At both the World Sweeping Association (WSA) and WorldSweeper.com we strive to continually provide information that informs our U.S. and worldwide power sweeping industry readership. This COVID-19 Industry Update is being provided, and will be kept current, in that spirit.
-- Ranger Kidwell-Ross, M.A.
Director, World Sweeping Association
We recommend that the power sweeping industry should be mobilized to sanitize and clean parking lots on a nightly basis due to widespread discards of masks, gloves and other potentially infected debris at retail outlets.
Street sweepers high-pressure washdown systems should also be utilized to clean and sanitize off-road pavement quickly/easily.
DOL Links RE: Employee and Job-Protected Leave Issues
Suggestions For All in Power Sweeping
No matter your industry involvement, you owe it to your employees to do your utmost to keep them – as well as those they come into contact with – safe from infection.
Get educated about the BMPs. It can make all the difference!
- Make sure everyone in your organization is aware of the CDC's list of best practices. You will find those updated on an ongoing basis at the CDC website.
- Want to go a step further and have your employees test (and increase) their knowledge about COVID-19? Vivid Learning Systems has developed a FREE interactive online course designed to test one's knowledge of the virus with practice exercises while learning about at-risk populations, illness transmission types and symptoms.
- Here is a link to a website that is constantly updating the spread of COVID-19 state-by-state in the U.S. as well as throughout the world. This one does the same but also offers the option to include the name of someone you might know in a given location.
- This 'model letter' in Word format contains a variety of recommendations about how to best keep COVID-19 from spreading in the workplace. Provided by the XPert HR organization, the letter has been designed so it may be modified to fit your situation.
- Evaluate which jobs your workforce should continue to perform. These should only be activities that enhance public safety and/or help curb the spread of the virus.
- COVID-19 particles have been shown to live on dust particles up to three hours. That makes it vital that sweeping is not done where dust is produced around people on the ground, as well as you need to make sure your operators don't breath sweeper-produced dust!
- If any part of your workforce will be involved in sanitizing and/or other virus mitigation, note that the EPA has developed a 'list of Registered Disinfectants' suggested for use to combat COVID-19.
- To help you do a great job of cleaning your rolling stock, Equipment World provides best practices information on that topic from a top U.S. expert.
- VIVID Learning Systems has linked the Material Safety Data Sheets on many of the above; i.e., those the company has in its catalog.
- Use the Department of Labor links at the start of this page to keep track of what programs become available as a result of emerging legislation for keeping furloughed employees on your payroll, as well as any other applicable new laws.
- Federal Signal Corporation has launched a website dedicated to cleaning and sanitizing efforts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Victory Sweepers has provided a brief handout of suggestions regarding sweeper cleanliness.
- Reports from physicians in Washington State indicate transmission via gas pumps is high. When pumping fuel, be sure to wear gloves, use a paper towel, etc.
- Testing in Iceland, and elsewhere, indicates people can be carriers for 48 hours prior to showing any symptoms. For that reason, mask wearing by all are now being considered as a best practice.
- Because Washington State was affected earlier than most others in the U.S., and the response has been very well coordinated, you may want to take a look at the updated Washington Department of Health Guidelines.
- Latest reports indicate those who have been infected may lose their sense of smell and taste several days before other symptoms emerge. Advice is for anyone losing these senses should be quarantined for seven days even if they have no other symptoms.
- There is now widespread reporting that people with no symptoms of COVID can transmit the virus to others.
- If you have a stockpile of vinyl gloves and/or face masks, contact your local health providers to see if they need them donated to help keep health care professionals – as well as your sick neighbors – safe.
- In an area where disposable gloves are not available, a contractor suggested getting boxes of 'doggie poop bags' for putting onto hands prior to using gas pumps, etc.
- Physicians in Shanghai, China, recommend oral vitamin C for prevention of COVID-19 infection, as well as intravenous vitamin C in large dosages once infected. Just saying...
- Again: Practice Social Distancing and wash your hands; Wash Your Hands, WASH YOUR HANDS!
Sweeping Contractor-Specific Suggestions
- Power sweeping, although not listed by name, is considered to be an "essential business" in all places where all but those types of businesses have been banned. If you have any difficulty being considered essential in your state, send us an email and we'll be glad to assist.
We offer a PDF file showing the official government policy and guidance. We suggest you print out at least the most pertinent portions of it and place them into each of your vehicles.
Especially if you will be continuing to operate as an essential service provider, it is very important that you consider the best interests of both your clients and your employees in deciding what services to provide, as well as how best to do so.
If you normally have a second employee in your parking lot sweepers on a route, we suggest they travel separately in their own car. According to the CDC representative we spoke to, it is imperative that all blower operators wear a mask. Also do not sweep near enough to pedestrians such that they will be forced to breathe dust from the sweeper.
- Because your total clientele include virtually every retail property in America, consider that you are uniquely positioned to provide needed services. If you have the workforce for it, we suggest you contact your clients to find out what type of services they need that your workers may be able to perform or that you can arrange for them through other providers.
- You may want to send your clients an email notice that you are an exempted, 'essential service provider' business, and outline the level of operation you plan to continue. We also suggest that you put a written notice into your vehicles that shows your status. Other exempted business locations will continue to generate parking lot debris, as an example.
- Tell your clients to keep you apprised about their sweeping needs and let them know you are willing to work with them to meet their evolving service requirements. You may want to include this link to an article entitled "How Retailers Can Prepare for Disruption From COVID-19."
Also, Chain Store Age (CSA) is offering a list of temporary store closures that have been announced in the U.S. In addition, CSA is pledging to keep current its ongoing coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on the retail industry. That link is located here. CSA asserts that both will be updated as time goes on. All of the above are items for you to consider passing along to your retail clientele.
- If you normally assign two employees to a sweeping route, we suggest you have the second employee ride in a separate vehicle, perhaps their personal vehicle, with you paying for mileage (current federal rate is 57.5 cents per mile).
- Consider contacting your leaseholder companies, landlord, etc. to see if they will allow you to skip one or more payments during the crisis. You might also contact your lender(s) to see what bridge financing and/or working capital sources may be made available to your company.
- The ForConstructionPros.com website is offering comprehensive step-by-step guides for COVID-19 employer tax credits and disaster loans from the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Suggestions For Street Sweeping Organizations
The APWA has developed a "Coronavirus and the Public Works Community" resource webpage, with info and links broken down into three categories: Resources, News, and Share Your Experience.
As you evaluate whether or not to continue to sweep your streets, consider the following:
- A number of cities have suspended vehicle removal programs during sweeping hours due to the workforce cutback that has vastly increased the number of people at home. This is a sensible relaxation of rules to follow.
- There may well be residential areas with so many parked vehicles that sweeping in them should be entirely suspended. Evaluate whether to continue sweeping on a route-by-route basis.
- Since downtown traffic will be far less than normal, consider what other routes may be substituted due to lack of congestion, as well as consider if sweeping an area normally not included in your schedule might enhance your community's health and safety benefits.
- Remember: If you have a stockpile of masks and/or vinyl gloves that are more than you need, healthcare workers in your area may have a dire need for them. If you may have extra to spare, please check with your local hospital to see if they're needed.
Ranger Kidwell-Ross, M.A.
Executive Director, World Sweeping Association