Washing hands important, but cleaning devices used in retail also necessary

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    AS COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Philippines, only essential retail businesses like supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies are still allowed to operate but with at a higher level of cleanliness and hygiene.

    High contact areas–is a medical definition correctly used now this pandemic, which is a medical condition. The Center for Infectious Diseases defines high-touch surfaces as those “sustaining more than one contact per interaction; or touched more than 48.6 percent of the time during an 8-hour shift. The word “shift” is used because it applies to a hospital setting. But the same can be carried over to non-hospital conditions, such as the steering wheel of a car, the screen of a phone or tablet or the keyboard of a laptop.

    5 areas of high surface contact from a medical point of view. (Image from the WHO)

    To ensure the safety of customers, frequent sanitization of retail facilities has become a necessity. However, the disinfection of devices used by their front-line staff is equally important, when it comes to curbing the spread of the virus.

    For retailers–those in the business of selling, demonstrating, repairing–devices need to be very conscious of this point of contact and the high touch surface. It would be counterproductive to expect front-line staff and store associates to wash their hands multiple times a day but only to touch a dirty device immediately afterward. This is especially true if the point-of-sale happens in a succession such as when handling equipment, tablets or mobile computers, and even issuing receipts from label printers.

    Mobile devices become contaminated with bacteria from the constant handling by staff. According to a whitepaper on devices used in healthcare, a typical mobile device has 18 times more bacteria than a public toilet door handle. If the coronavirus can survive for up to 6 hours or more on particular surfaces, disinfection should as be regular as each time it is handled. But is this even possible?

    So how should retailers properly clean and disinfect their devices without damaging them?

    Here are some of the best practices picked up from Zebra Technologies. The company is a pioneer in enterprise-class technology products and solutions. Its healthcare technology solutions provide a higher level of patient care, connecting patient data to clinicians and providers in real-time. This allows them to share best practices on maintaining a well-disinfected retail and hospital environment in a non-technology setting.

    Disinfection vs cleaning

    With so many people touching devices like the point-of-sale equipment in stores, proper cleaning and disinfection of surfaces need to be observed. It’s not enough to just clean the glass components or the surfaces of buttons. Supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores must thoroughly disinfect the plastic parts as well such as the housing and the nooks and crannies to prevent the transmission of contagions.

    Optimal results can often be achieved with the use of a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cleaning products can remove up to 98 percent of bacteria and 93 percent of viruses from surfaces by using clean water.

    Yet, simply wiping down a device is not enough. Even when fingerprints are cleaned from a device, the surface may still be covered with bacteria. So, unless the right disinfectant is used, the device may not be completely safe for usage again.

    Health experts emphasize the 5:1 rule of thumb or ratio for cleaning and disinfecting devices. This means that a device should be disinfected with a microfiber cloth at least five times after the device has been cleaned at the beginning of the workday. Users should also consider using disinfecting equipment with approved disinfectants based on the device, coupled with a regular cleaning schedule.

    Implementing immediate disinfecting processes

    Contrary to popular belief, the best disinfectant is not always those that are alcohol-based. Depending on the device and its usage, other forms of cleaning agents can also include sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide or even mild dish soap.

    Therefore, it is important for users to refer to the official sources of their devices to understand which cleaning agents are safe to use and the best way to clean their devices with. Otherwise, using the wrong cleaning agent may have a harsh effect on the devices, especially the plastic casing.

    It is recommended that retailers implement a device cleaning policy as soon as possible by referring to the original suppliers’ guidelines. This will help ensure that their front-line staff can properly disinfect their devices regularly. In addition, it will reassure store associates that the necessary steps are taken to prevent any shared technology devices from becoming a potential source of virus transmission.

    Lastly, it is important to implement precautions and best practices for handling devices during the cleaning process to ensure the safety of both the front-line staff and customers.

    Here is a link to learn a step-by-step guide to cleaning your cellphone from thespruce.com. The site have many tips on cleaning and even making homemade facemasks. –with Zebra Technologies, WHO-IDC 

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