Does the roll-out of the vaccine mean that small businesses should forget about infection control measures? Definitely not, says Keith Wyatt, Managing Director of UV Clean Light
The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious that UK businesses across every sector are ill prepared and vulnerable to future disruption. Such a position is clearly not sustainable at a time when infection control has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to become a critical consideration for any ethical business.
There remains an obvious short-term requirement for it, with people still waiting to be vaccinated and new strains of Covid emerging. But even longer term it is likely that businesses that are unable to demonstrate a commitment to infection control may lose out to more responsible competitors.
Infection control is not just a health and safety concern – it is also becoming a key differentiator that can make businesses more attractive to customers and prospective employees and positively impact metrics such as staff loyalty and productivity.
UV light for small businesses The use of UV light to disinfect against Covid has been talked about in the media – but only in relation to largescale sites such as hospitals or airports. Little has been said about its use on a smaller scale. So, what’s the reality organisations or is it a viable option for smaller organisations too?
Here, we are talking specifically about UV-C light energy, which is not the same as the UVA used in tanning beds or UVB, which as well as occurring naturally from sunlight exposure is used for curing within the dental industry.
Generally, UV light kills microorganisms by damaging their DNA or RNA, depending on the type of virus. It breaks micro-organisms down on a molecular level, destroying existing bonds within micro-organisms and causing new ones to form. Once the micro-organism’s DNA or RNA is severely damaged, it will no longer be able to function or survive.
UV-C light can be adapted for various situations. One option is to deploy air sterilisation units that remove harmful microbes from the air while rooms are still occupied. Another is to use powerful UV-C light lamps for rapid surface sterilisation. The latter require users to leave the room while the UV light does its job, with operation via remote control.
The size and cost of UV-C light solutions once made them prohibitive for most organisations. However, more portable solutions are now available, bringing the technology within reach of smaller businesses. Modern UV-C light lamps can be plugged in, switched on and, within 15 minutes, all viruses, bacteria and fungi within a defined area will have been eliminated.
That said, businesses must be sure to research solutions thoroughly. The market is currently flooded with smaller, hand-held devices that are claimed to offer UV disinfection. These products are sometimes ineffective and can potentially do more harm than good if business owners believe their premises have been safely cleaned when that is not the case.
Small businesses switch on
Take-up amongst smaller businesses is rising quickly. Hertfordshire-based vet Lauren Hammond, who recently invested in UV solutions for her veterinary practice, said: “We’re not replacing personal protective equipment; with UV light, we’re adding extra layers of protection. UV is a very clever, safe and sensible idea that is saving our business time and, more importantly, helping our people and our visitors to feel less vulnerable.”
This sentiment is shared by Jennifer Green, a therapist based in Liverpool. She said: “We plug the lamp on and leave it in the room. Depending on the size of the room, the lamp will completely disinfect all surfaces in 15-30 minutes, meaning we can safely occupy that room and switch the lamp to another space. This investment was a response to the challenges of now. But it also enables us to future-proof against future outbreaks or disruptions of a similar nature. That’s really reassuring.”
Coronavirus is here to stay and businesses are looking for solutions that will enable a return to some semblance of normality. Manually cleaning premises is difficult and places a strain on staff and resources. UV light, previously only really affordable for larger operations, is now portable, powerful and cost effective for smaller businesses, as forward-thinking SMEs are finding out.