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Considering re-opening your office? There are guidelines from public health officials to help.

With fewer restrictions and more access to COVID-19 vaccinations, more and more businesses are reopening their doors, especially with new mask guidance from the CDC for those who are fully vaccinated. However, it’s still important to consider how to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. Health experts still recommend regular Houston commercial cleaning to help reduce the number of germs in the workplace in addition to other efforts. We’ve compiled a guide to help you navigate reopening after the public health restrictions of COVID. 

The CDC Recommends Daily Houston Commercial Cleaning

First, it’s important to understand that the CDC still recommends daily cleaning to help combat COVID. Cleaning helps remove not just dirt and grime, but also germs from surfaces, including the COVID-19 virus. This is important even if most of your workforce is vaccinated, as experts are still researching whether the vaccine helps prevent the spread of COVID or not. While studies show that vaccines can help prevent a vaccinated person from getting sick, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will not spread the virus to people and surfaces inside the office. Therefore, heath experts still recommend cleaning your facility once a day.

Many recommend prioritizing cleaning for high touch points such as:

  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Desktops
  • Keyboards
  • Computer mice
  • Pens
  • Phones
  • Restroom surfaces

Because these areas are used by so many different people, they may be more likely to transmit germs such as the coronavirus. 

In addition, some facilities may require more frequent Houston commercial cleaning or disinfection services, such as if there are high rates of COVID-19 in the area, there are few unvaccinated people wearing masks indoors, there’s infrequent handwashing, or people with high risk of COVID complications are within the building. These conditions may put those in your office at a higher risk of contracting COVID. So, it’s important to consider whether your business meets these conditions and how often you’ll need to clean and disinfect before bringing people back into the office. 

Disinfection vs. Houston Commercial Cleaning

typewriter with corona update for Houston commercial cleaning
The CDC has updated its recommendations for Houston commercial cleaning. Most facilities now need daily cleaning, not daily disinfection.

There has been some confusion about recent updates to cleaning and disinfecting guidelines. It’s important to understand that daily cleaning is still recommended. COVID cleaning and disinfection guideline updates primarily have to do with frequent disinfection. 

Here’s a quick reminder to help clarify: cleaning involves removing dirt, grime, and germs from surfaces by cleaning with soap and water, disinfection involves killing germs with chemicals specifically designed to kill viruses, bacteria, and germs. 

The CDC now recommends that frequent disinfection may not be needed in all facilities, though you may still choose to disinfect high touch surfaces, particularly if you meet the high risk conditions we explained above or if someone in your building is sick. 

Houston Commercial Cleaning Services if Someone is Sick

Daily cleaning is essential, but what happens if someone ends up feeling sick? If there’s a confirmed or suspected COVID case in your workplace, you may need to take more extreme measures to help protect others in your business. 

Remember, symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat

In addition to making sure your employees know the symptoms and when to stay home instead of coming into the office, you’ll also need a plan of action in case someone does feel sick inside your building. 

Disinfection and Cleaning Within 24 Hours

man in protective gear using electrostatic sprayer for disinfection and Houston commercial cleaning
If someone has recently been sick in your building, you need to disinfect the area.

If someone has been sick in your building, you may need disinfection services for COVID-19. The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting if someone has been sick in your facility within the last 24 hours. They recommend sealing off the area where the person was for several hours. Then you should begin cleaning and disinfection protocols with a list N disinfectant to help kill the coronavirus.

If one of your employees starts showing symptoms, health experts recommend assuming the person has COVID and beginning Houston commercial cleaning and disinfection procedures to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others in the workplace.

Houston Office Cleaning Services After 24 Hours

Now, if it’s been more than 24 hours, CDC recommendations are a little different. They recommend at least cleaning the space thoroughly. Once again, you might choose to disinfect as well if you wish, such as if there are high risk individuals in your office or if you believe it would help your employees feel more comfortable.

If it’s been more than three days, then the CDC says there’s no need for additional cleaning beyond normal daily cleaning.

Opening Your Building After a Long Absence

Many buildings have been closed and unused for quite a while. What a lot of business owners don’t realize is that buildings that sit unused for a long period of time will need some extra TLC before you can bring back your workforce. Buildings that are vacant for a while need some special care and maintenance for health and safety.

If you stopped your regular cleaning services at the office when you sent your employees home, you may need some extra cleaning from your Houston janitorial services company. The surfaces inside likely have a collection of dust, at the very least, that needs cleaning.

Also, in your absence several potential problems could have cropped up. So, it’s important to conduct a thorough inspection of your building and necessary systems, like fire alarms, plumbing, and HVAC systems. In addition, there are some other things you’ll need to do before you can welcome your employees back to the workplace. For instance, checking for mold, flushing the plumbing, and running the HVAC system. 

Check for Mold

Before reopening your building, it’s important to check for mold. While you’ve been gone, moisture and mold growth may have gone unchecked. Unfortunately, many facilities turned their HVAC systems off or down while people weren’t in the office during the pandemic. This means high humidity levels that could encourage mold growth. Leaks may have also gone completely undetected while your office was closed and lead to mold. 

Since breathing in mold can have serious health consequences, it’s important to check for it in your building after a long absence. If you do find any, you’ll need to take steps to kill and remove it before reopening the office. 

Flush the Plumbing

Another thing you’ll need to do if your building has been unoccupied for more than a couple days is flush out the plumbing. When water sits stagnant inside your unused plumbing, water quality usually plummets. Contaminants start to build up and bacteria can start to grow. This includes Legionella bacteria, which can cause serious illnesses. 

There are a few things you can do to help reduce the risk of Legionella and low water quality in your building. First, make sure the water heater is working. Bacteria typically have a hard time surviving in hot temperatures.

Also, flushing out the plumbing helps replace the old water with fresh, higher quality water. Flushing the plumbing system involves opening up all water taps in both your hot and cold water systems to help get rid of the old water. Typically, you’ll need to run water from all the faucets and plumbing fixtures for at least five minutes and flush all the toilets at least once to help get fresh water into your plumbing system.

Run the HVAC System

You’ve confirmed there’s no mold and you’ve flushed the old water out of the plumbing system, but your office still likely isn’t ready for re-opening. If you’ve had the HVAC system off or turned way down while you and your employees have worked from home, you need to turn it on and let it run for 48-72 hours before reopening. This helps get fresh air into the building and remove contaminants from the air like germs, dust and allergens. HVAC systems may also play an essential role in filtering out the coronavirus. So, consider holding off on opening the office back up for a few more days until the HVAC system has had time to clean up the indoor air.

Consider Some Extra Safety Measures

person using cleaning wipe to remove germs from cell phone
Consider other safety precautions for re-opening, such as keeping cleaning wipes available in strategic, high traffic areas.

Also, there are some other things employers can do to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. While masks and limited occupancies are no longer mandated, the state of Texas still recommends employers take precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, likely until we reach herd immunity.

Here are some extra safety measures to consider for your return-to-work plan:

  • Post signs encouraging hand hygiene
  • Ensure restrooms are stocked with plenty of supplies needed for handwashing
  • Offer reminders for cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Place hand sanitizer at entrances, exits, and high traffic areas
  • Place cleaning wipes in high traffic areas
  • Encourage employees to stay home if they’re unwell

Each business is different, so consider all your options to help create a customized re-opening policy for your company. You can also reach out to employees to see what steps would help make them more comfortable with returning to the office. 

Communicate Steps You’re Taking to Help Protect Employees

In addition to taking precautions to help limit the spread of COVID, communication with your employees is essential! Communication helps let people know what you expect, such as return date and policies they need to follow. 

Also, communicating all the steps you’re taking may help people feel more comfortable with returning to a physical workspace. Your employees are probably going to want to know what you’re doing to help protect their health and safety. Explaining the precautions you’re taking can help people feel more comfortable returning to the office. Tell them every change you’re making, from more frequent Houston office cleaning services to temperature checks to help screen for people who might be sick. This helps show that you care for your employees’ safety.

Fast Response Houston Commercial Cleaning at Competitive Prices

If you need solutions to help keep your workplace clean, sanitary, and germ-free, contact our team at Accredited Building Services! We’ve been helping businesses with janitorial services since 1980 and have implemented specialized procedures and training for our staff since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team offers services for all your regular cleaning and building maintenance needs. We also offer rapid response to emergency service requests, such as disinfection services after someone in your building gets COVID or maintenance for a leak in your office while your office has been closed. Call us now at (281) 578-2296 for a free quote or to request service!