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Transportation disinfection: Why it’s essential during the COVID-19 pandemic

Transport plays an essential role in the economy for moving people and goods. Lockdowns in many countries around the world have resulted in drastic reductions in economic activity and the use of all types of vehicle for work, public transport, aviation, vehicles delivering goods and also private vehicles. As countries implement measures to return-to-normal activities and get their economies moving again, making vehicles and transportation safe is a major priority.

Ensuring the safety of transport hubs and vehicles for drivers, other employees and passengers presents a number of challenges. Many people work in essential services and businesses and rely on public transport to get to work. Everyone has followed isolation measures and has had to change behaviour to reduce the risk of infection. Now people returning to work will be anxious about going back to using public transport or using work vehicles because of the difficulty of maintaining social distancing and the constant risk of infection.

Challenges for businesses

Every kind of business using vehicles will need to protect their staff and passengers from infection. Those transportation businesses that are suffering enormous losses of income from the lockdown will need to implement measures that the public and their staff believe can ensure their safety before numbers travelling will approach normal levels.

Businesses will also have to comply with new regulations that ensure adequate social distancing and hygiene measures are taken to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks from being caused by infected people travelling on public transport.

Transport hubs

The large number of people passing through public transport hubs such as metro/underground stations, bus, tram and train stations, ferry terminals and airports channel many people into confined spaces. They also have to pass through “pinch points” where people access different parts of buildings, go through checks or enter or exit vehicles.

Passengers have to stand or sit close together in concourses, pass through stairways, doorways and checkpoints, and will touch many surfaces to access the different stages of the transport service, including:

  • ticket machines
  • ticket offices
  • escalators
  • handrails
  • door handles
  • washrooms — handles, taps, toilet seat, soap and tissue dispensers
  • shops and restaurants
  • waiting areas and seating
  • queue barriers
  • waste bins

What types of vehicles should be disinfected?

Every type of vehicle carrying or being used by more than one person or carrying goods should be disinfected to break the chain of virus transmission. These include work vehicles (couriers, trucks and vans etc.), buses and trams, underground and overground trains, aircraft and ferries

The many surfaces in vehicles that are touched by drivers, passengers, staff and people loading and unloading goods can be contaminated by touch or by air-to-surface transmission of respiratory particles. Studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can remain viable on different types of surface from a few hours up to three days.

The length of time that particles remain viable on surfaces is enough for other people to be at risk of infection from touching these surfaces, both from travelling in vehicles or from goods transported over relatively short journeys.

There are numerous areas and surfaces where infection can be spread in the different modes of transport.

  • Work vehicles: door handles, steering wheels, dashboard controls, handbrakes, window controls, seats, armrests, flooring
  • Buses and trams: handles, handrails, seats and armrests, windows, tables, luggage racks, waste bins, floor areas, toilets
  • Overground and underground trains: handles, handrails, seats and armrests, windows, tables, luggage racks, waste bins, floor areas, toilets, buffet cars, sleeper cars
  • Aircraft: seats and armrests, window blinds, light switches, air vents, tables, luggage compartments, floor areas, toilets, cabins and crew areas
  • Ferries: handles, handrails, seats and armrests, windows, tables, luggage racks, waste bins, floor areas, toilets, cabins and crew areas, gaming/arcade machines, children’s play areas, restaurants and shopping areas

Disinfection solutions for transport

To reduce the risk of COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting are essential before bringing back facilities and vehicles into use to maintain their safety. Disinfection services have to be carried out by following carefully assessed safety measures to ensure the safety of staff, the general public and the operators using the disinfection equipment.

Disinfectants used have to comply with local regulations and be approved for antiviral use. Specially trained technicians systematically clean all the key touchpoints and surfaces using specialist equipment and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

For disinfecting large areas quickly and for rapid turnaround of vehicles, a fogging machine can be used to apply a mist of disinfectant. The minute droplets quickly settle under, on top of and on the sides of objects and inaccessible areas that may be difficult or not possible to reach using conventional cleaning methods.

Fogging also disinfects textiles on seating, which are more difficult to treat using manual methods. A battery powered fogger enables vehicles such as a bus to be treated in around five minutes, which allows many vehicles to be treated at night, ready for service the following day.

Transport hubs can implement an integrated hygiene programme to target three key areas for preventing transmission of germs.

  1. Surface hygiene: disinfecting common touchpoints using a suitable disinfectant and cleaning solution. Larger areas can be disinfected by fogging to treat hard-to-reach surfaces quickly and effectively.
  2. Hand hygiene solutionsprovide antibacterial soap dispensers, hand-drying solutions and sanitiser dispensers for added protection in the washroom. Hand sanitiser dispensers can also be placed at strategic locations for staff or the public to use.
  3. Air hygiene: air purification devices placed in strategic locations to filter respiratory droplets carrying harmful bacteria and viruses as well as mould spores, allergens and VOCs.

Benefits of transportation disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection are essential measures for decontaminating facilities and vehicles effectively. Professional disinfection services have the techniques, tools and most appropriate products to disinfect large facilities and vehicles for public transport to make them safe and return them to use as quickly as possible.

When completed, you can be sure that cleaning and disinfection have been carried out using approved safety procedures, tools and products that are compliant with safety regulations.

On completion, a report and coronavirus disinfection certificate are provided, which will help you to reassure your staff, customers and visitors that your facilities and vehicles are safe again. Ongoing cleaning and disinfecting regimes will provide further reassurance that facilities managers are maintaining high standards of hygiene on their premises.

COVID-19 disinfection services

Rentokil’s disinfection solutions can help businesses deal with the effects of coronavirus.

  • Protects your business against infectious bacteria, viruses and disease.
  • Targeted disinfection solutions including ULV fogging and touchpoint cleaning.
  • A tailored service delivered in a safe, discreet and legally compliant manner.
Find out more

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