Return to work safely: Environmental surface swabbing
18 May 2020
In light of the UK government’s request for employers to enable staff to safely return to work where possible, the imperative for employers to implement upgraded health and safety monitoring procedures is paramount. In response, SOCOTEC, the UK’s leading provider of testing, inspection and compliance services, has introduced a new environmental swabbing procedure to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) on surfaces across a range of workplace environments.
The new method has been adopted in light of preliminary research which indicates that the COVID-19 virus has prolonged tenacity on surfaces, with contact via contaminated surfaces suggested as a possible cause of infection. Results will enable management to implement appropriately targeted cleaning procedures to minimise risk of transmission, enabling employees to return to work safely.
“As certain Government restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic begin to ease, many organisations are now facing the overwhelming task of returning their buildings to full occupancy,” said Norman Sleeth, managing director, Environment & Safety, SOCOTEC UK. “Our new environmental swabbing method forms just one of a wide range of testing, inspection and compliance services that aims to get buildings ‘business ready’, instilling employers with confidence and reassurance regarding occupational health, safety and hygiene as they continue to operate through these uncertain times.”
The new swabbing procedure can be applied across a variety of workplace environments, including offices, factories, communal/public areas and public transportation, testing such surfaces as door/grab handles, light switches, HVAC vents, table/desk tops, office equipment, control panels, seat backs, sinks and toilet cubicles amongst others.
To carry out the test, sterile swabs will be gently rubbed and rolled over a set area of the surface to be sampled. This process is repeated using fresh swabs for all other areas and locations that require sampling. Analysis is carried out by a specialist partner laboratory using Ribonucleic acid (RNA) testing, which detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA fragments.
Results will be reported in a comprehensive format comprising observations, salient points and recommendations for improvement, ensuring full compliance with relevant legislation. Photographic evidence will also be compiled within the report to indicate precisely where samples were taken.