By now we’ve all heard of microfiber. We’ve given insight to its many advantages in our previous blogs (read more HERE). Microfiber has superior cleaning abilities, enhances worker productivity, and reduces long term cost by reducing chemical and water use. Although utilizing a microfiber program will reduce your long term cost, it requires an upfront cost. An issue for some facilities is mismanaging their microfiber program, which can lead to frustration and lower productivity. There are important steps to take when implementing and maintaining a microfiber program.
Where do I begin?
Determining how many microfiber rags and mops are needed for each custodian’s shift, conducting an audit of your facility to assess the microfiber needs. This program can be can be further individualized by taking into account size of their facility, average number of rooms cleaned, and general put through rates. Utilizing a check in/check out system in which cleaning staff retrieves their allocated number of rags and mops when grabbing their keys helps to reduce the likelihood of misplaced microfiber. At the end of their shift, staff can then check in the microfiber products they used for their shift to reduce the likelihood of accidentally taking product home. This also helps to consolidate your inventory and you can determine the amount of microfiber required for effective infection prevention.
It’s important for employees to understand the techniques and processes for using microfiber to make sure you’re capitalizing on the full benefits of a microfiber program. This will help reduce cross-contamination and exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Utilizing an online training platform, or LMS, can reduce the time administrators spend facilitating training for current and new employees, and can give you insight into training retention. Having different colored microfiber for different areas and applications can also reduce the likelihood of cross contamination, and can simplify training/overcome language barriers.
Laundering & Proper Care Procedures
Laundry personnel should be required to understand protocols and recommendations for cleaning microfiber. Working with a managed microfiber program reduces the chance of cross-contamination and growth of harmful bacteria. Always read the label to follow any specific laundering instructions, and make sure fibers aren’t losing their effectiveness by following best practices. These include not mixing cotton with microfiber loads, not adding fabric softener when laundering microfiber, and avoiding bleach which can degrade microfiber fabric. Microfiber lasts up to 5x as long as reusable cotton rags and mops when taken care of correctly. This is important to know because higher quality microfiber products tend to cost more than conventional cotton products; however, their cleaning effectiveness and enhanced life span typically make them more cost-effective in the long run.
Choosing the Right Microfiber
As simple as it sounds: it’s important to keep in mind that the quality of your microfiber correlates with the health of your facility. If microfiber fabric has a low percentage of microfiber to the total composition split, uses foam backing or is unable to withstand high drying temperatures or chlorine bleach, it is likely to be less durable than higher quality microfiber. Quality microfiber is more effective in removing dirt from the surface, and requires less chemical for cleaning and disinfecting. This also reduces the amount of times necessary to wipe the surface. Ask your sales professional about which vendors offer top-performing microfiber.
As we are continuing to re-open schools, experiencing high-traffic in hospitals, and returning to work and travel, having a total solution for infection prevention is key. We’ve been highlighting steps to make a disinfection plan, another part of that plan is planning for what application you will be using. End users are interested in electrostatic sprayers now more than ever before. This method is highly efficient, but since it’s still newer technology you may have some questions. There are things to consider when choosing an electrostatic sprayer:
What is the charging technology?
When deciding between different electrostatic sprayers keep in mind if it charges the solution before or after it becomes a droplet. Charging a solution before it becomes a droplet holds a charge better, which means reduced transmission of germs and viruses. Ask your sales representative if the solution is charged in the tank, tip, or both. Charging by the tip doesn’t give 100% tip since flow rate is too fast. Look for an electrostatic sprayer that charges a solution before it becomes a droplet and charges in the tank or in the tip and tank rather than just the tip.
What size droplet does your nozzle spray?
Some electrostatic sprayers have 1 nozzle size, and others have multiple sizes. Dwell times can vary depending on the nozzle size, so if you’re looking for a quicker dwell time keep this in mind. If the nozzle size is under 40 microns then it’s classified as a fogger and extra precautions need to be taken to limit exposure to chemicals and ensure compliance.
Does your sprayer spray with a hydraulic pump or air fan atomization?
Atomization refers to separating something into fine particles. It’s the process of breaking a disinfectant solution into small droplets. Hydraulic atomization allows for better control over chemical solutions, air tends to have little control over the solution. What internal components are used inside sprayers is another important factor, and trying to keep your applications as chemical resistant as possible will help to ensure you’re disinfecting efficiently.
Take comfort and versatility into consideration
Anything over 90 decibels requires hearing protection, and anything over 30 pounds requires additional support per OSHA requirements. Taking comfort and versatility into consideration helps to reduce the likelihood of injuries on the job, and it allows your custodians to disinfect more time efficiently.
Sprayer systems are available in several designs, such as rolling cart systems, handheld sprayers, and backpack sprayers. Handheld and backpack models offer custodians flexibility but can be heavy when filled with liquid. Some sprayers use battery power to impart a charge on liquids, while others use a cord to draw power from a standard outlet plug. Although cords can pose an additional challenge, they provide consistent power and droplet charging, which results in better system performance. These are all factors to take into consideration when choosing a solution for your team.
Who is leading Infection Prevention in the Jan/San Industry?
It’s always a good idea to opt for a solution that has dedicated customer support and a warranty expert team ready to help whenever needed. Ask your Pike Sales Professional about webinars or any other questions when considering an electrostatic sprayer. Responsible manufacturers conduct testing of the entire system (the electrostatic sprayer paired with specific chemistries) to determine what PPE is needed as well as safety precautions to take for bystanders. Be careful of companies that claim you can spray any product with their system, they likely have not done adequate testing to ensure safety with all chemicals for custodians and bystanders.
For more OSHA guidelines when using electrostatic technology click HERE.
We’re all familiar with PPE at this point. The use of PPE, or personal protective equipment, has become even more prominent in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. PPE includes gloves, gowns, face shields, N-95s, foot coverings, and any other protective piece of equipment to help block the transmission of viruses. How an individual removes their PPE is just as critical as the PPE they use in the first place. The need for proper removal of PPE is a perfect opportunity to prove your value by educating cleaning professionals and healthcare workers to save lives by preventing cross contamination and exposure to germs.
The first step in protecting front line employees is ensuring they are wearing the correct PPE. PPE should be selected based on the results of a situation/site risk assessment. Custodial professionals need proper PPE before entering spaces to clean & disinfect where an infected (or potentially infected) individual has been located with COVID-19. Clickhere for more help following the minimum PPE guidance for certain situations where COVID-19 exposure risk is high. Referring to these guidelines allows you to educate your staff and customers on how to prevent contamination on their self and surroundings. Properly donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) PPE in a manner to prevent self and environmental contamination is crucial.
PPE Removal Tips
Here are some PPE removal tips following the latest information from OSHA and the CDC:
· Make sure you designate a space that is away from common areas of the building to remove their PPE. Utilize a buddy system where one worker walks through the removal steps with another worker and vice versa, maintaining a six feet distance from the other person while removing PPE.
· Depending on the situation, remove contaminated gloves first and put a clean set of gloves on to aid in the removal of your remaining PPE. Glove removal is a common area for mistakes since workers tend to rush the process. Pull the glove with the opposite hand and peel it off, turning it inside out (then follow the same procedure with the second hand). Dispose of the gloves and wash your hands, then apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for extra safety.
· Wear gowns to help prevent pathogens from getting on your clothing. Undo any tied areas and grab the gown from the neck, pulling it away from your body. Then, pull the gown over your hands and immediately begin rolling it inside out into a bundle. Dispose of the gown or place it in the laundry, and re-wash and sanitize your hands.
· Before removing your mask, wash your hands or put on a clean pair of gloves. Pull the straps off over your ears, avoiding touching the outside exposed area of the mask, and dispose of the mask or follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Wash and sanitize your hands.
· Wearing shoe covers helps protect people against viruses and contaminants that can linger on floors (such as SARS-CoV-2 virus). To remove them, sit down on a chair (do not stand and remove them) and pull the shoe covering over the heel and off your foot. Do the same with the other foot and the dispose of the shoe covers or launder them if they’re reusable.
· Eyeglasses aren’t considered PPE but they can become contaminated while cleaning or during the PPE removal process. Clean all parts of the frame with dish detergent and warm water, rinse, dry, and then wipe the frame with a disinfectant wipe. Always wash your hands at the end and between removal of different parts of your PPE.
How to properly dispose of disposable PPE must be part of the plan and important for infection and contamination control. Knowing how to properly clean, decontaminate, and maintain reusable PPE after and between uses is another important part of ensuring you have enough PPE in stock with current shortages.
Sections 9 thru 16 contain other technical and scientific information related to the products you’re using. They are an important resource to discover what hazards certain products can cause if you become exposed, and the short and long term health effects of certain components on your team and the environment. The first half of a SDS is helpful for needing information fast, while the latter half of a SDS is helpful to know how products interact with other products and the environment. Knowing the toxicity of products and common forms of exposure helps to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to safety and health.
Section 9: Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
This includes information on basic physical and chemical properties. Finding information related to odor, pH level, and more technical properties like evaporation rate can help you have a deeper understanding of what your product is. If a label is missing this can help identify the product if it’s not clear.
Section 10: Stability and Reactivity
Reading this section gives you more details about whether the product reacts negatively with other products or components. Some products degrade in hazardous ways, so it’s good to check how your product will react to other products and follow important shelf life guidelines. Try to find products that are as compatible as possible and have limited reactions to reduce the possibility of accidental mixtures of chemicals.
Section 11: Toxicity Information
Knowing the list of toxic components and how someone might be exposed to them is crucial in injury prevention and maintaining safety for your employees and building occupants. Here you can find a list of possible short and long term effects of exposure to certain products. Severe irritation can easily progress to chemical burns, and certain components can be known carcinogens or have negative impact on reproductive health. Common routes of exposure include inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact.
Section 12-16 (Section 12-16 are non mandatory, meaning not every product SDS will contain them.)
Section 12: Ecological Information
Checking this part of your SDS helps you to understand the impact your products will have on the environment. Switching to green cleaning products minimizes your carbon footprint and will clean just as effectively as traditional cleaners.
Section 13-14: Disposal Considerations and Transport Information
Knowing how to properly dispose of your products, including knowing what chemicals and containers are recyclable as well as safe handling practices helps to make your facility more sustainable. When reviewing section 13 referring to section 8 (Exposure Controls & Personal Protection) also helps to minimize your exposure to products you’re disposing, so you can protect yourself and the environment. Section 14 provides guidance on classification information for shipping and transporting hazardous chemicals. This is good to take into consideration when it comes to the logistics of getting product into your facility more efficiently.
Section 15-16: Regulatory Information & Other Information
Here you can find safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product that are not indicated anywhere else on the SDS. It defines regulatory information as defined by various organizations, including OSHA and the EPA. For example, if the EPA classifies the product as a carcinogen you would find that information here. Section 16 is the last section and indicated when the SDS was prepared or when the last revision was. You can see what changes have been made from the previous version(s) as well.
Having the SDS for your products readily available to your employees as a part of your training is important for preserving the health, safety, and sustainability of your staff, building occupants, and the environment. Knowing how to navigate a SDS helps you to be confident in your product lineup and knowledgeable about how they will interact with each other. For more information click here forOSHA guidelines.
It says it in the name: safety. With an increased use in cleaners, disinfectants, and other products to kill COVID-19 and other germs, it’s important to know what products you’re using. Safety data sheets, or SDS, are composed of 16 sections and are critical to maintaining the health and safety of your buildings and team. Understanding how to read a SDS is a critical skill when evaluating a new product, understanding how different products might react, or checking what dangers some products might present.
SDS may vary in appearance depending on the manufacturer or product you’re using. However, every one is required to have the same sections on their SDS with the same information. OSHA requires SDS sheets be readily available to all employees on every shift. They can be stored electronically as well, but there can’t be any barriers to accessing them. In this blog article we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the first 8 sections of a SDS, and we’ll cover sections 9-16 in our next article.
These sections contain general information that’s helpful to those that need to get information quickly. You can refer to these sections for general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, composition, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures (like fire fighting). This information should be helpful to those that need to get information quick.
Section 1: Identification
The first section of your SDS sheet includes important contact information and provides the name of the manufacturer. It also lets you know the name of the product and provides the emergency contact number in case there’s an immediate emergency. This is useful if there is exposure to a product and a staff member needs critical information fast. If you have questions about the recommended use of a product this is a good place to reference.
Section 2: Hazards Identification
Section 2 includes information about any hazardous components in the product, including hazardous classifications (like flammable gases or flammable liquids). Looking for signal words like “danger” or “flammable” can be helpful to quickly identify the level of hazard. If a SDS says “not regulated here”, that means the components don’t meet OSHA requirements as a hazardous component. Any other hazard information can be found in this section.
Section 3: Composition and Information on Ingredients
This gives you a basic understanding of the ingredients in the product you’re using, as well as how much of each component is present in the mixture. When it comes to concentrated products you should find the SDS for both the concentrated product and the RTU (ready to use) product. Some exact percentages are withheld as trade secrets, but you can still get an overall idea of the composition of the products you’re using. This comes in handy when selecting a new cleaning or disinfecting product. Generally speaking, more toxic components=greater health risk to custodians and building occupants.
Section 4: First Aid Measures
The First Aid Measures section includes a description of first aid measures intended to guide even untrained first responders. It tells you what immediate steps to take given different scenarios, organized by methods of entry. Methods of entry can include inhalation or skin contact for example. It helps describe symptoms of exposure which is helpful if the exposed person is unable to communicate what they were exposed to. This includes a description of the most important symptoms, acute or delayed. Any member of a safety team needs access to your SDS and this section as well to help in case of time-sensitive emergencies.
Section 5: Fire Fighting Measures
Knowing how best to fight a fire caused by the chemical you’re using is crucial. Some common components in products can require special methods of fire fighting, like alcohol resistant foam or dry chemical powder. It’s important to know what you’re dealing with when quickly trying to control a fire that can not be extinguished.
These sections should form the backbone of your safety training and be a part of your cleaning staff’s everyday knowledge. Here you can find what PPE is required and how to clean up spills for every product you work with. Using multipurpose products can be useful because there’s less to train your employees on, and they have less to remember.
Section 6: Accidental Release Measures
This is your resource for what to do when there’s a spill or accidental release of your product. Section 6 provides you with what PPE is needed for certain spills, and what emergency procedures need to be followed. Certain spill require certain materials for containment to make sure there’s no leftover product that could harm staff or building occupants.
Section 7: Handling & Storage
Section 7 is helpful for knowing which precautions should be taken for the safe handling and transport. Recommendations for how and where the product is stored, including any incompatibilities or dangers, can help your team stay safe. For example, some products may need to avoid direct sunlight or extremely low temperatures.
Section 8: Exposure Controls & Personal Protection
This section contains exposure limits, which tell you the threshold that’s safe for relevant components in a product. You can also find appropriate engineering controls and physical aspects of a space you’re cleaning, like whether to use local exhaust ventilation or use only in an enclosed system. Special PPE requirements of regular PPE needed for product use is also included here. This section is geared towards PPE for everyday use of a product, while section 6 highlights PPE required to clean up a spill safely.
School buses are prone to the spread of diseases such as colds and the flu, and COVID-19 is no exception. Surfaces such as the back of seats and hand rails contribute to the further spread of germs. The good news is that our Pike1000 disinfectant sprayer can disinfect an entire bus with one single application. Electrostatic technology charges and separates each droplet of applied product, which creates even coverage on the entire target surface or area. Disinfecting high-touch areas is important for the return to in-person learning after the holidays to keep your schools safe.
Tips for disinfecting your school bus
Start in the front of the bus and focus on the grab bars and drivers’ area
Spray the seats high to low
Focus on spraying the front of the seats on the first pass
On the way back spray the backs of seats
Wait at least 15 minutes after application before using the bus again
Remember to use List N disinfectants that are approved for wide-area spraying applications
Pre clean surfaces to ensure proper disinfection
Remember you can use electrostatic technology to disinfect your classrooms, offices, hallways, restrooms, and gyms or any other space that is a high-traffic area.