With the topic of reopening schools leading many conversations right now, we’ve had a lot of questions about how teachers and administrators can work with custodial teams to make sure classrooms and common areas to limit the potential for COVID to spread on hard surfaces.*
Whether you work in a school or know a student who will be returning to the classroom this fall, these steps can help teachers keep classrooms clean and safe:
Clean, then disinfect. Kids make messes. And with calls for students to eat lunch in the classroom, those messes will only increase. It’s important to know that in order for a disinfectant to work, you must first clean the surface to remove any foreign substances or barriers and then apply the disinfectant.
Focus on touch points. Little hands are constantly touching, but what are some of the most often touched surfaces within your classroom? Faucet handles, chair backs, keyboards, door handles and desks are all items that should be disinfected throughout the day to limit the opportunity for virus spread.
Follow label instructions. Just like teachers need time after a long day, disinfectants also need time to sit and dwell in order to work effectively. How much time is indicated on the back of the bottle and can range between 2 to 10 minutes.
Launder cleaning cloths regularly. Disposable wipes are hard to find right now, so a lot of teachers will be using donated disinfectant sprays or spray from the custodial team. If using your own cleaning cloths, make sure to use a fresh cloth each day to avoid cross contamination.
Safely store cleaning chemicals. Make sure curious hands don’t find cleaning chemicals and be sure to lock all disinfectant supplies in a secure area.
Clear desks and tables nightly. Stack books, papers and supplies on desks to keep tables and other surfaces clear for custodial teams to disinfect in the evenings. A lot of custodial teams will be working with limited resources, so every little bit helps.
In this episode of Cleaning Conversations, we spoke to Ben Walker, COO of ManageMen about how the pandemic has impacted ManageMen’s training and events, shifts and opportunities he sees for the cleaning industry and the most valuable advice he’s ever received. If you have anything to do with cleaning in a facility beyond your home or are interested in strategies to improve public health, you won’t want to miss this insightful conversation.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Copy-of-Copy-of-Cleaning-Conversations-2.png10001024Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-07-08 17:51:412020-07-08 17:51:44Cleaning Conversations: Ben Walker
Raise your hand if you’ve seen a picture of a heavily suited worker spraying what’s assumed to be disinfectant on sidewalks and streets in the past four months.
It looks something like this:
For cleaning professionals, this image might be somewhat alarming. Mostly because it demonstrates what we already know—that the majority of people throughout the world have limited understanding of the science of cleaning.
Yet, when the general public sees images like this, they assume it’s what’s required to protect them from COVID-19.
This gap in knowledge has led to widespread use (misuse?) of chemical disinfectants. Unnecessary use of cleaning chemicals generates waste, cost and can lead to injury to both the people applying the disinfectants and the individuals in the buildings being cleaned in the wake of the current pandemic.
In short, spraying disinfectant everywhere—throughout schools, daycare centers, offices, hotels and restaurants—is a bad idea.
Let us explain.
A Health & Safety Issue
If it were just a few images circulating that misrepresent what’s truly needed to stop COVID-19 in its tracks, that’d be one thing, but the lack of education around proper disinfection practices is leading to injuries.
One recent report found that at the Adelanto Detention Facility in California, guards were “rampantly spraying [disinfectants]… every 15-30 minutes around housing units. The sprayed chemicals are coming into contact with individuals’ eyes, noses, mouths, skin, clothing, bedding, food and drinking water, on an ongoing basis.”
From headaches and nausea too painful blistering of the skin and swollen eyes, noses and throats, detainees housed in these areas experienced a variety of physical reactions from the misuse of the disinfectants.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In April, the CDC reported that calls to poison control hotlines for cases involving cleaners and disinfectants rose significantly over the previous two years.
“Asthmatics, migraine sufferers, those with allergies or immune disorders or suppressed immune systems may experience symptoms [resulting from disinfectant exposure] such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, mood swings, irritability, headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting,” said Dr. Claudia Miller, an immunologist, allergist and co-author of Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes.
While there’s cause for concern, it’s important to recognize that disinfecting is important when it’s done properly using tested application methods. In pictures such as that shown above, spraying and fogging technology is used. However, emerging research has shown that these methods may not offer the efficacy of more traditional spray and wipe methods. As such, use of these methods should be reconsidered until additional testing is conducted.
“In indoor spaces, routine application of disinfectants to environmental surfaces by spraying or fogging (also known as fumigation or misting) is not recommended for COVID-19… spraying disinfectants can result in risks to the eyes, respiratory or skin irritation and the resulting health effects. Spraying or fogging of certain chemicals, such as formaldehyde, chlorine-based agents or quaternary ammonium compounds, is not recommended due to adverse health effects on workers in facilities where these methods have been utilized.”
Similarly, the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) has also advocated against fogging and misting, in their recent recommendation, “Guidance for Decontamination of the Built Environment: Cleaning, Disinfection, Worker Protection and Post Cleaning and Remediation Assessment.”
Old Problem, Renewed Awareness
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a chemical handling issue on our hands. This post and infographic from a few years ago offers some important data around chemical accidents and injuries to workers. In pre-pandemic days, cleaning workers were experiencing an estimated 83,000 injuries from cleaning chemicals each year. Cleaning chemicals are a regular culprit in poor indoor air quality findings.
But as businesses across the country begin the process of reopening, communication and education around cleaning, cleaning science and cleaning for health is more critical than ever. Science must continue to drive our best practices, which we should regularly benchmark with other organizations and communicate with building owners and occupants. Cleaning workers not only tools to do the job, they need the education, training and personal protective equipment to use those tools effectively.
Here are five important things to remember when disinfecting any space, for COVID-19 or otherwise. Intensive disinfection efforts must be:
1) Conducted only after surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned.
2) Performed by trained staff.
3) Accompanied with the proper personal protective equipment.
4) Conducted in well-ventilated areas.
5) Coupled with other mitigation strategies, such as social distancing and regular hand washing.
If you use a systematic, engineered approach to cleaning like (OS1), there won’t be a need to spray disinfectant everywhere. And remember, effective cleaning contributes to a healthy indoor environment; it doesn’t pose additional health risks.
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“We’re in this together” is a frequent refrain of the past two months. From the pandemic to protests, people share these words to express solidarity and unity throughout the many challenges facing our communities right now.
Within the Simon Institute, (OS1) leaders have been working together throughout the pandemic to share best practices and strategies. However, as federal, state, tribal and local officials in both the public and private sectors move to Opening Up America again, it’s time that we expand our cooperation if we haven’t already.
It goes without saying that we play a critical role in the effort to protect the people who live, work in and visit the buildings we clean. In fact, the U.S. EPA has recently issued a statement emphasizing the need to continue cleaning and disinfection practices to reduce exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
But we can’t do this alone. Through ongoing communication and effective partnerships with key stakeholders, we can work together to keep buildings clean and disinfected. Click here to read the full blog post that identifies who would should be talking to right now and what we should be discussing.
WHAT TO DISCUSS: Organizations want additional cleaning, but many are not adjusting their scope of services and budgets accordingly. Custodial professionals should be prepared to have conversations about the need for additional resources. This includes being able to identify costs associated with additional cleaning products, labor, PPE and training to ensure buildings are cleaned in a way that keeps everyone safe.
WHO:Internal Reopening Teams
Teams might include facility managers, safety directors, human resources, marketing and other key administrative professionals within the organization.
WHAT TO DISCUSS: Make sure your team is involved in helping coordinate efforts as buildings reopen. In these meetings, you’ll want to communicate plans for staffing, cleaning frequencies and any resources you have available through existing supply chain relationships. This might include access to wipes, hand sanitizer and additional cleaning products.
You might also work with marketing and communications to help create communication tools for building occupants.
WHO: Building occupants
WHAT TO DISCUSS: When clearly communicating cleaning programs with building occupants, you not only help build peace of mind, but you can also help improve the effectiveness of cleaning programs.
Topics to address may include:
Any disinfectant/wipes sharing programs to assist in cleaning personal spaces
Highlights of the (OS1) System and approach
Specific high-touch areas located throughout the building
Dust control initiatives, which limit the potential for the virus that causes COVID-19 to remain suspended in the air by attachment
Requests to clean off desks, conference tables and other surfaces in communal areas to improve cleaning effectiveness
WHAT TO DISCUSS: As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid overstocking and plan on two units (or two full orders) of critical inventory for consumables, chemicals, and tools. This includes germicidal cleaner, vacuum filters, and pro-duster sleeves. Distributors in the industry have experienced extreme disruption with shortages of supply. Many of the raw materials that we rely upon in the United States come from China – and since China has been experiencing their own pandemic-related challenges, it’s been hard to get those raw materials. Things that we take for granted – plastice bottles, spray nozzles, even microfiber in some instances are going to have longer lead times for the next few months. Stocking up now, and maintaining a lean, but effective inventory will help your operation reduce its overall impact on supply.
Ongoing communication is critical as we work together to keep our buildings safe and healthy for everyone.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/In-This-Together.png800800Ben Walkerhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngBen Walker2020-06-04 21:14:252020-06-05 14:42:26In This Together: Tips for Coordinating Cleaning as Buildings Reopen
Fact: You will likely take more than 6.6 million breaths inside of a building this year.
So whether that’s at home or work, the home improvement store or gym, the way these indoor environments are maintained will have a major impact on not only your health but also your performance. And now, in the wake of COVID-19, that matters more than ever.
If you’re a professional who has heard us evangelize the cleaning for health message, you know this well. From the Frank Porter Graham study to the Charles Young study, we’ve seen ongoing research the show the benefits of how a cleaning plays a role on the indoor environment, and in these instances, the health and performance of students in schools.
A quick glimpse at this summary shows the critical role that cleaning (specifically, cleaning frequencies) has on indoor air quality.
Though we’ve been talking about a health and evidence-based approach to cleaning for years, this holistic view of building wellness is starting to go mainstream. A slow drip at the start of 2020, this movement is now evolving into a full blown waterfall as organizations look to best navigate their way through the pandemic.
In the recently published book Healthy Buildings, Harvard researchers Joseph Allen and John Macomber take a deep dive into the how’s and why’s of healthy buildings. Written largely for a general business audience, the book makes a financial case for why organizations should invest in healthy buildings. From recruiting better employees to increasing productivity within the building to improving bottom line profits, authors cite both the trends and financial gains of focusing on “healthy buildings.”
When it comes to practice, they outline nine foundations of a healthy building, including: ventilation, air quality, thermal health, moisture, dust and pests, safety and security, water quality, noise and lighting and views.
You’ll find some common strategies for improving indoor air quality (source reduction) and dust (use HEPA filters) but the outline is loose. You might liken it to someone telling you all the reasons for making a cake, but providing very little instruction on how to make it. The way building is cleaned and maintained plays a significant role in the health and lifespan of a building.
This pandemic will force substantial changes on the way we use and clean buildings. Even though we’re just in the early stages of states reopening, we’re already starting to see changes in work from home policies. Some of these changes will be temporary, and others will have lasting impacts.
One thing that won’t change is the need to clean and maintain buildings. If anything, the pandemic has brought this reality to the center stage. But as awareness for healthy buildings grows, so will the “experts” who share best practices for maintaining those environments.
In a recent letter to the editor published in the Detroit Free Press, Pamela Owens-Moore, a mother and grandmother, who has worked as a janitor in Detroit for 33 years, made a plea for organizations to head input from janitors as they develop policies and procedures around cleaning and sanitation as businesses reopen.
“Not only will janitors be the ones responsible for adhering to stricter cleaning and safety standards,” said Owens-Moore, “but we have expertise and ideas to contribute when new protocols are being developed and decided on.”
As we move toward a society that values healthy buildings, make sure that your custodial team has a seat at the table when policies and procedures are developed. It’s great to create lofty goals, but the people who actually do the work, custodial workers, will be able to help your organization achieve those goals.
Cleaning is a key component to maintaining healthy, high-performing buildings. And when custodial teams have a stake in the strategy, everyone will be able to breath a little easier.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Healthy-Buildings-SOCIAL.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-05-28 21:39:242020-05-28 21:39:28Healthy Buildings: What’s Cleaning Got to Do with It?
You know the adage “hindsight is 2020”? I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. Ultimately, the saying speaks to the fact that it’s easy to see what the right thing to do was after an event happens, but difficult to predict the future.
When we get to the other side of this pandemic and are five or 10 years in the future, what will the events of 2020 look like? Will the industry effectively have captured its moment, helping the public understand the critical role that cleaning plays in protecting public health?
When people go back to work, will they start to look at the person cleaning the restroom or mopping their office lobby in the eye and possibly even say “thank you”?
When budgets are cut due to funding shortfalls, will cleaning be one of the last departments to feel the pinch, because there’s an understanding that cleaning is essential to helping stop the spread of deadly viruses?
Forced to show that they’re cleaning and not polluting the indoor environment, will more custodial teams put key performance indicators in place and do a better of measuring their efforts and possibly benchmarking them against other programs as we do in (OS1)?
Will janitors and custodians finally drop off the list of occupations with the most injuries, because there’s greater value for the work they perform and a desire to help people work more safely?
From custodial directors to distributor sales representatives, janitors to equipment salesman—when someone asks what we do for a living, will we proudly recognize our affiliation with the cleaning industry?
Will hindsight truly be 2020?
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/ManageMen-Logo-KeyNoteSM21.png54120Ben Walkerhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngBen Walker2020-05-20 15:39:042020-05-20 15:39:08What an Amazing Time to Be in Our Industry
Keeping academics, students and faculty safe has always been a priority for Brandon Baswell and the custodial team at Michigan State University, but the coronavirus and COVID-19 have definitely impacted the way they clean, train, staff and budget. Brandon shares some excellent insights on what’s happening now, and how they’re planning for the fall, in our second episode of Cleaning Conversations.
“You can’t do ANYTHING if you don’t have a clean and healthy environment.”
Brandon Baswell, Michigan State University
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There’s no shortage of information and news available related to COVID-19 and steps individuals can take to reduce its spread through actions like hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.
As businesses begin to reopen, we will be talking to the cleaning teams who have been on the frontlines throughout the early weeks of the pandemic. What challenges have they faced and how are they changing their approaches to accommodate both teams and their clients?
Our friends Nancy Albin and Guido Piccarolo from Los Angeles Habilitation House discuss how the (OS1) System prepared them for the current pandemic and the changing perception of the importance of cleaning in maintaining the health of people in a building.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Cleaning-Conversations.png10801080Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-04-30 19:58:012020-04-30 19:58:05From the Frontlines: Los Angeles Habilitation House Talks (OS1) and Cleaning for COVID-19
We’re at the starting line of one of the most important races of our lives. Never before have people paid so much attention to how cleaning is performed. As a profession, we’re stepping out of the shadows and onto the stage as people start to understand that cleanliness isn’t just about what you see, but also about what you don’t see.
In “Science, Cleaning and the Built Environment,” cleaning scientist Dr. Michael Berry stated, “Effective cleaning is not widely recognized as a form of insurance or that ineffective cleaning has a high cost in the long term.”
With the coronavirus and this pandemic, that has changed. People now see the critical importance of effective cleaning, because public health safety is at stake.
Whether you’re an (OS1) user or someone who stumbled on this blog post looking for ideas on how to better clean your facility, you can bet that once we get through this pandemic, people will be asking a lot more questions about your cleaning program. As we stated in this post, the business case for better cleaning has never been stronger; and evidence of this paradigm shift is popping up all around us.
Cleaning Takes the Stage
Last week, Delta Airlines introduced “Delta Clean”—their “new standard of airline cleanliness—now and always.” In a video announcing the initiative, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch discusses the various steps Delta plans to take to improve the cleanliness of its planes.
A recent article in National Geographic suggested that to fight germs wherever you go, you should ask about “cleaning practices” at hotels.
“Before you book a hotel or a vacation rental, ask about the cleaning process. Often, the answer will give you a clear idea of whether or not this is a place you want to stay.” – Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of the book The Germ Code.
Singapore has developed a stamp that helps visitors and locals easily identify hotels and other businesses that achieved a standard level of cleanliness. The “SG Clean” stamp is placed prominently at the entrance of an establishment and designed to give people “peace of mind,” says Keith Tan, CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board. They aim to eventually certify more than 37,000 establishments.
On April 9, the Google Doodle (the fun logo updates you can find on the Google homepage used to commemorate holidays and special occasions) was changed to a person holding a mop and bucket to recognize cleaning workers—this feels like a moment, right?
The Future of Cleaning
Products. Processes. Training. Measurement. These four key critical pieces of EVERY cleaning program will be the subject of scrutiny once buildings start to reopen. People will need peace of mind that they can step into buildings without concern of contamination.
This is good news for (OS1) users! There’s a good chance you can speak to each of these elements better than you can recall certain family members’ birthdays. From training to annual audits, the (OS1) System ensures that people understand not only HOW to clean, but WHY we clean.
If you’re not an (OS1) user, you need to be prepared to speak to cleaning processes, products, training and measurement protocols.
People will want to know what products and processes are used, and how cleaning performance is measured. Are you ready for that challenge?
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-Future-of-Cleaning-SOCIAL.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-04-15 15:50:232020-04-15 15:50:26The Future of Cleaning and Hygiene
Long before COVID-19 infected patient zero, a large percentage of the 3.25 million cleaning workers in the U.S. received little job training. In some circles, the assumption is that most people know how to clean, so the absence of training might not seem like a big deal. Individuals in these groups treat it as an inherent skillset that people are either born with or learn at an early age.
But the thing is, not everyone just “knows” how to clean. As a recent survey showed, the majority of Americans aren’t disinfecting properly. And the processes you would use to clean a building are different than how you would clean your home or apartment.
There are many issues with the lack of occupational training in the cleaning industry, but a primary issues is the increased risk and exposure to workers. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that cleaning workers suffer the second highest rates of job-related injuries of any occupation—injuries heavy lifting, overexertion, chemical exposure and slips and falls are most common.
Reducing Risks to Cleaning Workers Now and After the Pandemic
When it comes to COVID-19, cleaning and disinfection is essential in stopping the spread of the disease. Aside from person-to-person spread, COVID-19 spreads when a person comes into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. So when businesses slowly begin to open again over the next few months, all eyes will be on cleaning workers. Regular, systematic cleaning and disinfection will be key to controlling the spread of the virus and limiting the additional waves of the pandemic.
For these individuals to clean—and to not pollute the surfaces and buildings they are meant to protect—they need training. They also need training to protect themselves.
During this period, we can expect to see a swell of new cleaning service providers. Many people who have been displaced from current jobs in the hospitality or foodservice industries may find themselves working in a position where they’re being asked to clean in a commercial environment for the first time.
We’ve seen way too many headlines highlighting cleaning workers who are concerned because they don’t understand the routes of transmission or how they could become infected. Too many people who are asked to use new disinfectants and don’t have training to do so. Too many people who aren’t equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their hands and faces from exposure.
We need to reverse this trend and make sure ALL cleaning workers have the knowledge and training they need to clean safely and protect themselves.
If you’re new to cleaning, we’ve pulled together a checklist of things you should know before you start working.
This is not meant to replace any existing training programs, but rather serve as a supplement. Our hope is to help provide a resource for those individuals who may not receive any training from their employers. If that’s you, we’re here for you. Please feel free to reach out with any questions about what you can do to protect yourself during this time.
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