As businesses begin reopening after COVID-19, the focus on in-house cleaning programs will increase exponentially in the effort to keep employees and visitors healthy and safe. New expectations around how facilities are managed and maintained, including the introduction of technology to gauge compliance with programs, will not only result in increased standards of cleaning but the ability to measure and monitor effectiveness.
It’s an all-too-familiar challenge. As essential links in Canada’s grocery, safety, cleaning, and hygiene supply chain, companies like Bunzl Canada play an important role in safeguarding the health and wellness of the nation’s warehouse teams and drivers. In the face of COVID-19, many national distributors have had to act fast to protect their employees and customers.
Raising the bar
For Bunzl, the first step was to provide all frontline employees, whether workers in offices and warehouses or the drivers of the company’s delivery fleet, with workspace hygiene kits so that the cleanliness of individual workspaces could be enhanced immediately. Kits included cleaning products, hand sanitizers, gloves, masks, and other personal hygiene items.
Additionally, cleaning programs in the company’s warehouses and delivery fleet were re-evaluated and enhanced for infection prevention and control to include cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting processes. The new cleaning program included a 7-point protocol to ensure that high-touch surfaces like door handles, restroom fixtures, warehouse lift and scanning equipment, computers, and common areas such as break rooms were not only cleaned but also disinfected.
Bunzl customized both its protocols and employee training to the varying needs of each of its facilities, including:
- Specifically selected products designed to clean and disinfect the different surfaces, equipment, and vehicles in each facility
- Instructions on how to use the products provided, such as ensuring that the manufacturer’s recommended dwell time is adhered to, as well as training on specialized equipment
- Proper cleaning (biofilm removal) and disinfecting techniques for various surfaces, materials, and the interior of vehicles
- A facility schedule including locations, cleaning frequency, and type
- Information on the required proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to correctly use each item
- Ongoing verification
New techniques and technology
Advanced disinfecting and compliance technologies also support the program. Used after deep cleaning, electrostatic disinfecting technology plays a key role in preventing the spread of disease and will be used in Bunzl’s facilities in the event of an outbreak. The advantage of electrostatic disinfectant application is not only its unique ability to disinfect intricate, hard-to-reach areas (such as between the keys on keyboards, and around the sides and backs of objects) but also the speed at which large areas are disinfected. Also, there’s no down time after application, allowing teams to immediately and safely re-enter treated spaces.
Verification and validation
Consistency is critical to the effectiveness of any cleaning program. Where most organizations struggle is in understanding how to verify and validate compliance with cleaning and hygiene protocols, and determining what mechanism to use to measure improvements.
Bunzl addressed this with WandaMOBILE, a digital management system for the company’s in-house cleaning program. Accessible from any mobile device, it contains the specific cleaning protocols for each of Bunzl’s facilities, including tasks and frequencies, and it enables staff to enter activities as they are completed. Managers can then quickly and conveniently view compliance dashboards, verifying that these essential activities are taking place to keep the facilities healthy and safe. The system focuses cleaning efforts, improves effectiveness, and promotes compliance – particularly helpful in environments such as warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centres where, historically, less attention may have been placed on facility cleaning and hygiene than in a typical office or retail facility.
The program has been highly successful, according to Bunzl’s senior director of operations, Tim McKinnon. “We began this initiative in our Mississauga, Ontario facility,” McKinnon said. “The first month was a learning curve – as expected, it took our team some time to get used to a new way of doing things. But by week four we had our cleaning program running so well, our compliance rose to over 100 per cent, and the feedback from our management team and employees was really positive. Now we’ve begun a phased rollout, beginning with our five largest distribution centres across the country.”
John Howlett, president of Bunzl Canada, said WandaMOBILE will be implemented in all of the company’s office and warehouse locations across Canada by the end of the year. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage or improve it,” he noted. “The health and wellbeing of our employees and customers is our top priority and foremost concern. Digitally managing and monitoring cleaning program compliance enables us to maintain a cleaner, healthier, and more hygienic work environment for our employees, and gives our customers confidence when our vehicles arrive with their critical operating supplies.”
David L. Smith is director of cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation at Bunzl Canada, which provides cleaning and hygiene, safety and industrial equipment and supplies to over 45,000 Canadian businesses. With more than 25 years’ experience in cleaning and hygiene, David is a recognized expert in infection prevention and control, and a product expert in digital cleaning program management and electrostatic disinfecting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-449-2146.