Proliferation of unverified companies seeking to make a quick buck out of the Covid-19 outbreak may cost consumers dearly

The outbreak of the coronavirus and the heightened hygienic protocols required to curb further transmission of the pandemic has led to a proliferation of opportunistic cleaning companies using cleaning material that is unsubstantiated and often poses a danger to consumers,” says Takalane Khashane, Managing Director of the Cleaning Division at Servest. The warning by Africa’s […]

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The outbreak of the coronavirus and the heightened hygienic protocols required to curb further transmission of the pandemic has led to a proliferation of opportunistic cleaning companies using cleaning material that is unsubstantiated and often poses a danger to consumers,” says Takalane Khashane, Managing Director of the Cleaning Division at Servest.

The warning by Africa’s leading facilities management company comes hot on the heels of similar alerts made by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) regarding the influx of sub-standard sanitizers on the market.

Khashane warned the public to be wary of some of these companies who are selling and using scientifically unproven equipment and chemicals that does more harm than good.

“We have seen sanitizing or disinfection booths that have been dismissed by scientists, health institutes and governments as unnecessary and potentially harmful. With such criticisms, some manufacturers continue to market these products, insisting that they are an important part of the larger strategy to reduce the spread of the virus,” says Khashane.

She emphasises that consumers and companies eager to comply with health protocols may be tempted to circumvent due diligence processes and outsource their deep cleaning and disinfection to the first cleaning company that comes their way.

“There are limited barriers to entry in the cleaning industry, that’s why we have seen an explosion of mop and bucket operations claiming to offer deep cleaning services that in some instances are not deep cleaning services. However, it is reputable companies that understand the protocols that are required, use best practice and utilize proven equipment and industry acceptable processes,” says Khashane.
She advised companies who wish to outsource deep cleaning services to work only with reputable companies that have a proven track record. Furthermore, she highlighted that it’s important to also use SABS approved products, including hand sanitisers etc. Products that are not manufactured locally have to be re-tested by the SABS, and if they pass the rigors of these tests, they will be labelled with the SABS certification.
Khashane says South Africa can take lessons from countries such as New Zealand, Canada and Singapore, which have been flagged as exemplary owing to the strategic approach to the fight against Covid-19.

“These countries have taken a proactive stance in dealing with the Covid-19 situation and they have not cut corners in cleaning, hygiene and sanitation. They have reviewed their deep cleaning protocols based on recommendations from experts such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health and safety professionals to ensure effective strategies that protect people, especially frontline workers,” says Khashane.

She notes that in South Africa, the bigger players in the cleaning and hygiene environment have the capacity and resources to comply with all the regulations and requirements, when compared with start-up firms that are resource constrained.

“To fight against the pandemic, cleaning companies should learn from what other countries are doing, the products they used and how they have managed to control the pandemic. By cutting corners and outsourcing cleaning services to companies whose reputations cannot be verified, companies will pay a higher price, as they will be exposing their employees to ineffective products that don’t perform as per expectation or, even worse, harmful products that not only pose a danger to their employees, but to the environment as well.

She highlighted that schools especially should be careful which companies they use for deep cleaning and disinfecting of their classrooms and facilities, as some of the chemicals being used by fly-by-night companies can be harmful.

“Caution must be taken in identifying the right service providers, because challenges also present opportunities, and everyone wants a piece of the pie, and not everyone upholds the same ethics,” Khashane concludes.

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