With So Many Companies Offering Coronavirus Disinfection, How Do I Choose?
With active cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) approaching two million nationwide, infection rates are slowing, and states and counties are releasing restrictions on companies up and down the country. With many businesses preparing to open their doors for the first time since lockdown, and others looking at how they are going to manage active COVID-19 situations within their buildings, there’s never been a higher demand for disinfection companies.
This short guide will walk you through the problems the virus has caused the disinfection industry, and how to differentiate reliable and professional disinfection companies from those who merely claim to be one.
Rise in Virus Disinfection Demand Prompts Explosion of Disinfection Companies
“Where there’s a crisis, there’s an opportunity,” or so the famous saying goes. The global pandemic has affected almost every single industry, but perhaps none have been more turned on their head than in the case of the disinfection vertical. With the unsurprising boom in demand for deep cleaning and disinfecting services, so-called “wildcatters” have sprung up all over the country, looking to cash in on that demand.
Frequently, they have little (if any) experience when it comes to disinfecting, and they certainly lack the necessary specialist chemicals and equipment to do the job correctly. They aim to undercut the competition by offering a cheap service, but the unfortunate truth is that their service is worth the paper upon which they’ve written their invoice.
The other issue is that the virus has severely impacted those in similar industries who’ve tried to expand their services to include virus disinfection as a survival method. This includes janitorial companies, pest control companies, mold remediation services, and many in the medical disinfection industry. The loss of business has created a sense of panic among these companies, and jumping into the disinfection business has been the preferred tactic to drum up sales.
There are several issues with this practice. Firstly, many companies (including wildcatters) don’t hold the necessary certifications, licenses, or testing to verify their treatments. Those that do such as mold remediation and medical disinfection companies are incredibly expensive and slow-moving, making them ineffectual for small and medium-sized businesses.
Given this background, how can you assess and evaluate disinfection companies if you’re looking to rid your premises of virus particles and germs?
1. Beware of Low Prices
When receiving quotes for your business, be wary of incredibly low prices. If a disinfection company quotes you less than $200, it’s significant to note that travel costs are likely $30-$50, chemicals are $20-$40, and ATP testing (more on this later) will cost $5-$10 alone.
When you consider the fixed costs of a business in this vertical, which include substantial investments in PPE and insurance, it’s impossible for a company operating with integrity to turn a profit at those prices. Thus, if you see a price that low, you can safely ignore that so-called “professional” company.
2. Scrutinize the Disinfectants They’re Using
Unfortunately, the virus pandemic has given rise to a great deal of false information regarding chemical treatments that are supposedly 100% effective against coronavirus (or COVID-19) specifically. The problem, nobody knows with that amount of certainty. COVID-19 is called a novel coronavirus for a reason. It’s a brand new virus, which expert scientists are still trying to decode and decipher.
One certainty is that any claim made by a disinfecting company that their treatment provides 100% protection against COVID-19 is false. The EPA has drawn up policies to address this issue specifically and have created a list of products that are likely effective against the virus. The EPA’s Emerging Pathogen Policy or “List N,” provides a list of disinfectants that the EPA approves for protecting against SARS-CoV-2 (the disease that causes COVID-19). Their catalog is based on efficacy against previous similar viruses, and therefore they are likely to have comparable performances.
If a disinfection company tries to sell you on some “wonder cure” that guarantees eradication and ultimate protection against COVID-19, then steer clear. Ask prospective vendors which disinfectants they intend to use and cross-reference them with the EPA-approved list. If they’re not on the list, you know not to use them.
3. Press Companies on Their Approach to Airborne Particles
New entrants to the disinfection game are quickly found out when you press them on what they’re doing to combat the threat posed by airborne viral particles. Simple “spray and wipe” companies will be left floundering, trying to explain themselves.
All trustworthy and dependable disinfection companies have protocols to tackle airborne germs to counteract the virus’s contagiousness. Look for methods including increasing the air exchanges within your building to suck those particles to the outdoors, or utilizing hydroxyl free radicals that render viral particles inactive. The main takeaway is that there should be a tactic in place to take care of airborne viral particles. If they don’t have one, they haven’t completed their due diligence and are evidently lacking in experience.
4. Look for Credentials That Demonstrate Expertise
When disinfecting your business, receiving an inadequate service could literally cost lives. That’s why you need to evaluate a disinfection company’s credentials to see if they are up to the task. Start by looking for certifications for leading bodies in this vertical such as the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA) and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC).
Reputable companies that invest in these certifications demonstrate their commitment to quality and safety, those without any certifications may merely be on the hunt for a quick buck.
5. Assess All Processes, Procedures, and Insurances
Likewise, always ask a disinfection contractor to provide the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for their chemical and ask how they intend to apply it. Merely “fogging” a commercial property with a disinfectant is not enough. Since every high-touch surface is coated in a layer of “biofilm” made up of skin cells, bacteria, and other potentially harmful particulates, every inch must be deep cleaned for genuine disinfection.
The real acid test of any disinfection is Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing. This process is widely used in medical settings to set cleanliness benchmarks. If your contractor doesn’t provide an objective measurement of their disinfection protocol, how on earth can you measure how effective (if at all) the process has been? Companies who refuse or are unable to prove their effectiveness with ATP testing, as well as additional auditable documentation, shouldn’t even be let through the door.
Finally, having read and analyzed the SDS, how do staff members present themselves? Are they wearing correct PPE? Companies that have switched over to disinfecting part-time frequently exhibit catastrophic failures in providing the right protection to their employees. This is a critical issue because as it breaks the law under General Duty Clause, 29 USC 654, section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act of 1970. Letting a non-compliant contractor onto your premises shifts responsibility onto your shoulders too. If their employee gets sick after being on your property, that leaves you open to a lawsuit.
Bearing that information in mind, you need to have proof of a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from your disinfection company that covers you for at least $2 million (ideally $5 million) in damages for incidents (including pollution) that occur on your property. The higher the value of coverage, the lower the threat to your company. Without having a COI, you’re running a massive risk to your company’s future viability.
Choose Your Disinfection Company Carefully
There’s a lot that goes into operating a reputable disinfection company. Unfortunately, many newcomers looking to profit from the global virus pandemic think they can enter the market and secure quick profits while riding roughshod over the carefully formulated rules and regulations governing the industry.
Our sterilization process is FDA-approved, kills mold, bacteria, and up to 99.999999% of virus particles on hard and soft surfaces, as well as in the air. We then follow that up with our EPA-approved protection procedure, which provides a non-toxic, invisible, and antimicrobial barrier that lasts for up to 90 days. Lastly, we neutralize all odors, such as cigarette smoke, animal smells, and bacterial odors, to leave you with a safe space for customers, employees, and even animals.