Employers must raise the bar on providing clean air or risk facing resistance on a return to the office, a sanitisation expert has warned.
Office and retail businesses across Ireland now have an increased duty of care to provide a healthy environment as the Covid vaccine rollout fuels a partial end to remote working.
“After 15 months of hand hygiene and social distancing, people’s safety expectations have grown, so there is a major onus on firms and schools to provide clean air for staff, customers and students,” said David Byrne, Managing Director of Dublin-based firm, Sanity System.
“As most buildings are not built with sanitisation in mind, business owners will have to take responsibility for the air inside their premises, and demonstrate their commitment to true cleanliness.
“A cleaner simply dusting or vacuuming a school, shop or restaurant doesn’t cut it any more, and employees and consumers are likely to vote with their feet if they do not feel safe.”
A week after the return of all retail, enquiries into the firm’s Covid-eliminating ozone machines have soared by over 200%.
The spike in demand is driven by small and medium enterprises and comes after research by employers’ group IBEC showed more than three quarters of businesses plan to return employees to their workplaces by August.
Sanity System distribute their machines worldwide from Dublin with significant sales in markets across Europe, along with Dubai and Japan.
The ‘plug and play’ licensed machines operate by using ozone gas to purify the air and surfaces of workplaces or vehicles – meaning glass, carpets, walls and other areas are safely cleaned.
The procedure then reverses itself to remove any remaining ozone so the room, office, site or vehicle can be used as soon as the process finishes.
In Ireland, they are used by Gardai and the National Ambulance Service as well as in a multitude of business settings.
Hundreds of enquiries have also come in from hotels, bars and restaurants ahead of the re-opening of hospitality later this summer.
“Typically, in any closed environment there is a bacterial load that builds up during the day, once we insert the system and allow it to work, it reduces it to zero. It just sits in a room, there is no labour involved,” said Mr Byrne.
“People running businesses and schools have a choice – they can either maintain the hygiene standards they had pre-Covid or raise the bar, like so many other sectors have, not only to re-open but to stay open.
“That applies whether you manage an office, school, shop or a children’s play centre; it means people can return to the working and leisure lives they had before, but with a higher degree of confidence.
“While frontline services, and sectors such as the motor industry, have adapted sanitisation as a service over the past year, everyone else is going to have to find solutions to match the increased requirements of their employees and customers.
“Business have told us they are taking a long-term view that Covid, or its variants, will continue well into the future and expectations around clean workplaces have completely changed.”
The machines can be rented at a low monthly cost – or bought outright on the firm’s website, Sanitysystem.ie
Caption: Sanitisation expert David Byrne, MD of Sanity System. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.