As new COVID-19 infections continue to decrease and our capability to trace, track and test potential infections increases; our government has published guidelines to allow safe COVID-19 return to play. These guidelines reduce the risk of transmission between people. They also allow for quick tracing of people who have been in contact with an infected person. Part of this process is the development of a COVID19 Return To Play plan for each sporting code that details what specific step each club, venue or team is taking to reduce to spread of the virus.
One of the key parts of an organisations return to work plan is having a documented procedure for how to properly clean equipment that is shared between players, coaches and other staff. This can include balls, training equipment, and other equipment that is necessary for training to occur. Equipment that is not strictly necessary should not be used, and where possible, equipment should not be shared if possible. This includes thing like uniforms, drink bottles, volunteers and official’s equipment such as whistles and staff uniforms. These should be taken home and cleaned by the user, according to manufactures instructions.
|Shared Equipment||Personal Equipment||Communal Facilities|
|Balls||Uniforms||Change rooms (unable to be used at this stage)|
|Padding for goal posts ect.||Whistles||Showers (unable to be used at this stage)|
|Weights and resistance bands||Protective Equipment||Food service, such as café or restaurant (max 20 persons)|
|Medical equipment such as strapping, or emergency, equipment||Record keeping equipment||Toilets|
The process of cleaning shared equipment should be clearly documented in your COVID19 Return To Play plan, and anyone responsible for ensuring equipment is cleaned should have access to all the equipment and information to safely complete the task. It is suggested that organisations have a document that includes the location of all cleaning supplies including PPE, water, and MSDS’ for cleaning products. The document should also include a step by step explanation of how the cleaning should be performed during trainings. This means that the cleaning process is standardized, and everyone has access to all the information they need to consistently keep players and staff safe.
Cleaning equipment should be a combination of separate, but complementary cleaning principals, Cleaning and Disinfecting.
Is the process of removing dirt, germs and organic matter from surfaces. This is done using hot water and a PH-Neutral detergent. This break downs oils and dirt, allowing them to be physically removed from surfaces.
Using a PH-Neutral detergent is important as any chlorine based disinfectants can react with non-PH-Neutral soap and cause damage to the equipment.
Involves the use of a disinfectant agent to destroy or inactivate the virus. It does not physically remove particles, and uses harsher chemicals, but is more effective at preventing infection from the virus. Ethanol or Isopropyl alcohol solutions ≥70%, or bleach made up to ≥1000ppm are considered effective for destroying corona virus and cleaning wipes that make specific anti-viral (not anti-bacterial!) claims.
Warning: Never mix cleaning products. The resulting mixture can be extremely toxic, and produce toxic gasses.
These two processes are used together to clean shared equipment before, during and after training. Using both provides the highest level of cleanliness for equipment, and reduces the risk of transmission. A cleaned surface may not be free from invisible viral particles, and a disinfectant may not be able to destroy all infectious particles on a dirty surface.
It is important to let surfaces dry completely before they are used, as the virus may still be active on wet surfaces, and allowing time to dry means that disinfectants have the most opportunity to soak in and kill viral particles in porous surfaces.
Following hand hygiene principals when cleaning equipment reduces the risk of transmitting an illness from dirty equipment to clean equipment. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water prior to cleaning, disposable gloves should be used while cleaning to protect from potential infection. Gloves also provide protection from harsh cleaning chemicals. Goggles and other PPE may be appropriate when making up cleaning solutions. Refer to manufactures instructions.
The cleaning process for your organisation should be customized to your needs and resources, however below is a generic plan for cleaning shared equipment for a training session.
Johnny is a volunteer with a local AFL club, and has volunteered to assist with training. Prior to the start of training, he fills a bucket with hot water and ph-neutral dish washing detergent. He washes his hands, then gives the footballs a wipe down with a cloth and the detergent, and sets them aside to dry. Once dry, he uses a disinfectant wipe with 70% alcohol to wipe them down, and allows them to dry.
While training is under way, he uses a wipe to disinfect any balls that aren’t in use, and places them in a pile of clean balls. If any of the balls are extremely dirty, or have bodily fluids on them, he also uses hot soapy water to clean them.
After training, he washes his hands once again, cleans the balls with hot soapy water, and gives them a wipe down with disinfectant wipes before putting them away.
For a detailed checklist of a return to play plan see:
For a template to complete and distribute your return to play plan see:
For a complete list of government regulations regarding return to sport, resources to meet regulations, and other information see: