Specialised cleaning teams have hands full

Shoppers outside Checkers in Muizenberg observe physical distancing.

With Covid-19 in our supermarkets, it’s no longer a simple matter of a “clean-up in aisle 9” – foggers and specialised teams in hazmat suits, gloves and respirators are used to mop up.

With more businesses opening under the less restrictive level 4 lockdown, companies such as Fidelity Cleaning Services are likely to have their work cut out for them.

Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann says cleaning
firms follow standard operating procedures – complying with
guidelines set by, among others, the
World Health Organization and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)- for dealing with pathogens, including wearing the recommended personal protective equipment.

He says it is recommended that grocery stores use food-grade chemicals for deep cleaning.

To be defined as food grade, materials need to be non-toxic and safe for consumption.

Bryan Calitz, of Kalmia Hygiene Services, says the chemicals used in deep cleaning are detergent-based, because it is detergent that breaks down the fatty molecules in the virus.

Products with a 70% alcohol base are not allowed because at that concentration, even residue can aggravate skin allergies.

He says their Covid-19 cleaning encompasses three separate swabs of the area: one as they
arrive, one directly after cleaning and the third swab four to five hours after the clean.

Emma Corder, managing director for industrial cleaning company Industroclean, says a
different approach is needed depending on the job, and special care is needed with stores that have bakeries, butcheries and delis.

“Food contact surfaces
require far greater precautions as well as different types of chemistry to deal with the specific type of dirt in that environment.
Businesses, such as commercial buildings are considerably lower risk facilities.”

She says reputable companies will provide certifications, and all disinfectants must be registered in accordance with legislation.

“If the cleaning products are certified with the relevant
SABS/SANS certifications and
the chemicals are being used in line
with the manufacturers guidelines, then there should be no need to worry about the safety of chemicals being used.”

According to government’s level 4 requirements, employers need to:

* Provide sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser with at least 70% alcohol content.

* Ensure that work surfaces, equipment and common areas such as toilets, door handles and shared equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected.

* Provide adequate facilities for hand washing with soap and clean water and sufficient paper towels.

* Provide each employee, free of charge, with at least two
cloth masks to wear while at work or commuting.

TheSunValleyCheckers was closed on Monday April 27 (“Checkers Sun Valley closed due to a Covid-19 scare,” Echo, April 27) after a support-staff member tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement, the Shoprite Group, which Checkers is part of, told the Echo that the decontamination company had used a
fogger, spraying a fine mist of food-safe chemicals that cover all surfaces and leave a
layerofvirusandbacteriaprotectionfor seven days. The store was re-opened in consultation with the provincial Department of Health.

According to the statement, staff have daily temperature testing when arriving at work; plastic face shields have been given to employees; mobile clinics have been deployed and there are strict hygiene and sanitising rules at all stores.

Shoprite says staff with high temperatures are checked at the mobile clinics and, if necessary, referred for further
testing. Employees of merchandising, security and cleaning companies also undergo temperature scanning; employees’ face
shields are sanitised on the hour; and at all till points staff also sanitise till surfaces including pin pads and their own hands.

When an employee tests positive for Covid-19, the group says, the store is closed immediately and the NICD and Department of
Health are notified. Other employees are then screened, and those who have had close contact with the infected employee self-quarantine for 14 days.

Provincial Department of Health spokesperson Maret Lesch says that when Covid-19 cases are picked up on a single shift, the whole shift is quarantined and a new shift brought in.

After re-opening, the company must monitor and screen all employees, and those showing symptoms have to report it to their supervisor and the health department.

Customers also play a big role in keeping supermarket staff safe, Ms Lesch says.

“We ask that if you have to buy essentials at a supermarket, that you wear a cloth mask, sanitise your hands before entering the store, and that you keep a distance of at least 1.5m.