Get your kit off. Wipe…but don’t shake: Five ways to protect yourself from Covid-19

Shaun Doak’s company specialises in Covid-19 decontaminations and other ‘extreme cleaning’ jobs. Since the virus hit our shores, he’s been a busy man. However, the pandemic is touching his personal life, too – his mother is a Covid-19 nurse currently working on the front line. So, there are few CEOs better placed to give us their opinion on we can keep ourselves – and our workspaces – as safe as possible post-lockdown. Here are his top tips…

1) Mask on

Shaun says: “I’ve commuted to London several times post-lockdown. I don’t enjoy it. Trains are germ boxes. But we can’t avoid higher-risk areas forever. There’ll probably come the point when we have to enter a busy place that we’d like to avoid but can’t. Some people hate the idea of wearing masks and gloves in public. I don’t care. I want to protect myself, so my advice is always to use a mask and gloves in higher-risk areas – anywhere where there are lots of people and where social distancing is difficult or impossible. When our teams perform Covid-19 decontaminations, they use masks that have reusable filters and face fitted to the FFP3 rating. However, FFP3 masks provide the best level of protection and are the type that I would recommend for trains, planes or other busy places.”

2) Kit off

“After being in a higher-risk area, remove your clothes as soon as you get home and put them straight into the wash. Your clothes can pick up the virus. So take them off as soon as you get home but avoid agitating them; otherwise, the virus may disperse into the atmosphere.”

3) Wipe-down 

“My advice is to wipe your computer keyboard, tablet and phone down daily. Use hand-gel sanitiser on a tissue, or disinfectant wipes. For an extra level of protection, you could invest in a germicidal ultraviolet wand. After you’ve done your physical wipe down, give your kit a once-over with the UV-C wand. Hospitals use UV-C systems to decontaminate after they’ve completed a physical wipe-down.”

“In the workplace, I suggest frequent wipe-downs of all touchpoints such as door handles, taps, desks and switches. Consider your choice of cleaning chemicals. New products are coming out almost every day, but some are more toxic than others; some are chlorine-based and can tarnish materials; some take minutes to kill the virus; some do the job in seconds. And don’t forget to wash tea towels daily.”

4) Change up

“Office spaces and layouts, and the way in which we use them will have to change too. Desk spacing, meetings and the flow of people will need to adhere to social distancing rules, and so it’s a good idea to place several hand-sanitiser stations in common-sense areas. Your air-con system is also something to think about. Some recirculate air, other systems supply and extract. The latter is far better.”

5) Set the tone

“Some of our clients believe that HR will have a much bigger role to play post lock down as changes to how teams work will directly influence staff wellbeing – both physically and mentally. But whosever role it becomes, it’s essential to educate your team on the basics of social distancing and hand hygiene. Yes, everyone will know it all already, but it’s vital to set the right tone, communicate the correct messages and ensure safety stays at the forefront of everyone’s mind. As more information about the virus comes to light, you must continue to educate your workmates and update your messaging.”

CLIC conclusion: now’s the time to plan 

Shaun believes that by taking common-sense precautions, and by treating the virus with respect (“I talk to my mother, a NHS Nurse and she leaves me in no doubt how bad Covid-19 can be,” he says), individuals, organisations and workspaces can begin to operate reasonably safely again post-lockdown; even with no vaccine. Yes, the virus presents a new risk, but we can learn to live with it – with one caveat: we must alter our routines, think about what we wear, educate ourselves and change the way we manage our workspaces. 

Now is the time prepare.