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How to Avoid Wasting Money when Becoming Covid-19 Secure

Firstly, what are my accreditations and experiences that enable me to advise anyone on Covid-19 risk and management?

My career has been 26 years serving in the British Military, during that time I was a chemical, biological and nuclear warfare instructor. Although the coronavirus pandemic is not exactly being in a war zone, there are certainly some elements of risk and control that are comparable and transferable between the two!

I also have nearly 10 years Health and Safety industry experience upon leaving the military, which has given me an insight to how many businesses and industries operate and their procedures, therefore allowing me to advise and implement the control measures to specific industries and premises.

In this Blog, I want to cover some myths and fallacies and show over the last few weeks how we have saved companies/sites/individuals thousands in wasted control measures that are either useless or not needed.  

First off, what is the virus and how does it die? Coronavirus has an outer wrapping or envelope. This envelope comes from the infected cell, or host, in a process called "budding off." During the budding process, newly formed virus particles become "enveloped" or wrapped in an outer coat that is made from a small piece of the cell's plasma membrane.

To simplify, I like to compare it to frog spawn -

The virus is the little black thing in the center. In order to neutralise the virus you must expose the center to the environment or wash it off the surface it sits on. This is why hand washing with soap and water alone is best, it’s slippery and simply washes it away down the plug (it will be neutralised during the water treatment process). 

How to neutralise the virus (little black thing) -

By breaking down the envelope you will expose the virus to the elements and it will die. Just like frogs spawn, if left out of water and in the sun. 

Ways to neutralise -

  • Allow the envelope to dry out naturally by leaving it for a minimum of 3 days depending on what surface it sits on and the heat in the environment.

  • Cover the envelope in a disinfectant and leave it to break down the envelope, similar to washing up liquid with grease when you “leave it to soak”. 

  • Following the recommended “Soak” time, depending on type of product and manufacturer recommended soak time. Followed by wiping with a disinfectant cloth. 

  • A mist type spray is best to be used to apply the virucide neutralizing product. This is best left to dry naturally if possible. 

Myths -

  • Antibacterial kills the virus.... Antibacterial wipes do not kill viruses, they kill bacteria only. If you use anti bacterial wipes or spray on an area, you have a good chance of spreading the virus across other surfaces. Waste of time and money.

  • Hand sanitiser kills the virus… Hand sanitisers without a minimum of 70% alcohol are only to make your hands smell nice. These sanitisers do not instantly kill any Coronavirus. The idea is the alcohol dries out the envelope and exposes the virus and it dies. The hand sanitisers are mainly to be used as an after action following hand washing. More of a belt and braces. Better than nothing, but not totally effective as a stand alone killer. Waste of time and money.

  • Face masks will protect you from the virus… Face masks don't protect against you catching Coronavirus. The mask is to protect others against you from expressing your respiratory moisture into the air and then others breathing in that moisture. The face mask must cover your mouth and nose otherwise...  Waste of money.

  • Gloves will protect you... The wearing of gloves can also lead to false confidence and decrease good hand hygiene. You need to ensure regular washing of hands, not touch your face and keep surfaces clean. Otherwise gloves are……. You guessed it, a waste of money.

So after reading the above, you may be thinking… so what on earth will protect me/ stop the virus from spreading? The truth is Health and safety is about managing risk, the only way to completely eliminate the risk would be for us to all self isolate and not come into contact with anyone at all… many people have had a taste of this with lockdown (apart from the key workers). Although effective, it is not feasible and we do need to slowly get back to some normality, this is where the Hierarchy of Control comes in.

The HSE guidelines are set out as preventative measures that should be carried out to reduce the risk to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

Some ideas where we have saved clients from wasting money on incorrect product, ineffective application of cleaning product and ways to enforce social distancing -

  • A screen is required in some areas, for example a supermarket, as you cannot eliminate the close contact. However making a whole bar in a restaurant/bar/takeaway like a fish tank is unnecessary, one contact point to order and pay with a screen is sufficient and even then the person serving can step back when the customer comes forward to pay to increase the distance. Then leave the drink or food for collection at the other end of the bar whilst the customer stands 2m away, the server can then go back to the serving point and the customer can collect their drink or food once the server has moved away. This reduces the quantity from the whole bar worth of screens to 1m, therefore reducing the cost.

  • In a gym environment, where running and rowing machines are placed close together. Normally these gyms have a dance/fitness studio that currently can’t be used. Most gyms are placing screens between their machines or placing every other machine out of order. Move some of the machines into the currently not used studio ensuring that they are the current social distancing guidelines apart. 

  • In a restaurant environment. Place a small table the correct distance away from the customers table (there will be spare because not all can be used). Place the food on the spare table and the customer collects once the waiter has left. Also, the same waiter tends the same table for the whole time of service and wears gloves while handling crockery and glasses. 

  • If wishing to conduct fitness classes, that are normally carried out in a studio or a village hall. Carry out the lesson outside in groups of no more than 6 (at time of writing) while still being able to carry out your business. Making sure all attend, bring their own equipment and drinks. 

  • Where possible, have people carry out their activity back to back so their respiratory moisture goes in the opposite direction. 

  • According to the CDC, there is no evidence to suggest that Coronavirus spreads between people through the water in swimming pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. If these facilities disinfect their water with chlorine or bromine, this should inactivate the virus. If you can enter the building without touching any surface (doors propped open, arrive ready to swim and not use the facilities) then there is no reason to completely stop swimming. Observe social distancing in the pool at all times.

  • Last one. A carpet cleaner who cleans commercial and residential properties. Only cleans when the premises are empty and wears gloves while doing so. Therefore can carry on operating safely. 


Although the above suggestions may sound simple when you read them, there is a great saying that may apply in an employer's workplace “You cant see the wood for the trees”.  There is nothing wrong with having an outside eye look over what your plans are for returning back to work. 

At Elite Force Safety, we have spoken to and given free advice out to over 50 predominantly local businesses and even visited sites at our cost and still given our time to assist those who need help. Not every small to medium business owner has access to a professional who can advise, but they want to do the right thing. Health and Safety companies can carry out Covid - 19 Risk Assessments (us included). Truth is, employers can do these themselves, there is some great information and guidance on the HSE website.  All they may need is just some gentle guidance on how  to implement the guidelines to their business or premises, and we can help you with that.

Stay Safe

Harold - Elite Force Safety

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