Cleaning Workplaces to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the workplace, the British government states that it is necessary to “clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products.”

This is why the government say that:

“Cleaners and janitors have a key role in keeping those in their buildings protected, and are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep staff, customers, and particularly the most vulnerable safe.”

It is for this reason that workplaces should ensure that adequate staffing levels are maintained to ensure that the extra cleaning that is required to prevent the spread of coronavirus can take place. If anything, workplaces should look into spending additional resources on paying for more cleaning time during this period of crisis. If adequate cleaning staffing levels are not possible then it may be necessary to close down the premises.

It is also necessary to take measures to ensure that all workers (including cleaners and catering staff) can be guaranteed full sick pay if they have to self-isolate because of the coronavirus. This measure is critical as without such assurances, some low-paid workers may feel forced into attending work even while ill, which will counteract the purpose of maintaining a safe working environment.

As we can never be sure whether we have had staff or students on the premises who have already contracted coronavirus (and are spreading the virus) then it is necessary to ensure that cleaning staff focus on cleaning “high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that cleaners should “Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfacesincluding tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets [and toilet handles], faucets, sinks, etc.” They add that other surfaces to be cleaned regularly include laptops, tablets, and keyboards.

With special reference to computers, The Evening Standard newspaper talked to Dr Yimmy Chow, a consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England, which led the paper to conclude that workers “should be cleaning down your office desk before and after you use it for the day.” This includes cleaning desks, keyboards, screens and mouses.

It is generally recommended that regular cleaning refers to wiping surfaces at least twice a day. Thus, the Public Health board in Canada write: “In addition to routine cleaning, surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty.”

In order to minimise the need for the cleaning of regularly used doors, it might be possible to leave such doors open.

With special reference to areas serving food, tables should be wiped down regularly, and staff should look at ways of distributing cutlery which do not allow infection to be spread easily. For example, staff not involved with the handling of money may pass individual cutlery to students. Bear in mind that the transfer of money between staff and students is another possible means of transmitting coronavirus, and so staff involved in such work should be given time to wash their hands more regularly than normal.

Finally, in schools all printers/photocopy machines in public areas should also be disinfected regularly. Consideration might also be given to shortening lesson times by 5 minutes to allow teachers to have time between lessons to thoroughly clean their own hands (a practice that will have a positive influence on students too).


For a more political analysis of coronavirus  see “Budget overshadowed by market crash and COVID-19 – we won’t pay for another capitalist crisis.”

cleans hands

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