When managing a daily cleaning operation, time is very valuable. Regardless of size, number of buildings or overall cleanable square footage, every cleaning operation has a finite amount of time to get things done. Historically, it has been an uphill battle to ensure building occupants understand this concept. In the pandemic "before times," it was not uncommon for the daily cleaning function to be somewhat invisible and often, grossly misunderstood. Times have definitely changed — schools, universities and now, office buildings are opening back up and there’s renewed vigor and enthusiasm for keeping public spaces healthier and cleaner. The curiosity and interest in how buildings are cleaned daily, and more importantly how to keep them that way, are refreshing topics of conversations that I used to only have with leadership teams and custodial professionals. These conversations are a positive step forward.
With renewed interest comes renewed responsibility to manage cleaning crews with safety and efficiency in mind and to make sure that occupants are safe. It’s only natural that occupants want to help keep their spaces clean. Many times, in an attempt to be helpful, occupants may bring products from home; concoct their own solutions using what’s available in the building; or even go as far as to borrow things from custodial closets that may or may not be harmful to themselves and others. It’s for this reason that I strongly recommend providing disinfecting wipes for building occupants and teaching them about using products effectively and safely in classrooms and workspaces.
In my mind, there are several great benefits to providing disinfecting wipes for building occupants:
- First and foremost, it’s all about efficiency. Most cleaning departments outside of healthcare settings are budgeted to clean in a way that mitigates risk. The assumption of a sterile environment is a heavy, unrealistic expectation for cleaning departments. That being said, you can expect a healthy level of clean from daily cleaning. However, if there is concern over touch points in shared work areas, classrooms in between classes, or even after use of break rooms and break spaces, disinfecting wipes are an efficient and sensible solution.
- Secondly, safety is key! When occupants bring cleaning products from home, they put the entire building at risk from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standpoint. Federal law requires that all potentially hazardous materials, including cleaning products, are documented in the building’s hazardous material inventory and SDSs are on hand, and accessible in the event of an emergency or mishap with product. This is why it’s better for the cleaning department to provide products building occupants can use. Disinfecting wipes are a familiar form that does not require dilution or complicated procedures, making it an easy grab-and-go solution for occupants that you can feel comfortable providing to them.
- Third, disinfecting wipes remove and kill pathogenic microorganisms. While COVID-19 is mainly spread through the air, many other harmful pathogens are not and these can survive on surfaces for extended periods of time. In addition to COVID-19, wipes can be an effective solution against bacteria like Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, viruses like norovirus and influenza, and a wide variety of other commonly spread pathogens that can cause illness.
- Finally — wipes are simple to teach building occupants how to use. While it may be impractical to equip cleaning crews with wipes as their go-to disinfecting tool, wipes may be a perfect solution for occupants. They are easy to teach, they are simple to use and if effectively placed in visible locations throughout facilities, they are easy to spot.
If you’re looking for a simple solution for occupants who want to help by disinfecting their areas, disinfecting wipes are a low cost, low risk solution.
In the summer of 1991, I got my first job working as a part-time janitor at Olympus High School in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. I was 14 years old. Like most folks, I assumed cleaning was easy and anyone could do it — including myself. Little did I know, I was 100% wrong, and it is a lesson that I continue to share to this day.
After nearly 20 years working as a consultant and professional trainer for large-scale cleaning operations, I found that my first day started the same way most custodians’ first days on the job started. I walked into the Head Custodian's office and was assigned a set of keys and told to work hard. That was my training. With an eager "yes, sir," I took my first assignment: deep clean the building housing the Auto Shop. It was the dirtiest building in the entire school for obvious reasons — motor oil, engine dirt, brake dust covered the floors, walls and windows.
I spent my entire first day on top of a scaffold. I cleaned the ceiling and beams with an assortment of chemicals, expertly concocted by my immediate supervisor and a rag that used to be a t-shirt from Foghat's 1976 "Fool for the City" tour. I spent four hours that summer day reaching overhead to scrub whatever I could get. I was sore, exhausted, and covered head-to-toe in dirt and dust by the end, and I learned janitorial work is one of the most physically and mentally challenging jobs a person can do. It is why I have so much passion for my educational and consulting work.
Despite cleaning work being a critical piece of any job in the service industry, we, as a profession, still struggle to teach proper procedures, safe chemical handling and sound ergonomic techniques. This is because there are limited options for most cleaning operations to educate and train their staff. Most training is either generic, designed for too broad of an audience, outdated, or a combination of the three. As a result, most cleaning operations have had to develop their own, which is costly, time-consuming and difficult to maintain. Moreover, a fundamental question remains: At the very minimum, what should a janitor know before starting their job and more importantly, how do we measure and acknowledge comprehension?
Over the past year and a half, I've been working with CloroxPro to help build an essentials course focusing on the critical knowledge needed by any cleaning worker, in any setting, at any stage in their career, whether they are new to the industry or a seasoned veteran. It is called the CloroxPro™ HealthyClean™ Trained Specialist Certificate Course.
When CloroxPro set out to build this program, there were four main criteria:
- Comprehensive enough to provide meaningful information but brief enough to only require one session
- Product agnostic and useful information that is applicable across all markets
- Non-exclusive and available industry-wide
- Best-in-class certificate program with concrete learning outcomes.
The team of stakeholders who developed the course included experienced international instructional designers, leading academics from the facility management and healthcare fields, cleaning workers from building service contractors, and in-house segments. It was one of the very few times in my life where custodians, custodial managers, Ph.Ds, instructional designers, Masters of Public Health and marketing designers came together to collaborate on something extraordinary.
What makes this course so unique? Accreditation. As a testament to the course's overall quality and CloroxPro's leadership in the commercial cleaning industry, the CloroxPro™ HealthyClean™ Trained Specialist Certificate Course is the only industry-wide course accredited by the American National Accreditation Board (ANAB), a wholly owned subsidiary of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It is a historic milestone in the commercial cleaning industry and a first for the cleaning profession.
This means ANSI's ANAB has independently audited and confirmed the course meets the requirements set forth by the ANSI/ASTM Standard Practice for Certificate Programs. For context, it is the same accreditation for federal, state, local, and private food handling certificates, fitness programs, facility management, and several different law enforcement and U.S. Army combat certificate forces.
Why does this matter? Quality. Pulling together an educational course that we feel is strong and will resonate is only one piece of the puzzle. Engaging an authoritative third party to accredit this program to ensure alignment with internationally recognized standards for quality education is what the cleaning profession has needed for a long time. Advancing the craft of cleaning begins with the best-in-class training.
If I would have had a program like this back in 1991, I can only imagine how differently my first day would have gone.
If you have questions or are interested in learning more about the CloroxPro™ HealthyClean Trained™ Specialist Certificate Course, please visit www.CloroxPro.com/healthyclean.