COVID-19 Equipment Maintenance and Cleaning Protocols
What COVID-19 protocols are required for cleaning and maintaining equipment?
- Clean off excess dirt
- Always wear PPEs
- Disinfect equipment after use
- Focus on high-touch areas
- Train employees on proper cleaning
- Frequent hand sanitation
As the construction industry begins returning to work, all safety measures and guidelines must be accounted for. These include social distancing measures, as well as, equipment maintenance protocols that should be strictly adhered to in order to foster a safer workplace.
On top of the already-required maintenance procedures to keep tools and other machines running in tip-top condition, expansive protocols should be used to ensure that any potential contamination doesn’t survive on the surface of the devices. Continue reading to learn more.
Clean off excess dirt
It’s crucial that the excess dirt be cleaned before machine operators begin navigating equipment on-site.
For example, if the construction company or the contractor is resuming operations for the first time in many months, it’s possible that the equipment also has not been run for long periods of time. Due to storage practices, excessive dust and debris might have gathered in the different areas of the equipment.
Equipment can be cleaned by way of the manufacturer’s recommendations that can be found in the manual. In the event that this has been misplaced, employees should see to it that they practice proper dusting and sweeping, making sure that the machine creates a more breathable environment. For example, they can make use of a simple mild soap or diluted chlorine solution that is both effective against germs and bacteria.
After, it’s also effective to subject the machine to a high-powered cleaning tool like water cannons. This should be performed by every worker who makes use of the equipment before and after every worksite shift.
Always wear PPEs
Workers who are returning to work on the sites should always keep it a point that they’re wearing the proper personal protective equipment or PPEs. This means that existing construction equipment like hard hats, high-vis clothing, safety shoes, goggles, gloves, earmuffs, or safety belts would need to accommodate facemasks.
While conducting maintenance on the equipment, workers should be wearing these PPEs at all times. Fortunately, incorporating non-valve facemasks like surgical, face shields, or N95s isn’t difficult, as they can easily fit right in with other safety equipment that may already be worn by the employee.
These PPEs can protect them from a range of contaminants and fumes that may arise as a result of comprehensive inspection of the equipment — like tire inspection, fuel top-ups, wheel replacements, and the like. More importantly, they act as protection against other harmful airborne particles that may not necessarily be visible to the naked eye.
Disinfect equipment after use
Every equipment should be subject to proper disinfecting after use. This does not solely refer to wiping, cleaning, and vacuuming, but this also includes using EPA-approved products for cleaning equipment.
The areas to be disinfected are dependent on the type of equipment that is being used. Excavators and bulldozers which may have attachments need to be first be free of dirt and grime that may stick to the surface of the components. After this has been properly done, workers should be able to apply other comprehensive cleaning techniques using such disinfectants like ethanol or hydrogen peroxide.
Focus on high-touch areas
All equipment, regardless of whatever type it is, would have common objects or components that may be more frequently used compared to the others. These are typically called high-touch surfaces that may be present in both the vehicle’s interior and exterior.
Other equipment can have specialized components that should be cleaned, but it’s essential to focus on surfaces like steering wheels, operating decks, seatbelts, rearview or side-view mirrors, latches, keys, door handles, and the like. For added safety, the worker should wear a different pair of gloves when it comes to wiping off dirt and grime for these surfaces. The equipment should also be already turned off in order to avoid potential hazards like electrical grounding.
All throughout the cleaning process, the worker responsible must make sure that there are no loose objects or material that may be hanging from the equipment. This is to avoid workplace accidents that may transpire.
Train employees on proper cleaning
Upon returning to work, every employee should have undergone the necessary training to allow them to properly clean and maintain the vehicles and other tools they may be using. These protocols should have already been communicated beforehand as a way of preparing themselves. It may be necessary to plaster a memorandum or an infographic in certain areas of the worksite to serve as a constant reminder for everyone to adhere to these protocols.
Likewise, it’s important that all the employees have the necessary access to cleaning tools like brushes, cloths, brooms, and other disinfectants. These materials should be strategically stored in the workplace where they’ll be within the reach of a person who might be making use of it. Likewise, it’s important to maintain a constant supply of other PPEs and other materials to ensure that there will be no shortage.
Frequent Hand Sanitization
Last but not least, consistent hand sanitization can make a significant difference when guaranteeing the cleanliness and safety of the worksite. Aside from social distancing protocols, frequent hand washing is an essential practice that all employees must be mindful of in order to prevent the spread of bacteria and secure the environment.
The kind of equipment maintenance protocols that have been implemented largely depends on the kind of equipment. But basic tenets such as the wearing of PPEs, procurement of cleaning supplies, and focus on high-touch surfaces should already be standardized in the construction site.
All equipment should be subject to the proper disinfecting using authority-recommended materials that will prove to be effective against COVID-19. Worksites should make it a point to constantly house an adequate supply of these low-value, yet critical products to achieve maximum safety for everyone on site.