Originally Posted: March 17, 2020
Updated: February 15th, 2022
With the peak of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus behind us and a large portion of the Canadian population now vaccinated, there is hope that 2022 will see businesses being able to sustain focus on strategies to recover. Still, many people in and outside of Canada are looking for guidance for proper workplace disinfection so this blog will remain on our website for the time being.
In November 2020, the Canadian government revised it’s guidance on how COVID-19 spreads, based on many good studies that have been conducted around the world. Experts now agree that the highest risk of virus spread is through respiratory droplets and aerosols that are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, shouts, sings, or talks. While larger droplets fall out of the air quickly, aerosols can remain suspended in the air for large periods of time. This reinforces the need for masks, social distancing and limiting time spent indoors with people outside our bubbles. It has also highlighted the role of ventilation as an important discussion in the fight against COVID-19 transmission. Here is a link to an open letter that was written by physicians, engineers and other professional to the government of Ontario, Canada, about the importance of investing in ventilation systems as a defence against the aerosol transmission of COVID-19. The letter recommends the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) detectors as an inexpensive way to evaluate ventilation in a workspaces that don’t have the luxury of allowing remote working. Periodically opening windows and doors and/or using local HEPA air filtration is a way to refresh air in areas of poor circulation, in the short term. As a longer term solution, investing in upgraded ventilation is a smart way to future proof workplaces, not only against future transmissible diseases but for worker protection against everyday use of hazardous workplace chemicals.
While fomite transmission (surface to hand to eyes, nose or mouth) is considered to be low risk, workers all over the world are still being asked to spend much of their day cleaning countless surfaces with disinfectants. This high-frequency disinfecting represents a much higher exposure to these chemicals than is normal and can result in issues from dermatitis to lung disease, if the chemicals are not handled properly.
To help employers build a protocol for the disinfecting process, Rillea Technologies has developed a free webinar entitled The Why, What and How of Disinfecting for the Coronavirus also available on RilleaTech’s YouTube Channel for those requiring subtitles. Please feel free to watch the webinar at your convenience.
It is understandable that low-risk or not, employers want to ensure that common work areas are being properly disinfected with disinfectants meeting the criteria for use against the coronavirus. To make it easy for employers to find these products, Health Canada has shared a list of hard-surface disinfectants that have drug identification numbers (DIN) and are approved for sale in Canada.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also identified disinfectants in their List N, that are thought to be effective against the coronavirus. Note that per guidance from the EPA FAQs, all products in List N are thought to be effective, even if they do not specifically list the “human coronavirus”.
Both the EPA List N and Health Canada’s product lists have been growing daily as more and more products undergo drug review and hopefully businesses are finding it easier to source products with efficacy. Note that many of these disinfectants can be harmful to people and the environment. Please take the time to read the product safety data sheet before it is used and ensure that employees have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and training to use it safely.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like help developing a Chemicals Management System!