The case of a Connecticut company recently fined by OSHA after workers got sick from a cleaning product highlights the importance of the proper use of disinfectants.
OSHA fined a Hartford-based transportation company for violations related to its drivers getting sick from a disinfectant used on a buses in June 2020 as part of COVID-19 prevention protocols.
Drivers apparently got ill after they boarded buses before the substance had properly dried or settled.
OSHA cited the company for a serious violation, saying it failed to provide drivers with information on the potential health effects of the disinfectant, which are known to include skin and respiratory problems.
OSHA issued a $7,711 fine last month.
Glenn Rasin, a chemical specialist for Milford-based EBP Supply Solutions, which sells commercial cleaning supplies throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, said it’s essential to follow directions.
“Just because you’re using a disinfectant doesn't mean you’re actually disinfecting,” said Rasin, speaking in general terms.
“You have to use it properly. We don’t want people’s skin coming near it or them ingesting it because these disinfectants are designed to kill germs.”
Rasin advises wearing personal protective equipment when using disinfectants and always cleaning a surface before disinfecting it.
Rasin is the lead trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which instructs the company’s customers on proper cleaning and disinfecting.
He said a chemical disinfectant has what’s known as dwell time—the time it must remain on a surface in order to kill pathogens.
“When you see someone spraying then immediately wiping down a surface, they’re doing nothing because you must spray on a surface then let the disinfectant sit,” he said.
Disinfectants that claim to kill certain viruses must first be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which also sets standards for how disinfectants are used.
A spray bottle is often an approved use. A high-volume sprayer is not.
“Some people think that taking a high-volume sprayer and going into a room and spraying disinfectant everywhere seems like a good idea,” Rasin said.
“But that practice is frowned upon by the EPA, the CDC, and me.”
That’s because when a disinfectant goes into the air, it stays there for hours, he said.
“If someone walks into a room and breaths it in, they’re going to get sick.”
Although studies have shown that the coronavirus is most likely spread through respiratory droplets, Rasin said he supports the focus on surface cleaning.
“Probably one of the few good things to come out of this pandemic is that people are conscious about cleaning and disinfecting,” he said.
“It’s gone from the boiler room to the board room.”
Rasin said his training duties are busier than ever as he visits more customers to instruct on proper cleaning and disinfection.
“People should be doing this 100%,” he said. “And they really should continue this after the pandemic ends.”
For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).