Reprinted from cmmonline.com

Removing Gray Areas
Effective training is key to infection prevention
by John M. Poole Jr. April 28, 2020

How does an environmental services (EVS) technician approach his or her responsibilities in thwarting the spread of pathogens? Is infection control a conscious awareness or a trained response? From my observations, the answer is both. The technician must make a conscious effort to prevent the transmission of infectious pathogens. It is the employer’s responsibility, however, to train the technician to follow an established program of cleaning and apply confirmed protocols. The gray area in infection prevention is where the subjective interpretation of clean meets the objective interpretation of clean. Here are a few ways to remove the gray areas in your operations.

Set cleaning protocols
Are your employees following established protocols? I often question technicians about their understanding of safety data sheets (SDS). More often than not, I receive an ambiguous answer. This suggests to me that training is cursory—not defined or reinforced with a demonstrated response of understanding the importance of the SDS.

I believe we all understand the importance of SDS in the daily use of chemicals, especially disinfectants. I will presume health care EVS organizations train their employees on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Hazard Communication Standard that encompasses the SDS sheets. So why do the technicians I questioned have vague answers about SDS sheets? Make sure standard cleaning protocols are not only followed but are also understood.

Provide clear instructions
Workers expose the gray area again when they appear to lack an understanding of the cleaning regime. The process of cleaning is designed to be efficient. What would you say if you observed a technician enter a vacant patient room and immediately begin to mop the floor? We can agree this is not the correct starting point. Did the employer give the cleaner a set of work instructions that provides a step-by-step plan on cleaning activities? My observation is probably not. To avoid self-direction, managers  should provide written work instructions for proper cleaning and disinfection to every technician for easy reference. The technician can refer to this step-by-step checklist instead of relying on memory.

Inspection does not come naturally
Do the technician, supervisor, and quality control technician know how to inspect? Objective appraisal is the process of looking at a surface to determine if it is clean. The inspection process requires training in how and where to look. Here are a few tips
for inspections:

Get down on the floor
Inspectors should be able to stoop down low or get on their hands and knees to look under a bed. (Hey, it is good aerobics!) Ensure there is no hair, dust, or particulate matter remaining after cleaning. The same goes for bed rails. Blood on railings and other surfaces is an infectious situation and a serious threat to the next patient in that room.