NSW apartment dwellers urged to take extra care in common areas or risk getting sick amid cleaners being stretched to capacity

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Apartment dwellers need to be extra vigilant in common areas and not touch surfaces given current confusion about strata cleaning issues.

CleaningBody corporates of unit blocks still had no idea which contractors could and couldn’t attend sites for work such as cleaning and that the situation was now ‘critical’ given many cleaners are currently stretched to capacity.

There is still no clarity around the type of cleaning that can be carried out and how much it involves high touchpoints like lift buttons and door handles as well as waste disposal.

It is being left up to the building managers, strata managers, and residents to decide what’s best for their community and do the best they can.

Most of them have absolutely no qualifications to be able to make these health and safety decisions,” she said.

That’s why I advise when entering common areas to touch as few surfaces as possible, wear masks, and move quickly given many dwellers would not be aware of how frequently or thoroughly their common area would be cleaned.

For larger apartment dwelling blocks a deep clean may be occurring once a week, but in smaller unit blocks cleaning may only be taking place once every two weeks.

Diego Canavero, director of operations of Sydney cleaning and facilities management company Havencab Property Group said the workload for cleaners had significantly increased due to COVID-19.

“It’s crazy that cleaners are not on the authorised workers’ list in NSW.

If cleaning staff are locked down in certain areas that means other staff not in lockdown areas become stretched beyond capacity to clean double the number of blocks to cover for them.

They are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

Most of the population is working from home, so there is significantly greater waste and recycling generated.

The residents are also leaving their apartments to exercise, shop for essentials, and get fresh air several times a day, therefore using common areas and elevators more frequently.

There has also been an increase in home deliveries, which has increased the use of common areas and elevator use.

As a result, it is crucial for cleaning contractors to amend their current scope of cleaning and increase high touch point areas.

Elevator DesinfectionThese include elevator buttons, door handles, push and pull plates, (pretty much any surfaces that people may touch more frequently).

The usual allocation of cleaning time for pools, gyms and recreational facilities in strata buildings should be reallocated to high touch point areas.”

Mr. Canavero said his cleaners were now disinfecting surfaces much more thoroughly than usual.

This process if done properly takes significantly more time and costs a lot more than conventional routine cleaning.

Unless you disinfect all touchpoints properly, the transmission of the virus can spread rapidly.”

That’s why orders should have been clarified as an urgent priority given how quickly COVID can spread.

The Victorian health orders were clear on this point so I have no idea why they were so vague and left to interpretation in NSW which has the highest number of apartment dwellers in the country.”

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About

Amanda is a strata lawyer with over 17 years’ experience advising owners, communities, managers and developers. Amanda is the owner of Lawyers Chambers, a boutique legal practice in Sydney, focussed entirely on strata and community title law. Since 2016, Amanda has hosted the Your Strata Property podcast, dedicated to demystifying the legal complexities of apartment living.


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