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What We’re Lovin’: The FIT Start Program at The University of Texas at Austin

Few would argue that custodial work is tough business. Not only does it come without much prestige or recognition, it also requires a lot of physical exertion — more succinctly, “elbow grease.” In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts custodians near the top of the list of occupations with the highest rates of injury-causing days away from work in the U.S.

Most of these injuries are caused by overexertion, or pushing the body past its limit.

Someone who has overexerted themselves can experience a variety of issues, including swelling in the joints, pain, soreness, numbness, muscle weakness and repetitive injuries down the road. It can also lead to increased workers’ compensation claims and labor costs—which already amount for almost one-third of a total facilities’ budget.

But the thing is, the majority of injuries related overexertion are preventable. We’ve found that the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT Austin) Fit Start Program is one smart approach to helping prevent these injuries.

In 2010, the UT Austin custodial management team recognized the need to address the daily physical strains experienced by custodial staff, so they partnered with the Kinesiology Department’s Fitness Institute of Texas. The group studied the daily work and cleaning tasks of each custodial worker and developed a customized program aimed to reduce the risk of injury and prepare the custodial department for the demands of the day. After conducting a series of trials to see what worked and didn’t work for the team, the program was implemented with the goal of preparing employees for the day and reducing the risk of injury.

Every morning, the custodial team warms up before each shift. The routine consists of five simple movements that are not exercises or stretches, but activities specifically designed to accomplish the following:

  • Increase blood flow to the muscles that are needed to perform custodial work.
  • Increase the communication between an individual’s brain and muscles to help reduce the risk of injury.

Following the acronym detailed in the program’s name, the moves consist of the following:

S: Swing the Arms

T: Twist the Body

A: Alternate and Sink

R: Reach and Fold

T: Touch and Toss

While the thought of doing warm up exercises before each shift may seem silly or unnecessary, it can have several benefits if you do it the right way. In addition to reducing injuries, it can offer an opportunity to engage workers and have some fun. It also shows them that you care about them and their well-being—and what’s not to love about that?

We love the program so much that we’ve incorporated it into our (OS1) Program to improve the safety of cleaning professionals everywhere.

And the 2012 Best in the Cleaning Industry Nominees are…

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Winners will be announced at the 11th Annual Simon Institute Symposium during the Awards Ceremony August 6th 2012. For more information please visit: www.simoninstitute.org 

Best Cleaning Program Award

  • Michigan State University
  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • University of Michigan
  • Wake Forrest University

Best (OS1) Audit Award

  • Michigan State University
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst – Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center and UMASS Hotel
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Wake Forest University

Pioneer Award

  • Rappahannock Goodwill Industries – Cleaning with workers with disabilities at Marine Base Quantico
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center – (OS1) Cleaning in a multi-use building
  • University of Michigan – Cost justification for improving results while cutting costs
  • The University of Texas at Austin – Job Card Development and Implementation
  • Wake Forest University – Hiring Utilizing the ManageMen Job Fair

Innovation Award

  • KBM Facility Solutions – (OS1) Distributor Certification Program Development
  • KBM Facility Solutions – (OS1) Floor Care Program Development
  • Los Angeles Habilitation House – Using (OS1) to Create Job Opportunities for Disabled Veterans
  • Sandia National Laboratories – Disaster Response During the 2011 Freeze
  • Wake Forest University – (OS1) Distributor Certification

Peer Influence Award

  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Housing
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Service Point

Trainer of the Year Award

  • Marcela Bernal – GMI Building Services
  • Mary Clark – Michigan State University
  • Joseph Garcia –  Mt. San Antonio College
  • Jewel Golson-Roberts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Chris Wallace – Service Point

Communications Award

  • KBM Facility Solutions
  • Los Angeles Habilitation House
  • University of Michigan
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Wake Forest University

Safety and Health Award

  • Michigan State University
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Disaster Clean-up
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • The University of Texas at Austin

Environmental Program Award

  • KBM Facility Solutions
  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • Provo City School District
  • University of Michigan
  • The University of Texas at Austin

Training Program Award

  • Michigan State University
  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Wake Forest University

Cleaning Quality Improvement Award

  • KBM Facility Solutions at The Boeing Company, St. Louis, MO.
  • Michigan State University
  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • University of Michigan
  • Wake Forest University

Certification Program Award

  • KBM Facility Solutions
  • Los Angeles Habilitation House
  • Michigan State University
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • Wake Forest University

Workloading Award

  • Michigan State University
  • Provo City School District
  • Service Point
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Wake Forest University

Cleaning for Health at The University of Texas at Austin

A control cabinet at The University of Texas of Austin holds approximately three months of chemicals used to clean the buildings on campus.

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By Bobby Moddrell – Custodial Services Division
The University of Texas at Austin

 

For the past decade, the Custodial Services Division of The University of Texas at Austin has maintained over 12 million square feet of the campus using our (OS1) process. (OS1) promotes the standardization of the custodial operation through the use of environmentally friendly products, ergonomic tools, worker safety, strategically assigned workloads for each Full Time Equivalent Employee (FTE), and a robust training program. With this process, Custodial Services has maintained a consistent cleaning program across campus despite the size of the operation and the varying demands of each building.

The (OS1) process has also ushered in a sustainable approach to cleaning, that is easily reflected in our chemical program, water usage, paper and plastic products inventory, team cleaning system and indoor air quality. Prior to (OS1), UT Austin’s Custodial Services’ chemical program consisted of over 200 different chemicals which is fairly standard for most cleaning operations of this size. Since the implementation of (OS1), that number has been reduced almost 88%, a grand total of 25 chemicals. This reduction is due in large part to PortionPac, a company that provides environmentally responsible chemical concentrates which are packaged in individual pacs that are pre-measured for a specific container. By using one pac per bucket, bottle or tank of water [known in (OS1) as “the rule of one“], we realize a safer, more accurate use of chemicals, thus eliminating unnecessary waste and environmental pollution. Of our four daily use chemicals, three are Green Seal Certified and the daily germicide used to reduce pathogenic microorganisms is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Subscribing to the (OS1) process has also decreased Custodial Services’ annual water usage by roughly 70%. While the effective measurement and use of chemicals contributes to this figure, it is the use of two-sided mop buckets and microfiber cloths that has had the greatest impact on water usage. Traditional mop buckets hold five gallons of water, but the two-side restroom and utility buckets used in our program hold 1.25 and 2 gallons of water respectively. Additionally, a two-sided mop bucket system keeps clean solution and contaminated water separate, thus ensuring the longevity of the cleaning solution and reducing cross contamination. The coordinated use of microfiber flat mops also helps conserve water.

Traditional string mops transfer more water than necessary to hard floor surfaces, making it difficult to clean and absorb the dirtied water effectively. Moreover, the fibers of a traditional string mop are incapable of trapping the microorganisms targeted in common cleaning procedures. Microfiber mops, however, absorb up to six times their own weight in liquid pick up and retention and their unique fibers have been shown to reduce bacteria up to 96%. The use of two-side mop buckets and microfiber mops have been instrumental in our decreased water usage. The switch alone has brought our estimated water usage from 863,340 gallons annually to 262,302 gallons for a savings of 601,038 gallons of water each year.

Custodial Services’ commitment to sustainability is reflected in the choice of paper and plastic products used across campus. Both our toilet paper and hand towels contain high percentages of recycled fiber and post-consumer content. Custodial Services has also made the switch to a more sustainable trash liner. These new liners are made from linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and meet the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement guidelines. This means the liners’ post-consumer content can range from 10%-100%. All liners contain 100% post-consumer recycled resin. The liners have reduced our annual liner waste to landfills by an estimated 36%. Our previous liners contributed 220,459 pounds of waste annually, but the new liners will only contribute an estimated 141,847 pounds for a reduction of 78,612 pounds per year.

Through the daily maintenance of campus buildings, Custodial Services is doing its part to sustain the built environment. This effort not only prolongs the life of buildings and materials therein, but also improves the quality of life inside these buildings by all occupants. The Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) posits that individuals spend nearly 90% of their time indoors, whether at work, home or in transit. As such, it has become increasingly important to maintain an indoor environment free of pollutants. A recent study measured the indoor air quality of a building maintained with an average upright vacuum and found the level of pollutants equal to roughly twenty times what the EPA allows Americans to pollute from their cars. This is not surprising considering cloth filter bags on traditional upright vacuums only remove 30% of pollutants from the air. In an effort to improve indoor air quality, Custodial Services elected to use Super CoachVac backpack vacuums manufactured by ProTeam. These vacuums provide four-level filtration, removing 99.9% of lung-damaging particles.

Additionally, these vacuums help protect carpet, extending the life of carpet and reducing the need for replacement. It is this high level of carpet care and air purification that has earned the Pro Team Vacuum the Carpet Research Institute’s (CRI) green label certification.

While others outsource, UT-Austin Investing in Custodial Training

Custodians listen to Luis Alvarado, an (OS1) Certified Coach, as he instructs them on safe cleaning techniques during their three-week custodial training program. Photo by Melissa Macaya.

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By Melissa Macaya
For Reporting Texas

While many educational institutions across Texas have outsourced their custodial services as a result of drastic budget cuts, UT-Austin continues to hire and train its own custodial staff under their state-funded program called (OS1). The university only outsources about 10 percent of its custodial services for specialized cases…

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Clean and Green: The University of Texas at Austin’s Sustainable Cleaning Process

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Presented by Robert Moddrell and Corey Wright, The University of Texas at Austin.

For the last decade, UT Austin’s Custodial Services has maintained over 12.5 million square feet of the UT campus using a high-performance cleaning process called (OS1). Developed by ManageMen, (OS1) promotes the standardization of the custodial operation through the use of environmentally friendly products and ergonomic tools. With this process, Custodial Services has maintained a consistent cleaning program across campus despite the size of our operation and varying demands of each building. Moreover, this process has ushered in a sustainable approach to cleaning that is easily reflected in our chemical program, water usage, paper and plastic products inventory, team cleaning system, and indoor air quality.

(OS1) User News: UT at Austin Makes The Cover of Housekeeping Solutions

Our friends and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin are the cover story in the November 2011 issue of Housekeeping Solutions. Click on the button below to read an article about their custodial training program, which makes them one of our most successful (OS1) Programs.

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