During this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing we can be sure of (or hope) is that everyone is washing their hands often and cleaning regimes are increasing in thoroughness and are taking place more frequently.
The use of cleaning products is increasing, and with this comes further potential for health hazards to arise when using domestic cleaners and hand sanitisers. Our COSHH experts at Alcumus Sypol have complied 5 top tips to ensure your safety when using such products.
1) Hand sanitisers
Hand sanitisers with greater than 60% alcohol (ethanol) are stated as being effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19. These will be safe in contact with skin when used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions but excessive over exposure should be avoided. Such over exposure can cause skin dryness and cracking which may lead to irritant contact dermatitis, which is not only painful, but can increase your exposure to infection with COVID-19 through broken skin.
2) Eliminate sources of ignition where hand sanitisers are stored, dispensed or used
Although posing minimal risk of harm to human health, it’s important to be aware that liquids and gels containing 60% or more of ethanol will be classified as highly flammable. Ethanol burns with a pale blue flame which may be hard to see. If you are storing large quantities of such sanitisers, then you may need to review your fire risk assessments and DSEAR assessments.
3) Don’t be tempted to ‘self-sanitise’ with methanol
Methanol comes in many forms including solutions or spirits. Although it’s an alcohol with anti-viral properties, methanol is toxic in contact with the skin and may cause serious, irreversible health problems following skin contact.
4) Do not to mix acidic cleaners with alkaline cleaners
Hard surface cleaners, etc. are being used to control the spread of COVID-19 and their use will have increased dramatically due to the current pandemic. Basic safety rules for the use of cleaning products will remain the same. Extra care is needed not to mix acidic cleaners (such as Harpic, descalers etc.) with alkaline cleaners (such as Domestos, bleach, etc.) as these can react violently and release toxic chlorine gas. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
5) Ensure you are using compatible and safe products for the task in hand
Make sure that any cleaning products used are compatible and safe for items that are being disinfected or sanitised. Aggressive cleaning products may damage surface finishes or could even cause dangerous corrosion or degradation which could affect ongoing safe use of items. Check manufacturer’s technical information and contact them for advice if necessary. Be wary of people claiming they have ‘miracle products’ which will solve all problems – where possible stick with your usual, reputable suppliers.
Alcumus Sypol’s COSHH experts have created free, downloadable COSHH risk assessments which provide important information on how to effectively control exposure to Coronavirus.