Does the roll-out of the vaccine mean that small businesses should forget about infection control measures? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, the opposite is true.
The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious that UK businesses across every sector are ill-prepared and vulnerable to future disruption. This approach is not sustainable. Infection control has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to becoming a critical element of any ethical business. Evidence of infection control will make businesses more attractive to both customers and prospective employees. It will impact positively on metrics such as staff loyalty and productivity.
There remains an obvious short-term requirement – vaccine roll-out is still happening, and new strains of Covid are emerging. But, in the long-term, businesses – of any size – that are unable to demonstrate a commitment to infection control may lose ground on more responsible competitors. Infection control is not only a health and safety concern – it is becoming a key differentiator.
UV Light – not just a big business concern
The use of UV light to disinfect against Covid has been talked about in the media – but only in relation to large-scale sites such as hospitals or airports. Little has been said about UV usage on a smaller scale. So what’s the reality? Is UV effective as a Covid deterrent? And is it a solution that’s out of reach for most?
Specifically, we are talking here 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 also used for curing within the dental industry. The size and cost of UV-C light solutions has previously been prohibitive to most organisations. Now, more portable lamp solutions are available.
UV-C light can be adapted for any situation. Air sterilisation units are one option – these can remove harmful microbes from the air while rooms are still occupied. Alternatively, powerful UV-C light lamps deliver rapid surface sterilisation. These lamps require users to leave the room while the UV light does its job. Remote control operation makes this an easy process.
Do your research
Businesses must be sure to research solutions thoroughly. A number of smaller, hand-held devices are currently flooding the market claiming to offer UV disinfection. However, these products are typically ineffective and, in fact, potentially do more harm than good if business owners believe their premises have been safely cleaned.
Generally speaking, UV light will kill microorganisms by damaging their DNA or RNA depending on the type of virus. The UV light breaks the microorganisms down on a molecular level, destroying existing bonds within the microorganisms and causing new ones to form. Once the microorganism’s DNA or RNA is severely damaged, it will no longer be able to function or survive. Portable UV-C light lamps can be plugged in, switched on and, within fifteen minutes, all viruses, bacteria and fungi within a defined area will be eliminated.
Small businesses are switching on
Take-up amongst smaller businesses is quickly rising. Hertfordshire-based vet Lauren Hammond, who recently invested in UV solutions for her veterinary practice, comments: “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, who states: “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 any future outbreaks or disruptions of a similar nature. That’s really reassuring.”
A solution for today – and the future
Coronavirus is here to stay and businesses are looking to find solutions that enable a return to some semblance of normality. Manually cleaning premises is difficult, placing a strain on staff and resources. UV light – previously only a solution realistically affordable to larger-scale operations – is now portable, powerful and cost-effective for smaller businesses. Forward-thinking SMEs are already benefitting.