COVID-19 Device Disinfection and Workspace Hygiene

Follow these everyday workspace hygiene tips and specific tips for worksafe disinfection to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

With the WHO declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, we all need to do our part to slow down the spread of the virus. Strong mitigation practices will help flatten the coronavirus curve to allow our healthcare system to help all those in need.

Although the coronavirus spreads primarily from person-to-person contact, COVID-19 can also spread through viral particles left on surfaces and then transmitted by touch to other surfaces and eventually the face. The good news is, most of the tips for reducing the spread of coronavirus involve these simple everyday good hygiene practices and a few extra workspace disinfection tips. These can be impactful in any setting, even when you are working from home.

Workspace & Device Disinfection

Although the research is not final, early tests suggest that COVID-19 can live on hard surfaces for up to four days at room temperature. And surfaces such as smartphones are among the top conduits for pathogens, as they come everywhere (including the bathroom) and touch faces and mouths often. Here are the top ways you can keep your devices – and your work area – pathogen free:

  • Smartphones, tablets, laptops, & peripherals: Although Apple previously only recommended a damp soapy cloth for cleaning to damage to sensitive oleophobic coatings from prolonged exposure to alcohol, this week its guidelines have been updated to allow for chemical wipes (Clorox or 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes). The same advice applies to other smartphones, tablets, laptops, and peripherals such as keyboards, trackpads, and mice. Turn off your device before cleaning, always avoid openings, and do not submerge devices, use bleach, or use aerosol sprays. If you want to avoid damaging sensitive smartphone screens, invest in cases or screen protectors that can be more easily sanitized. Avoid cleaning laptop screens, which thankfully are not often touched!
  • Pens & other office equipment: Limit sharing pens or other office equipment, disinfect your own pens and pencils, and wipe down common equipment before use.
  • General office spaces: Follow the CDC guidelines on cleaning, which specify cleaning dirty surfaces before disinfecting. Focus on high contact surfaces including desktops, doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, bathroom doors, taps, countertops, chairs, cupboards, and drawers.

Everyday Workspace Hygiene

The problem with coronavirus is that people can be infectious long before symptoms arise. And for those with symptoms, they may be so mild as to not trigger the need for testing or isolation. As such, it behooves us all to reinforce strong workspace hygiene practices:

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow – Researchers at MIT discovered that while the bulk of sneeze droplets travel at most only a couple of meters, a “sneeze cloud” made up of smaller drops can travel 200 times farther. Sneezing into your elbow helps reduce the spread of these pathogen-bearing drops in the environment.
  • Wash your hands – Frequent hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is the top way we can reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wash before every meal and every time you blow your nose. The ‘Wash Your Lyrics’ website can make entertaining posters that help reiterate washing time.
  • Don’t touch your face – Although gloves and masks are not necessary for healthy individuals, some studies have shown that people wearing gloves do touch their faces less frequently.
  • Maintain social distance – Although the coronavirus is new, the movement to replace the handshake or hug is not. Instead, consider the wave, elbow bump, foot tap, or a verbal acknowledgement.

For general cleaning, the Center for Biocide Chemistries has published a list of products that have been pre-approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use against COVID-19.

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