Germs exist among us even though they are invisible to the naked sight. They are more likely to be seen on surfaces where hands are used relatively regularly. They’re referred to as “high-touch surfaces.”
Radar, door handles, light switches, handrails, keyboards, cell phones, television remote controls, taps, etc. are common examples of equipment controls. Staff members who touch certain surfaces and subsequently touch their noses, mouth, or eyes can become infected. Germs can persist on some surfaces for anywhere between a few hours and a few days. After all, hand-mediated transmission is a significant factor in the spread of viruses like the flu.
It is therefore essential to eradicating the germs from these surfaces to ensure that they do not enter our bodies and infect us. To reduce the risk of such infections:
- Firstly, identify and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly; and
- Secondly, practice good hand hygiene which involves washing or disinfecting your hands regularly. We covered this in our earlier alert ‘Be a handwash hero!’
On the topic of high-touch surfaces, the first step for the crew is to identify them. Their identification would depend on various factors such as:
- Type of space, i.e. is it a public space, including workspaces, or private space? Areas like the navigation bridges, engine control room, cargo control room and mess rooms are likely to have numerous high-touch surfaces compared to some other areas onboard.
- Spaces visited by infected personnel;
- Surfaces frequently touched by the crew in their normal day-to-day activities.
Crew members should be aware that some high-touch surfaces, like the rear of a door handle, may be hidden and may go unnoticed throughout the identification process.
The next step is to create a procedure or timetable for the staff to follow while disinfecting high-touch areas. Compared to minimal touch surfaces, these areas need to be given priority. The crew should study the application and safety guidelines listed on the product used before applying it because the chemicals used in the disinfection process might be detrimental to the body.
In conclusion, it’s critical that the crew is aware that high-touch surfaces can serve as a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Identification and disinfection of such surfaces should be a component of onboard hygiene management for the passengers’ own health.
Gard loss prevention material
Poster: Be a handwash hero!
- ‘Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces’ by the Public Health Agency of Canada
- ‘Cleaning for Infection Prevention: Cold and Flu’ by International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA)
- ‘Advisory on Surface Cleaning and Disinfection for COVID-19’ by National Environment Agency, Singapore
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