Environmental Health Officers at COP26

Reckitt, as the hygiene partner at COP26 was responsible for providing product and protocols for the hygiene interventions at this huge event, with an area spanning the size of 30 football pitches, and hosting over 26,000 delegates for 14 days. 

A team of 20 scientists from disciplines of virology, microbiology, chemistry, public health and behavioural science agreed the protocols for the event based on Targeted Hygiene principles. This was endorsed by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The process involved examining the journey of delegates through COP26 and determining risk levels dependent upon use, density of crowds in an area and the ability to completely clean between use of a location. For example, some meeting rooms could be cleared and cleaned between being re-occupied, making them a lower risk than areas where there was hot-desking. 

They also recognised that it is not just surface disinfection that matters – hand hygiene was critical. This meant encouraging the use of hand sanitisers and hand washing at basins in the toilets. 

Reckitt contacted the Institute to advertise to the members for some Environmental Health Officers to work with them on site, taking samples after cleaning had taken place to verify that the methods worked. From 24 applicants, 3 were selected (Catriona Cowan, David Gray and Martin Keeley), with two others agreeing to be “back up” in case anyone was not able to work. Reckitt also approached some REHIS Approved Training Centres to deliver the REHIS Elementary Cleaning and Disinfection course to the cleaning staff.  

With COVID in mind, they were conscious that even though the EHOs were fully vaccinated, they may come into contact with those who were ill. EHOs were perfect for the role because their profession means they are practical scientists, who understand about the routes of infection, and the science behind disinfection. 

Reckitt also teamed up with Hygiena, who make ATP monitoring devices. ATP is short for Adenosine Triphosphate, which is the energy packet in cells. It is picked up on a swab, and when an enzyme is released onto the swab, the swab put into the machine, a reading is given from the light that is given off from the ATP. The higher the reading, the dirtier the surface. By practising on many surfaces and working with Hygiena they determined a reasonable threshold level for pass or fail, based on their knowledge of sampling in many different locations.  Reckitt set up a sampling plan based on the protocols to check every type of high touch items in the different locations. This was put onto 6 machines, 3 for the EHOs, and 3 for the cleaning teams. 

Throughout the event, the on-site Reckitt team liaised with the EHOs and cleaning companies to feed back any issues with daily overview data submitted to the government and enforcement officers. 

REHIS is a registered charity in Scotland, SC009406

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