COVID-19 and hand tools are a dangerous combination. Think how easily the virus could be spread from one person to the next and the next… Want to know how often you should clean hand tools during the COVID-19 crisis? Here we outline best recommendations for a responsible cleaning regime and why you should have one. We have taken advice from our Health & Safety Consultant, UK government documents, the FMB, the Construction Leadership Council and a really detailed guide from the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association in Canada.
COVID-19 typically spreads through coughing and sneezing, personal contact with an infected person, or touching an infected surface and then the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Each person touching a tool is a potential carrier. They may have picked up the virus from somewhere else, or may have early onset of the virus themselves and are not aware.
This helps prevent the transfer of the COVID-19 virus from surface to surface, and from the infected surface or material to the hands and then to other parts of the body–particularly the eyes, nose, and mouth. This and 2m distancing are the two guidelines considered to be most effective in combating the risk of infection.
Hands that are visibly soiled or dirty should be washed with soap and water first. Sanitizing is less effective on soiled or dirty hands. Always clean your hands before touching your face or eating, or getting into your vehicle to go home, regardless of other precautions taken.
Cleaning the hand tools that workers will be touching will add another layer of protection.
This is particularly important when tools are shared. The person in charge of the site should take the lead and work with contractors to encourage consistent hygiene practices.
Regular tool cleaning when there is no suspected case of COVID-19 can be accomplished using a soap and water solution, or a commercially available disinfecting hand towel wipe, or by a disinfecting wash. Consider escalating the cleaning protocol in both the frequency and the disinfecting method when more people are expected to touch the tool.
This is the government’s advice on the actual cleaning process, although not specific to construction.
It is a legal requirement to undertake a separate COVID-19 specific Risk Assessment for each of your building sites. Hand tool management is featured in the HBXL COVID-19 Risk Assessment for builders – both construction sites and offices – in the Health & Safety Xpert 2020 software.
While we’re talking sharing, under no circumstances should PPE, including facemasks or any kind of face covering be shared. Note that sharing mobile phones, tablets, pens etc may risk infection. Also encourage increased hand washing before and after handling not just hand tools, but all equipment, materials, waste and vehicles.
In addition to isolating and cleansing tools and equipment, inform new contractors and new workers of the protocols, and which tools and equipment are in isolation. Store enough cleaning and disinfecting solutions on site to deal with expected demand.
Also, identify a number of workers that are competent to perform disinfecting protocols. If a worker unexpectedly does not show up for work, contact the worker to learn if they are self-isolating, and if so, enact your control measures to isolate an cleanse areas that may be affected.
Our Health & Safety Xpert 2020 software contains a range of COVID-19 resources. The new documents have been produced in conjunction with our Health & Safety Consultant, following government guidelines.
Of course you still have to undertake the health and safety measures, but the software goes a long way to making the process much easier. You can buy the software outright for £999+VAT or subscribe to it for an annual payment of £399+VAT.
The software does the compliance thinking for you. It matches up-to-the-minute, industry-standard documents (over 150 Risk Assessments, 130 COSHH Assessments, 70 Toolbox Talks, 30 Management documents and three Method Statement templates) to the job! Tell the software what you’re building and the software will tell you what you need to do – filling out much of the paperwork for you.
If you don’t have Health & Safety Xpert 2020 and want more information, give us a call on 0117 916 7898. If you want to discuss updating your HBXL software then call 0117 916 7892.