Like it or not, we’re fighting a germ war, and always have been. Now though, clients, public and service providers are more aware of the risks, and we have better weapons at our disposal. Ashley White, Commercial and Safety Manager of cleaning and FM services specialist Nviro, demystifies fogging as a sanitisation technique.
Fogging the Germ War
Chemical or bio-fogging has been around a long time as a way of sanitising interior spaces in buildings. But what once was a highly specialised (and costly) cleaning technique for clean rooms, hospitals and the food processing sector is now seeping into the mainstream.
There are various factors spreading its appeal. As in other areas of cleaning, the progress made in developing new chemical treatments has been remarkable. Historically, various chemicals including formaldehyde, phenol-based agents and compounds of ammonium have been used in fogging. Many had not been properly tested for potential effects on human health, some were toxic and others even damaged materials they came into contact with.
Advances in biocidal technology have bypassed these problems so that bio-fogging is now known to be both safe and effective. In practical terms, not only is it now far more straightforward to carry out fogging, we can demonstrate how effective it is through simple before and after tests, using ATP monitors (see below).
The other big factor is the growing demand for infection control and enhanced cleaning services. As a society we are now all too aware of the risks posed by the winter Norovirus vomiting bug, MRSA infections in hospitals, and less regular but potentially lethal swine and bird flu pandemics. At times of heightened risk, hand sanitisers moved from hospital entrances into corporate offices, and are now increasingly commonplace.
Managing these risks falls increasingly on the facilities manager, in particular where they serve large employers. They understand the impact on their business of high levels of sickness, which runs to hundreds of millions of pounds each year in the UK. The employee well-being agenda has focused further attention on how the workplace is serviced, and on the importance of cleaning, indoor air quality and hygiene.
From schools and universities to ferry terminals, premises managers are responding to these higher expectations and their organisations’ duty of care to staff, students, passengers and everyone using their facilities.
As well as the threat of disruption to any organisation and financial loss to business, there is the risk of reputational damage too, especially if the response to an outbreak is slow or ineffectual.
In parallel to these developments, the more enlightened FM and cleaning service providers are expanding and enhancing their capabilities to support FMs and their goals, including more healthy workplaces.