Latest Disinfection and Basic Recommendations for COVID-19
This post is chock-full of the latest information on COVID-19 and employer/employee recommendations ALL IN ONE PLACE. Feel free to read it in snapshots, or scroll to what's applicable to you!
As always, please feel free to reach out with any Health and Safety questions for you, or your company. In the times of information overload, you may benefit from a simple phone call to have your questions answered, at no cost to you.
Here we go:
For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
Unexpired household bleach will be effective against corona viruses when properly diluted. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water.
Remind everyone in your business of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue/mask/scarve.
Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
Emergency warning signs include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
New confusion or inability to arouse.
Bluish lips or face.
This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
All products on this list meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided many resources to assist healthcare facilities, community sites, businesses, and households in preventing the spread of the virus. One CDC site provides the following recommendations:
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs, using a detergent or soap and water before disinfection.
Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
Educate employees about how they can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Follow the policies and procedures of your employer related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, and work meetings and travel.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Inform your supervisor if you have a sick family member at home with COVID-19. Learn what to do if someone in your house is sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Learn more about coughing and sneezing etiquette on the CDC website.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs. Dirty surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2external icon, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
Practice social distancing by avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
Maintain Healthy Business Operations
Identify a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact at the workplace.
Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures. Additional flexibilities might include giving advances on future sick leave and allowing employees to donate sick leave to each other.
Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees may want to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies.
Employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.
Review human resources policies to make sure that policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and are consistent with existing state and federal workplace laws (for more information on employer responsibilities, visit the Department of Labor’s external icon and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s external icon websites).
Connect employees to employee assistance program (EAP) resources (if available) and community resources as needed. Employees may need additional social, behavioral, and other services, for example, to cope with the death of a loved one.
Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products.
Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize existing customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
Identify alternate supply chains for critical goods and services. Some good and services may be in higher demand or unavailable.
Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
Talk with business partners about your response plans. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.
Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children if dismissed from childcare programs and K-12 schools.
Plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace.
Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism.
Prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies.
Cross-train employees to perform essential functions so the workplace can operate even if key employees are absent.
Consider establishing policies and practices for social distancing. Social distancing should be implemented if recommended by state and local health authorities. Social distancing means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible (e.g., breakrooms and cafeterias). Strategies that business could use include:
Implementing flexible worksites (e.g., telework)
Implementing flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts)
Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
Increasing physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive through, partitions)
Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events)
Delivering services remotely (e.g. phone, video, or web)
Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery
Employers with more than one business location are encouraged to provide local managers with the authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their COVID-19 response plan based on local conditions.
Maintain a healthy work environment
Consider improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system. This may include some or all of the following activities:
Increase ventilation rates.
Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.
Support respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene for employees, customers, and worksite visitors:
Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
Provide soap and water in the workplace. If soap and water are not readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be chosen over hand sanitizer. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained.
Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
Discourage handshaking – encourage the use of other noncontact methods of greeting.
Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection:
Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs.
If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available herepdf iconexternal icon. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools and equipment) can be wiped down by employees before each use. To disinfect, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2external icon, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility:
If a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
Advise employees before traveling to take additional preparations:
Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from countries with travel advisories, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
If outside the United States, sick employees should follow company policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
Take care when attending meetings and gatherings:
Carefully consider whether travel is necessary.
Consider using videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings.
Consider canceling, adjusting, or postponing large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person.
When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.
Resources for more information:
Other Federal Agencies and Partners