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Reliability Leadership

Business Checklists for Safety during COVID-19: Best Practices for Sanitization

Ryan Chan

With stay at home-mandates sweeping the country in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses are shutting down temporarily. However, many lines of work must march on, including those who maintain equipment, buildings, and assets across industries.

Maintenance workers and other personnel in the food, grocery, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries will need to learn how to work safely to minimize the spread of Coronavirus and avoid falling ill themselves.

What is Coronavirus and how does it spread?

The risk associated with Coronavirus, or Covid-19 more specifically, is a respiratory disease that causes mild to severe symptoms in those it infects. The World Health Organization has classified it as a public health emergency.

How Coronavirus spreads

Given that this strain of coronavirus is new (earning it the name “novel coronavirus”), the general populace does not have an immunity to it. This means it can be easily transmitted from one person to another, allowing it to spread worldwide. The primary means by which COVID-19 is currently thought to spread include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Close proximity with those infected

It’s also possible that it spreads through contact with objects or surfaces infected people have touched, but the CDC doesn’t currently consider that to be the main way the virus spreads.

Who is at risk?

Of those who are most at risk for falling severely ill to coronavirus are:

  • Older adults
  • Those with diabetes or heart disease
  • Individuals with lung disease

Other groups who may be at risk include:

  • Immunocompromised individuals
  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with asthma

Little is currently known about the risks these other groups face, however. While scientists and public health officials uncover new information each day, one fact remains clear: routine cleaning can keep the public safe and reduce the spread of the novel COVID-19.

Here is a set of checklists for your teams to stay safe during this unprecedented time.

CDC Guidelines for Staying Safe

When it comes to keeping your business safe from Coronavirus, the CDC and WHO have set forth the following guidelines:

  • Limit physical contact with others, and maintain at least three feet of distance.
  • Clean your hands whenever you enter a building.
  • Limit the handling of cash, such as by promoting tap-and-pay or online transactions.
  • Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
  • Increase ventilation in buildings and vehicles.
  • Limit physical attendance at large gatherings, or postpone those gatherings altogether.
  • Use video conferencing and other remote meeting methods.
  • Remind employees to wash hands regularly.
  • Increase health screening for those who handle food.
  • Limit food sharing.
  • Use scheduling to stagger customer flow.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Encourage employees to stay home if they or someone in their household is sick.

Your company’s practices and processes should help support these measures.

Hand Washing

A sign above a freeway in Los Angeles. Source: Getty Images

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and other respiratory diseases is to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly. Whenever you wash your hands, keep the following items in mind:

  • Washing your hands should typically take at least 20 seconds.
  • Make sure to get often-missed areas, including thumbs, fingertips, and between your fingers

If your occupation requires the use of gloves, remember that they are not a substitute for washing your hands. Always clean up after using gloves, and change your gloves whenever any of the following occurs:

  • They look dirty.
  • They become damaged.
  • You move from a contaminated area to a clean one.

Often, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred option to washing your hands, especially given that it’s easier to use when on the move in fast-paced working environments. When using hand sanitizer, keep these items in mind:

  • Hand sanitizer is usually more effective at removing harmful germs than washing with soap and water.
  • In some cases, such as in healthcare, you should still wash your hands even when using hand sanitizer.
  • When using hand sanitizer, always use enough of it to do the job.
  • Hand sanitizer should have at least 60% to 95% alcohol content.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka responds via Twitter to growing speculation that Vodka works as a hand-sanitizer substitute. As of March 23, 2020, Tito’s will begin production of hand-sanitizer. Image source.

Cleaning Checklist for Restaurants

Restaurants are likely to keep operating for a while during this outbreak, and that means proper cleaning and hygiene are absolutely vital to protecting employees and the general public. Under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA), restaurants should have preventive controls in place to minimize hazards, including those that arise out of the following:

  • Processes (like cooking or refrigerating food)
  • Food allergens
  • Sanitization

The following checklists can help you make sure your establishment is completely sanitary.

Throughout the Shift

These tasks should be completed periodically throughout a shift:

  • Sanitize door handles, railings, seats, bars, and tabletops as often as possible.
  • Wipe down food prep surfaces between prepping different items, and especially after preparing potentially dangerous foods.
  • Spot clean windows and doors.
  • Check bathrooms for cleanliness.
  • Inspect tables for cleanliness.
  • Clean glassware with a dishwasher.
  • Fill and empty dishwashers promptly.
  • Empty trash when full.
  • Refill disposable items, like straws and napkins.
  • Wrap and date all food items placed in a container.
  • Clean grills and griddles between uses.
  • Clean up any spills.
  • Enforce sanitization on an hourly or semi-hourly basis.
  • Mop and sweep the floor.

Before Closing

Before closing out a shift, perform the following:

  • Prepare disposables and silverware for the next shift.
  • Sanitize menus, tabletops, bathroom surfaces, bottles, speed and ice wells, food prep surfaces, refrigeration units, stainless steel surfaces, food holding units, sinks, and washing stations.
  • Sweep and mop floors.
  • Vacuum rugs.
  • Clean soda machines, grills, griddles, and other equipment.
  • Empty and clean garnish trays.
  • Clean utensils and tools after use.
  • Refill paper towel and soap dispensers.
  • Place dirty linens in proper bins.
  • Empty and clean drip trays.
  • Filter fryer oil.
  • Degrease oily surfaces.
  • Clean floor mats with the dishwasher or power washer.
  • Fill dishwasher to run overnight, and hand wash any items that cannot be placed in the dishwasher.

Every week

On a weekly basis:

  • Check drains in floor and sink.
  • Replace fryer oil.
  • Empty grease traps.
  • Clean ovens and steamers.
  • Wipe down fan guards, vents, and hoods.
  • Vacuum hard to reach areas.
  • Dust fixtures and surfaces.
  • Clean and sanitize toilets, mirrors, and glass surfaces.
  • Clean inside of coolers, freezers, and refrigerators.
  • De-lime coffee makers.
  • Flush keg lines.
  • Tend to live plants.
  • Check mousetraps and other pest prevention measures.
  • Dispose of ingredients that aren’t fresh.

Tip: Using restaurant maintenance management software with PM checklists can help you improve your establishment’s hygiene efforts and make them more consistent.

No-Contact Food Delivery Options

Restaurant customers are starting to make more use of food delivery apps, and many of the companies behind those apps have begun to promote no-contact food delivery. In some cases, these apps provide a specific option for no-contact delivery in which the order is left at the door. In others, the app simply allow space for delivery instructions.

Services that allow for no-contact food delivery in one form or another include:

With no-contact food delivery, the delivery person makes no physical contact whatsoever with the customer, their door, or their doorbell. In some cases, this may cause a bit of difficulty in terms of social awkwardness or package theft, but it can also help prevent the spread of disease. Restaurants providing delivery services may consider implementing similar measures.

Cleaning Checklist for Grocery Stores

Image source: Getty Images

Grocery stores in the U.S. are seeing a great deal of traffic these days, which means cleanliness is of the utmost importance. These checklists should help improve cleanliness in your store.

Store Cleanliness Checklist

On a routine basis, clean and sanitize the following:

  • Shopping carts and baskets
  • Countertops
  • Workstations
  • Registers
  • Doors and door handles
  • Railings
  • Smudged windows
  • Food contact surfaces
  • Bathroom surfaces, including sinks, mirrors, and toilets

Employee Health Checklist

The following standards and expectations should be communicated to your employees:

  • Wash/sanitize hands regularly (several times per day).
  • Maintain proper respiratory etiquette (such as coughing into a crooked elbow or using a tissue).
  • Stay home when sick (or when a family member is sick).
  • Refrain from physical contact with customers and other employees.
  • Wear gloves in areas where Coronavirus has become more prevalent.

In addition, your company’s policies, including those regarding sick days and employee health, should be examined and updated to support these measures.

Disease Prevention Checklist

The following items may be implemented in your store in order to promote general wellness and reduce the spread of disease:

  • Employee training regarding best practices for reducing the spread of Coronavirus.
  • Hand sanitization stations throughout your store.
  • Remote shopping options.
  • Temporary closure of buffets and other ready-to-eat options.
  • Mandatory sanitization schedules.
  • Cross-training to enable employees to cover each others’ absences.

Any food safety plans you have in place with respect to your store and your vendors should also be reviewed and updated in accordance with best practices and local regulations.

Open earlier for at-risk populations

Additionally, consider having a set time period for senior citizens or high-risk individuals to shop for groceries. Some grocery stores have offered earlier hours set aside for more at-risk populations, so they can shop more safely with lower risk to exposure of COVID-19.

Tip: Additional guidelines and best practices for grocers include instituting purchase limits on high-demand items and creating a plan for response to infectious disease exposure.

Cleaning Checklist for Pharmacies

Pharmacies play a vital role in helping the general public make it through situations like this, and they’ll need to make sure their areas are completely clean in order to accomplish that mission. These checklists can help pharmacies ensure consistent sanitization practices across stores.

Pharmacy Sanitization Checklist

The following items should be disinfected with EPA-approved cleaners on an hourly basis or after every ten customers (whichever is more frequent):

  • Front counter
  • Doors and door handles
  • Windows
  • Chairs and tables
  • Bathroom surfaces and fixtures
  • Registers

Additional Pharmacy Cleaning

These items should also be cleaned properly on a frequent basis:

  • Equipment, including mortars, pestles, and glassware
  • Packaging and dispenser devices and cabinets
  • Carts, drawers, and bins
  • Countertops and other surfaces

Additional Best Practices for Pharmacy Sanitization

  • Implement effective handwashing and sanitization policies for employees.
  • Make hand sanitizers available to customers.
  • Maintain six feet of distance between people.
  • Encourage customers to purchase cold medicines in advance so they don’t need to go out if they get sick.
  • Place hand soaps, zinc, and vitamins at the front of the store, so that shoppers can quickly find what they need.
  • Regularly monitor staff for signs of illness.
  • Encourage employees to stay home when they or a family member is sick.
  • Update delivery policies to protect customers and minimize close interpersonal contact.

Cleaning Checklist for Manufacturing

Sanitization in manufacturing facilities may not look quite the same as in other industries since there is little direct contact between employees and customers. That said, manufacturers do send products to vendors and customers throughout the world, which means their internal practices must support proper sanitization, especially in the food and drug industries.

Routine Cleaning

When it comes to keeping your facility clean, disinfect the following on a regular basis:

  • Tools and equipment
  • Surfaces in work areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Break rooms
  • Doors and handles
  • Shelves
  • Computer keyboards, mice, and monitors
  • Mobile devices used for work
  • Windows
  • Railing and fences
  • Equipment control panels

As in other industries, employees should practice social distancing, clean their hands regularly, and stay home if they’re feeling ill.

Tip: Operators and other personnel can easily handle these routine cleaning tasks as part of a total productive maintenance strategy.

Creating a Food Safety Plan

Food and drug manufacturers should have a food safety plan in place for their facility. The steps to creating this plan include the following:

  1. Identify potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards.
  2. Create written controls for processes, allergens, sanitization, and other potential hazards.
  3. Monitor preventive controls. Verify effectiveness and correct as needed.
  4. Implement supply chain controls (such as approving suppliers) as necessary.
  5. Create a recall plan with notification procedures, effectiveness checks, and disposal processes.

Tip: The FDA has additional tools that can be used to create a food safety plan for your facility.

Additional Preventive Maintenance Checklists

Throughout the process of making sure your base of operations is compliant with best practices for hygiene, the work of maintaining your equipment and facilities must go on. By implementing routine checks and inspections on your equipment, you will find that they last longer and you save money in the long-run. Many preventive maintenance tasks support hygiene and cleanliness, and those tasks are done most reliably when you have checklists to support them.

Some additional resources for PM checklists can be found at the following links:

As you take the time to organize your cleaning and maintenance tasks and train your team to complete those tasks as outlined, you can help minimize the risk of infection in your facility during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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