Faces of YWG: Airport cleaning staff helping to protect community from COVID-19

Already an integral part of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, those who make up the facility’s cleaning crew are even more important during a global pandemic.

Before the first positive case of COVID-19 was announced in Manitoba, the airport’s janitorial staff had already stepped up its routine sanitization of the 550,000-square-foot terminal to keep everyone travelling through, working at or visiting the building safe. To them, the fight against the virus was almost personal.

“They don’t look at this as a job,” said Sherry Moulden, Manager of Custodial Services. “It’s like their home. They want to keep it clean. Our staff really took an interest in the disinfection and keeping on top of those high-touch points.”

Things like elevator buttons, hand rails and the primary inspection kiosks in the customs area, which are cleaned after every international flight. The cleaning team is armed with bottles of oxygenated cleaner and micro-fibre cloths – a key tool as it grabs the virus instead of smearing it like a cotton cloth would.

“Our focus the last month has been to get those areas cleaned especially with how long COVID-19 stays on hard surfaces,” said Moulden. “It really changed the way we were doing our job.”

So did some of the equipment they used. Despite a drastic drop in passenger numbers at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, investments were made to bring in specialized machines to clean more of the terminal quicker. Among the new devices is an electric static disinfectant apparatus.

“When you spray it, it dispels a fine mist,” said Moulden. “The electrical charge allows it to stick onto the surface including the under of a table where it normally wouldn’t reach. It really has added another benefit to what we do as you can do an entire area more efficiently.”

The heightened cleaning of the terminal is all in accordance with guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living as well as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. The staff has modified its cleaning strategy to better target high-traffic areas while still meeting the entire airport’s needs during this critical time.

Each employee is provided with gowns and masks to help keep them protected while doing their job. As part of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport’s safety first culture, they’re also trained on how to properly use and dispose of materials.

“These staff are incredibly dedicated and have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks,” said Kirk Goodlet, Director of Terminal Operations. “We operate our facilities to serve our community. The safety and health of our community, both employees and passengers, is critically important.”

A practice which ensures the entire cleaning staff gets to go home healthy to their family every night.

“They’re really proud to work at the airport,” said Moulden. “I noticed it a lot more when we started to focus on eliminating COVID-19. Our goal is to get this place clean and disinfected for everyone. To bring it to another level.”

This increased degree of safety is not only helping to protect those who pass through or work at the airport but the entire community as well. For that, we thank them. 

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