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Keeping Your Toolbox Healthy

May 1, 2020 
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You're in and out of residents' homes every day - and thanks to coronavirus, you'll forever be much more conscious of what you and your tools could be picking up along the way!. 

We have spent the last several weeks "social distancing" and many of our customers have only been able to answer emergency maintenance work orders due to the coronavirus crisis. We have all become more aware than ever of the unseen dangers that can be so easily transmitted from person to person or from unit to unit during our routine maintenance operations.

As we hope to emerge from under "stay home" orders and social restrictions soon, the lessons we have learned about the transmission of viruses should inspire practices to keep our residents and our maintenance teams safe from dangers like coronavirus in the future.

The Proper Use (& Reuse) of "PPE"

"Personal Protective Equipment" has, until now, been reserved for certain jobs but, going forward, may become part of every maintenance call. In a recent Virtual Lunch session hosted by Chadwell University's Vann Flippen, we considered the everyday dangers that were easier to overlook prior to coronavirus. Your maintenance team's most common tasks like change an HVAC air filter, unclogging a garbage disposal, and repairing a toilet, when you stop to think, are prime opportunities for germs, viruses, and bacteria to be spread to you, your tools, and then to coworkers and other residents.

Using the correct PPE for all of these tasks is a really smart policy. But, if you're not using and storing PPE correctly, is it even effective? If you missed it, watch Vann's Virtual Lunch session below for more about correctly "donning and doffing" PPE.

Segregating and Disinfecting Your Tools"

Vann also shared best practices for keeping your tools clean and virus free as you move from job to job and from unit to unit.

When you pull a tool from your tool box or bag to use it repairing something in a resident's unit, if there has been any contamination within their home (even if, as we have learned from coronavirus, they may be an asymptomatic carrier of something), your tools then have the potential to contaminate other tools they come in contact with and even to spread a dangerous virus to another resident's unit as you continue on your way.

After using a tool, separate it from your "clean" tools in a separate designated bag. These potentially contaminated tools should stay in this secondary bag and should not be returned to your main tool box until you are able to disinfect.

To adequately disinfect the tools you have used:

  1. Wash with soapy water
  2. Rinse with clean water
  3. Sanitize with a germicidal cleaner, spray, or wipes
  4. Allow to air dry 
  5. Dry completely before returning to your tool box.

Lessons Learned from COVID19

As much as we may look forward to putting coronavirus behind us, it is important to think about the lessons we should take away from this experience and our new awareness of such unseen dangers.

If we operate under the assumption that every apartment home may have a virus or contagion, we would take better care of ourselves and, in turn, our residents. Let the lessons of coronavirus motivate better tool and personal hygiene now and long after this crisis has passed.