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Health and safety awareness during Covid-19

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative for businesses to acknowledge the increased risk of infection posed by airborne droplets containing the virus. These droplets, generated through activities such as coughing, sneezing, or even speaking, heighten the potential for transmission. The mode of infection varies depending on factors such as surface type, viral load shed by individuals, and the duration of surface contamination.

Laboratory studies have demonstrated that the virus can persist on surfaces for up to 28 days, underscoring the importance of rigorous disinfection protocols. Public Health England has issued recommendations specifying appropriate disinfectants and emphasizing the need for surfaces to be wiped down at least twice daily, particularly in high-touch areas like bathrooms and communal spaces.

However, it’s crucial for employers to be recognise the potential health risks associated with increased disinfectant usage. The excessive exposure to these chemicals can lead to adverse health effects among cleaning staff, including but not limited to contact dermatitis and respiratory issues such as respiratory problems. As such, compliance with regulatory frameworks such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) is mandatory.

Under COSHH regulations, employers are required to implement measures to control the use of hazardous substances. This includes storing such substances appropriately in designated cabinets or bins and providing comprehensive safety data sheets outlining the associated hazards and health effects. Additionally, employers must furnish cleaning staff with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including rubber gloves, respiratory masks, and eye protection, to mitigate potential risks. Furthermore, it’s essential to emphasise the importance of not using disinfectants in enclosed spaces to avoid adverse health effects. 

Employers bear a legal responsibility to safeguard the health and well-being of their employees, particularly those who are directly involved in cleaning and disinfection activities. By adhering to regulatory guidelines and prioritizing employee safety, businesses can effectively mitigate the risks associated with increased disinfectant usage during the Covid19 pandemic.