Caretakers deploy new tech in disinfecting efforts

Caretaker uses esprayer to disinfect a conference room table

Brandon Watson//Western NewsWestern caretaker Leah Gee uses an electrostatic sprayer to disinfect commons areas on campus, including fixtures and furnishings. Facilities Management’s Building Services srecently started usuing six new eSprayers to disinfect campus more quickly than with traditional cloth wipes.

Facilities Management’s Building Services team has turned to technology to ramp up the fight against the spread of germs. Using six new electrostatic sprayers (eSprayers), the team is disinfecting campus more quickly than with traditional cloth wipes.

“Now more than ever, the campus community is relying on our staff to clean and sanitize facilities,” says Chris Bumbacco, Director (Building Services). “We are equipping our team with the best and most effective equipment and training possible.”

The eSprayer is an ergonomically designed handheld unit that resembles a sci-fi phaser. An electrode in the nozzle negatively charges the sprayed solution. As surfaces are either neutral or positively charged, the mist of sterilizing liquid adheres on contact. Following a 10-minute dwell time, the surface is dry and disinfected.

The units hold about a litre of solution that covers 2,800 square-feet – the equivalent of about six or seven classrooms, including fixtures and furnishings. A removable and rechargeable battery can be used for up to four hours of continuous use.

“The electrostatic sprayers complement our overall strategy of cleaning for health,” Bumbacco said. “In the past two years, Building Services has narrowed its focused on cross-contamination mitigation and green-cleaning products for healthier buildings.”

According to Bumbacco, cleaning for appearance is deceiving and can result in, what the industry calls, “sick building syndrome.” His team is providing a thorough, deep cleaning of high-touch points that will mitigate infections and respiratory problems. Cleaning for health benefits both the building occupants and the personnel cleaning the facility.

In 2018, Facilities Management consulted with industry specialists to identify areas of opportunity that would enhance caretakers’ ability to clean for health. The team adopted several recommendations, including using microfibre cloths and mop head systems; colour-coding equipment to avoid cross-contamination; and greener cleaning solutions. The team also procured specialized equipment such as backpack vacuums, lightweight cordless scrubbers, and the new electrostatic sprayers.

According to Bumbacco, the tools were originally purchased to sterilize select clinic spaces and areas of the recreation centre. The sprayers have been easily integrated into the team’s arsenal and are filled with the same environmentally friendly disinfectant solution that Building Services has been using for years. In independent testing the solution, ES65H, has proven effective against coronavirus.

“The results of the eSprayer have been positive and our crew is able to cover more space in less time,” Bumbacco said. “With a full reservoir, it’s about six pounds, so it’s easy to carry and can sterilize just about anywhere.”

With six eSprayers in constant operation, Building Services is in the process of ordering 10 more handheld units and two backpack versions. The larger reservoir of the backpack unit means it can be out in the field longer before refilling and will be used to cover larger swathes.

When the campus community gears up to return to work, Bumbacco assures them that his team will meticulously prepare common areas, such as hallways and washrooms. Meeting rooms will also receive special attention with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes supplied.

In residences, caretakers have been thoroughly cleaning and spraying throughout, taking special care to disinfect rooms when students vacate.

“Other than residence rooms, personal spaces are not part our regular schedule,” Bumbacco said. “We urge the campus community to keep their own offices and cubicles clean, as well.”

“There is a #WeAreInThisTogether hashtag being used with related social media posts – that really applies to our shared responsibility to keep campus healthy.”