygiene developed its HATS model early in the pandemic. It is a tool used to critically and objectively assess whether a facility is covering all the bases to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and other illnesses, such as Norovirus – which has been three times more prevalent this summer compared to the past five years.
The first step of the HATS analysis is to look at hygiene factors which will help limit the potential transmission of Coronavirus and other microbial infectious diseases and pathogens. The provision of handwashing and sanitising products plays a central role to this.
Poor hand hygiene creates potential transmission routes for Coronavirus and other illnesses that can be transmitted person to person or surface to person, so the first thing to do is to ensure that employees, customers and clients have the ability to thoroughly wash, dry and sanitise their hands regularly.
Automatic taps and dryers, as well as ‘no touch’ soap, paper towel and sanitiser dispensers are ideal because the user does not have to make direct contact with the unit in order to operate them. These would ideally be available in washrooms and other important areas such as changing rooms, waiting areas and kitchens. Sanitiser stations should also be set-up throughout the facility to give people the opportunity to sanitise their hands as needed.
This part of the assessment looks at the indoor air within a building and provides recommendations on how businesses can help to ensure the air people breathe in their facilities is safe.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, it has become clear how important air quality is, not only to prevent the spread of Coronavirus which is often transmitted via air to person, but to our overall health and sense of wellbeing. Now, the expectation from the public is that businesses and employers need to do their bit in helping to ensure that they are providing clean air, so that the risk of catching an airborne illness while indoors is reduced. We polled 2,000 UK adults¹ in March this year to discover their concerns and our research shows that 68 per cent of Brits believe that businesses and employers need to do more to ensure clean air circulates in their premises.
As well as ensuring adequate ventilation, air purification solutions will likely play a vital role in reducing the risks associated with airborne viruses and bacteria, and will help to protect staff and visitors when they are indoors. The UK government’s latest business advice to monitor indoor air quality and improve ventilation is an important step in this regard.
Solutions such as VIRUSKILLER™ air purification technology are leading the way in improving air quality for indoor spaces. Proven to kill 99.9999% of viruses with a single air pass, including Coronavirus*, VIRUSKILLER™ uses ultraviolet-C (UV-C) lamps, surrounded by a mesh of chromed nano titanium dioxide tube filters that are polished with activated carbon. The solution also decontaminates the air, by not only trapping but also killing airborne viruses, bacteria** and fungi.
Many viruses and illnesses can live on hard surfaces and are transmitted when people touch these surfaces.
As ‘work from home orders’ are lifted and fewer restrictions come into force for the footfall of indoor facilities, the number of people encountering shared touchpoints that could serve as a vector for transmission in a premises increases drastically. This section of the HATS assessment helps identify all those high-frequency shared touchpoints and ensures they are incorporated into a regular cleaning regime.
Due to different sizes, usage and operations, each facility requires an individual assessment. As part of the assessment, recommendations will be made on how to disinfect touchpoints, using the latest technology such as UV disinfection, mist blowing space treatments, or electrostatic disinfection.
Though no longer a mandated requirement by the government, social distancing is still an important part of the Coronavirus prevention strategy. Identifying areas where there will be potential for bottlenecks and high flows of traffic is the first part of the analysis – so that if requirements change, you can quickly implement measures to comply with social distancing. We also can make recommendations on how to create subtle barriers to manage traffic flow or create one-way systems. This will also include recommendations about signage and other techniques to promote social distancing.
We all need to work together to ensure Coronavirus and other illnesses don’t easily spread through the population as we begin to return to a more normal way of life. This will involve the continued effort from individuals to continue handwashing and to wear face masks or to socially distance as appropriate. For businesses and employers, it's all about creating an indoor environment that is as safe and hygienic as possible – the HATS assessment is a valuable tool to achieve this.
1. Research conducted by Opinium LLP for Rentokil Initial. Conducted 12-15 March 2021 sampling 2,000 adults in the UK
* When independently tested against Coronavirus DF2 (a surrogate for Coronavirus), Adenovirus, Influenza and Polio, the unit was found to kill 99.9999% of viruses on a single air pass.
**When independently tested against reference bacteria (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus subsp. Aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, Escherichia coli), the unit was found to kill 99.9999% of bacteria on a single air pass.