The past month has been marked by almost inconceivable challenges for our nation and our world. COVID-19 – which as of this writing has infected over 1.2 million people globally, resulting in 69,555 deaths – has forced families, employees, companies and entire industries to make sweeping changes in their daily lives. From social distancing to working from home, wearing face masks in public to closing "non-essential" businesses, these proactive efforts are designed to keep people as safe as humanly possible so we can overcome this together, even though we may be doing so at least six feet apart.
"Keeping equipment fully sanitized can help flatten the curve."
Like all storms in life, the coronavirus too will pass, and the cloudy skies of uncertainty will give way to the sunshine of normalcy. In the meantime, the contagion is helping put things into perspective and get back to the basics. This includes the financial services industry, as branches, community banks and credit unions are ramping up their efforts to keep equipment fully sanitized in an effort to minimize the spread of germs and "flatten the curve."
Virus lingers on surfaces and in the air
Given the wall-to-wall coverage COVID-19 has received – and rightly so – one would think we know everything we need to know about the pandemic. But as everyone who's been paying attention can attest, many aspects of the virus remain unclear. One thing that's certain is the disease's contagiousness, spreadable through the air as well as surfaces. In fact, according to a recent correspondence that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the remnants of coronavirus can remain on plastic and stainless steel surfaces up to 72 hours after being handled, touched or grasped by an infected person.
For these reasons and more, it's important to keep all high-touch surfaces fully clean, both for the well-being of your customers and your staff. At the same time, however, you don't want to use cleansers or agents that are too harsh, as it could ultimately damage or ruin the equipment that is central to your branch's needs as well as those of your clientele.
Here are a few do's and don'ts pertaining to surface and equipment hygiene. They're fairly straightforward, so you shouldn't have any problems with implementation:
Use a microfiber cloth: Microfiber cloths are great for a few reasons. Perhaps the biggest one of all is they won't cause scratching. You'd be surprised how easily you can scratch surfaces, as fine particles that are virtually undetectable to the naked eye can leave behind unsightly swirl marks and scarring.
Customize the cleaning solution for the equipment at hand: It is critical that you clean and disinfect to tackle germs, but avoid damaging the appearance or functionality of your equipment. For ATMs and other customer facing automation technology, solutions with 70% isopropyl alcohol are recommended by manufacturers. For disinfecting bullet resistant panels, Total Security Solutions has issued a reminder to use only approved cleaners or disinfectants. They note that soap and water, hydrogen peroxide and diluted isopropyl alcohol-based sanitizers generally work best, but product information should be checked first as a precaution.
Different rules apply to physical security equipment like undercounter steel, safe deposit boxes, safes and vaults. Touchpoints like handles and combination locks are often either painted or chrome and can therefore be safely wiped down with a water-based disinfectant or a 70% Isopropyl Alcohol solution. The body of this equipment should be untouched but for cleaning, BranchServ uses Bank Glow; a stainless steel cleaner and metal polisher, and avoids anything water-based as it can create rust and/or discoloration when applied to steel.
Keep frequently used equipment in "on" mode: Powering down ATMs or cash recyclers with every cleaning isn't necessary and can ultimately lead to delays for your customers as well as your staff.
Power down rarely used machinery: The idea here is to reduce points of contact and contamination. Turning off and unplugging equipment that doesn't get much use will help do just that – and can also help lower your electricity bill.
Consult instruction manuals for interior cleaning steps: Dust and dirt can get inside equipment over time. Check the manual to see when (or if) you should open them and what disinfecting solutions work best.
Spray cleaners directly on equipment: This may be fine to do for mirrors, windows or countertops, but the sudden wetness from cleansers can cause performance issues for service terminals, like ATMs. Instead, apply the spray to the cloth and then clean.
Use abrasive cleaning materials: Powders, scrub brushes and scouring pads should be left for dishes and silverware. Using these in your branch may cause scarring and scratching.
Soak electronic equipment: This is in line with the first "don't," as drenching equipment with a cleanser may prevent certain buttons or keypads from working.
Select hydroxide-based disinfectants for tackling bullet-resistant panels: Hydroxides, ethyl ammonium chloride, ethylenediamine and hypochlorite are all hard to say, but they're even harder on polycarbonate sheets because they can cause cracking. Steer clear of these and opt for soap and water or diluted isopropyl alcohol-based sanitizer for disinfecting purposes.
We know how hard these past few weeks have been. Together, though, we'll get through it. It's our mission to make this ordeal easier for our customers. If there's anything we can do, please don't hesitate to let us know. We're with you for the long run, especially in challenging times like these. Contact us today and put our commitment to the test.