COVID-19: Cleaning and Disinfecting Chemicals in Your Schools
As states and communities in the U.S. begin to reopen from COVID-19 restrictions, schools are planning for how they can best help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19 when they reopen in the fall.
According to information published by the CDC, COVID-19 is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. It is thought that the virus may spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose or mouth, causing infection. In response, the CDC is providing schools with a variety of guiding principles to consider to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including providing adequate supplies of soap and hand sanitizer that includes at least 60% alcohol and an increased routine of cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Ensuring the Safe Use of Cleaning and Disinfecting Chemicals
Many school staff who were not previously involved in cleaning and disinfecting may now be frequently using cleaning and disinfecting chemicals as they work together to maintain a safe environment for staff and students. As the usage of cleaning and disinfecting chemicals increases, it is critical to follow safe work practices to prevent additional safety risks.
Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) & Hazard Communication
Employers must obtain and maintain safety data sheets (SDSs) for all hazardous cleaning products and chemicals that they use. SDSs must be readily accessible to employees. OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard also requires that information about the hazards and associated protective measures related to working with chemicals is communicated to employees.
When cleaning chemicals are hazardous, employers must train employees on safe work practices for using these chemicals before the employee begins using the cleaners. OSHA recommends the following safe work practices:
- Warning employees not to mix cleaning products that contain bleach and ammonia.
- Making sure that employees know which cleaning chemicals must be diluted and how to correctly dilute the cleaners they are using.
- Thoroughly reviewing and training employees on the use, storage and emergency spill procedures for cleaning chemicals.
- Reviewing the proper protective equipment needed, such as gloves and goggles, and providing the proper protective equipment to the employees using the cleaning product.
- Ensuring that all containers of cleaning products and chemicals are labeled to identify their contents and hazards.
- Operating ventilation systems as needed during cleaning tasks to allow sufficient air flow and prevent buildup of hazardous vapors.
- Providing employees with a place to wash up after using cleaning chemicals.
How SafeSchools SDS Can Help
SafeSchools SDS is our online SDS and chemical management system, accessible from any web-enabled device, and is compliant with GHS:
- Create, update, and store your chemical inventory lists and SDSs into virtual binders.
- Organize your chemical inventory and binders by work area.
- Print out physical binders, secondary container labels, and location posters with QR codes that provide key information on chemicals in a specific location.
- Use our powerful search feature to quickly find a specific SDS in case of an emergency.