Cleaning and disinfection during COVID-19

Loss prevention measures for reopening public spaces

Reducing the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public spaces that will require careful planning. It is important that COVID-19 infection prevention measures announced by National Health Agencies are implemented and followed.

Most employers have considered the impact of increased cleaning requirements on their workforce; however, some may not have considered other related risks and how to prevent any potential resulting losses.

At Swiss Re Corporate Solutions we have been considering these risks for a wide range of public spaces, workplaces, businesses, and schools. Our Risk Engineering experts have produced a loss prevention report looking at some of the general liability risks brought by the increased cleaning, sanitisation, and disinfection requirements of the pandemic when restarting operations.

The risks of increased cleaning and disinfection when reopening public spaces

When choosing methods for cleaning and disinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic, the risks faced are multifaceted. The implications can be financial, legal/compliance, business interruption, and reputational/brand.

Risks arising from increased cleaning requirements of public spaces, workplaces and schools from a general liability perspective include:

Reputation/financial risks: Any organisation that cannot show that it is complying with government cleaning/disinfection guidance could be forced to temporarily shut down and face hefty fines. Should that organisation find their premises to be the centre of a local outbreak, the risk to the brand's reputation is immeasurable. Proper planning is key, and before reopening premises, it is important to put together a comprehensive plan for cleaning and disinfection. Equally important is to have that plan documented to monitor performance, and communicated widely.

Alternative disinfection methods risks: Businesses around the world have begun intensive disinfection regimens – and today, there are a lot of new disinfection methods on the market. The growing popularity of alternative disinfection methods such as UV light, fogging and electrostatic application bring new risks that need to be carefully considered. Of particular concern to health and safety professionals is the risk of exposing returning workers and the public to chemicals that are largely untested for human health, and of which, efficacy against the COVID-19 virus has yet to be conclusive. In choosing disinfectant materials, always seek approved products by your National Health Agencies.

Property damage risks: Increased frequency of cleaning and new disinfection methods could also have unforeseen effects on materials, resulting in wear and tear of products, property and machinery.

Generic loss prevention measures to reduce risk

Our report on Cleaning and disinfection during COVID-19: Loss prevention measures for reopening public spaces looks at each of these exposure in more detail, and shares general loss prevention measures that can be taken to mitigate these elevated risks.

In the rush to reopen premises, it can also be easy to forget the necessity of proper planning and documentation. It is important to look at the increased cleaning, sanitisation, and disinfection requirements necessary during this pandemic from a full risk management perspective.

Our latest report also looks at this planning process, who needs to be involved, and how the plan should be communicated and enforced.

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Cleaning and disinfection during COVID-19

​Restarting Operations Following Idle Periods