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Nine cornerstones of infection prevention for non-healthcare facilities


n outbreak can occur at any time and there is much a facility can do to plan in advance what they might need and how they will react. Being prepared will remove uncertainty at a critical time and ensure the facility can respond quickly and effectively. Each situation will vary depending on the specific circumstances, but every infection prevention programme will most likely be based on a core set of tasks such as those outlined in our checklist below. 1. Preparation/risk assessment: The best infection prevention programmes are developed before a crisis. It is critical to build a team that meets regularly and is empowered to make decisions for the facility. This team will identify potential gaps in how the facility would respond to specific challenges, such as an outbreak of Influenza, Ebola, or MERS. With COVID-19, for example, Diversey has created a comprehensive knowledge database that is packed with useful information which facilities may use to prepare and implement preventative measures and enhanced hygiene guidelines. After completing the risk assessment, the team should make recommendations to the facility. These might include, for example, adding more handwashing/sanitising stations or larger storage capacity for any infection prevention supplies that may be required. Modifications like these take time which is why it is always best to plan well before any possible outbreak. The team’s recommendations may also include ensuring there will be enough supplies of items such as disinfectants, disinfectant wipes, hand hygiene products, facial tissues, toilet paper and extra waste bins to use during an outbreak. 2. Vaccinations: Providing and/or requiring employee vaccinations, wherever possible, helps to protect staff and prevent transmission of pathogens to guests/customers. Healthcare facilities in many countries now require their employees to have annual influenza vaccinations, for example. We encourage this in other sectors where practical. 3. Communication materials: Signs and other communication materials are essential if a facility wants its customers/guests to perform certain behaviours such as washing hands or using hand sanitisers. Good designs will help the facility maintain high levels of compliance, instil confidence and enhance its reputation. 4. Stock supplies: If an outbreak should occur or there is a new pathogen of concern the facility will be able to respond much 8 INCLEAN NEW ZEALAND May 2021

more quickly if it knows in advance what supplies will be needed and their lead times. Items to consider include cleaning products, disinfectants, hand hygiene products, disposable wipes, paper towels, waste bags and bins, toilet paper, bottled water, gloves, gowns, masks, and so on. Planning should include not just the items needed but how much to order and when to ensure continuity of supply. It can also be useful to plan for extra waste collections to deal with increased volumes. 5. Hand hygiene: Frequent hand hygiene is the simplest and most cost-effective way to prevent the spread of pathogens. Studies in healthcare settings demonstrate that access to hand hygiene is the best predictor of whether people will perform it frequently. Washing with soap and water is effective at removing viruses and other pathogens. If additional products such as antimicrobial hand rubs or gels are used it is vital to ensure they meet relevant standards and are effective against pathogens of concern. For example, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is an enveloped virus. This type of virus is generally easy to kill. 6. Surface cleaners/disinfectants: Clean hands will not help stop the spread of infections if they then touch a dirty or contaminated surface. It is therefore critical to clean surfaces regularly using suitable products, disinfectants, and tools (e.g. cloths, spray bottles, etc) as part of an established daily routine. In the event of an outbreak or new pathogen of concern, it may be necessary to change products or increase the frequency of cleaning in the event of a new outbreak or pathogen of concern. Disinfectants that can be legally supplied in Australia have to be listed in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) Diversey is leading the way and offer 18 approved disinfectants to kill COVID-19*, see 7. Cleaning practices, standards, and schedules: All facilities should have standard cleaning practices that should detail: • Materials needed • Cleaning methods to use • Surfaces or equipment to be cleaned/disinfected • How often the cleaning frequency will be increased or otherwise modified in the event of an outbreak or emergence of a new pathogen of concern • Checklists and other work management tools prepared in advance to introduce enhanced cleaning if needed. The aim is to make sure there is no question of what to do – only when to start doing it. Cleaning should include standard recommendations such as: