Some ACWA members have asked for advice on the use of masks and gloves in car wash operation; however, it appears the jury is out on the concept.
On the one hand, we see regular news commentary from overseas about masks. We notice international Governments demanding commuters wear masks when riding on trains and purchasing products from shops and we see others handing out masks in the streets. In some states of the USA, there is even legislation forcing compulsory mask-wearing in public.
On the other hand, in Australia, our health professionals are suggesting most masks provide little benefit in protecting people without the disease. Our officials only recommend masks be worn by COVID-19 victims to stop the spread of the virus.
So should car wash operators have their staff wear personal protective gear like masks and gloves?
Anecdotally it would appear that customers fall into two camps. Some feel more comfortable dealing with and being greeted by service staff wearing a mask. And others prefer to see a smiling face during the Coronavirus’ dreary lockdown environment. (Of course, that smiling face should be seen from a distance of at least 1.5 metres!!!). There does not appear to be a right or wrong, and each car wash site will need to tread its own path.
Gloves appear to be a critical addition to the customer’s perception of hygiene, so from that standpoint, car wash sites might consider adding gloves to their staff livery. From a staff protection perspective, however, gloves really don’t provide any more protection than hand washing. That is, if you touch something contaminated while wearing gloves and then touch your mouth or eyes, you have the same chance of contracting the disease as if you had bare hands.
Similarly, the transmission of the virus from one surface to another (for example, one customer’s car to another) appears the same whether bare handed or gloved. The critical thing to remember if you elect to have your staff wear gloves, they need to be provided with safety instructions.
To afford customer protection, gloves need to be changed after each wash. To provide staff protection, they must be reminded not to touch their face, whether they are wearing gloves or not.
The Government Health Authority focus in Australia is well and truly on social distancing rather than masks or gloves as the best means of protecting everyone. With this in mind, car wash operators might consider initiating the following 10 points in their businesses:
- Have plenty of signage about your site’s commitment to social distancing
- Enforce social distancing amongst customers
- Don’t allow staff or the public to assemble
- Place lines or markings on the ground in situations where customers may need to queue or come into contact with others
- Instruct staff about hygiene – handwashing with soap is the best defence, supported by not touching one’s face
- Providing wash stations for using soap and water is often impractical so, have plenty of hand sanitiser available for staff and the public
- Staff should wash or sanitise their hands or change gloves after each internal clean
- Staff should wash or sanitise hands regularly if handling money or equipment
- Make sure equipment is disinfected as often as possible
- Staff displaying any cold-like symptoms should not be at work