Cleaning for health: This is the motto that the American Cleaning Institute has pounded out for several decades, practically since its foundation in 1926. This same message is also relayed by the ISSA and its GBAC division, which constantly reminds us of the importance of forensic cleaning (diligent and thorough cleaning followed by disinfection) to guarantee safe environments for any establishment’s occupants.
Not only has this year’s pandemic allowed them to get their message across, but it also serves as the ultimate argument to convince anyone of the importance of cleaning and disinfecting public spaces to curb the spread of infectious diseases and ensure the public’s health.
Recently, we are noticing a growing interest among building managers to add additional resources to their building maintenance department and to consider maintenance operations as part of the overall company’s management. Managers are being bombarded by sales representatives from various companies who offer them a multitude of disinfecting solutions. Several innovations are appearing on the market and it is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate through them. The cleaning industry is in turmoil.
Action is better than reaction
There is a big difference between an action and a reaction. The former implies a reflective and analytical approach to make the decisions that will allow the achievement of an objective. A reaction refers to a response to someone else’s action or to external stimuli, like a pandemic. To maintain control and implement good, profitable, and sustainable practices, it is imperative to act rather than react!
Currently, the urgency of the situation is compelling people to react. Everyone wants to do better and do it faster than their neighbour or competitor. People want to improve current cleaning practices by adding a disinfection step to cleaning tasks, increasing cleaning-disinfection frequencies, opting for better-performing chemical products, changing the tools, investing in sophisticated disinfection equipment (misters, sprayers, foggers), or calling on professional cleaning teams, to name just a few examples.
If we consider that this rise in user expectations now defines the new standard of cleanliness, how many facilities will be able to maintain this work pace and level of cleanliness daily? This new reality involves a fair number of constraints.
- Office buildings are deserted, but cleaning crews must be kept on-site to ensure cleanliness. Worse, in some cases, more work is required.
- Work practices or tools are being modified, but the staff is not always trained accordingly.
- If, initially, the staff does not follow good work practices and is asked to do more, they could further contaminate surfaces rather than clean up and disinfect.
- In some cases, cleaning frequencies are being systematically added to attendants’ work routes (and quickly billed extra) even though the client was already paying for tasks that were never performed. It can become difficult to keep track.
Take the right actions
- There is no point in increasing frequencies of poor practices. The first step is to validate the techniques and products used.
- Analyze your operating costs, make sure you pay for a rendered service and not just an invoice.
- Think about offering training adapted to your cleaning teams. Their role has always been significant, but now that it has been brought to light, they need to understand the scope of their actions and the reasons for changes in practices, if applicable.
- Before adding additional tasks, validate those already defined.
- The decrease in traffic in your buildings or the change in your employees’ work habits towards teleworking must be considered in your action plan.
- Electrostatic sprayers and other sophisticated disinfection devices are not suitable for all environments. They often require the use of a specific chemical that may not be appropriate for the surface you are disinfecting. Seek third party advice.
- IT solutions and biotechnology are at our service, you need to do some research and find the right tools.
A new reality calls for different priorities
Many of these new cleaning and disinfecting protocols, as well as health and safety practices, will need to be adopted over a long-term period. The virulence of SARS-CoV2 and its major global impact has affected us all. We were suddenly confronted with our cohabitation with germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Henceforth, we are aware that we are contributing to the spread of infectious diseases that can generate further epidemics or pandemics. Fortunately, we now know a little more about what to do to limit the spread of disease and we have more resources to deal with it. We are much less vulnerable because today we understand the importance of cleaning for health.
Building HM is a Canadian consulting firm that guides, supports, and advises its clients on ways to optimize the operational performance of their organizations in terms of building hygiene and sanitation. For more information, or to benefit from experts’ services, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit https://www.buildinghm.com/ or call Derek Oliveira at 514.316.6723.