Time to come clean
Your cleaning team is the frontline for keeping your facility functioning at its best, says ARIAN BAHRAMSARI.
The story goes, that President John F Kennedy had a conversation with a cleaner when he visited NASA at the height of the Apollo 11 campaign, asking exactly what he was doing. The cleaner’s answer was swift and succinct: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
Every organisation needs to safeguard its employees and its reputation by having a clean and well-maintained facility. The cleaner at NASA knew his role and, chances are, things may not have gone as successfully had he not played his part.
Cleaning practices in facility management are not just the sum of performing a few simple tasks, but a comprehensive approach that can have a direct impact on the performance of people using those facilities.
So, how can facility managers be on top of cleaning and hygiene requirements?
Cleaning in facility management is a wide- ranging area. It can be as straightforward as carpet and glass cleaning and waste disposal, through to potentially complex areas such as water and drain hygiene and asbestos abatement.
Apart from making their daily check on cleaning practices in their building or venue, there are some essential points that should be taken into account by facility managers.
BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF VARIOUS CLEANING METHODS AND EQUIPMENT
It may seem obvious, but there are still many facility managers who are not aware of the differences between burnishing, buffing and scrubbing methods in cleaning. Being knowledgeable about cleaning products, chemicals and machines can increase your efficiency.
PLAN FOR DIFFERENT CLEANING SCENARIOS
Not all cleaning-related problems in your facility can be resolved using the same cleaning team. Let’s take mould issues as an example – you need to use a mould specialist. Sending your regular cleaner to remove mould in an affected area could put their health at risk.
All facility managers should have a range of contacts to call upon to rectify specific issues, whether for an emergency call-out or not, such as cleaning for sewage overflows or dealing with asbestos.
PROMOTE PUBLIC HYGIENE – PROVIDE CLEANING PRODUCTS IN COMMON AREAS
Facility managers can do their part to bolster levels of public hygiene in their building via some basic practices. Some of these include ensuring tissues are available, offering hand sanitisers at concierge desks, or placing antibacterial wipes and mouthwash machines in common areas such as a building’s gym or end-of-trip facilities. These can all help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Clean and fresh air has a vital role to play in everyone’s health. Facility managers can equip their HVAC/air handler systems with UV lights to eliminate disease transmission and sterilise the air.
IMPLEMENT COLOUR CODING ON CLEANING TOOLS
Essentially, colour coding mops, cloths, buckets and any cleaning tool will reduce the risks of spreading diseases and germs. Here are some general principles:
- red – washroom and toilets
- blue – general use for offices, stairs and lobbies
- green – kitchen and food services, and
- yellow – clinical (infectious areas and contaminated fluids).
Diligent facility managers will look for hidden or overlooked parts of the building. There’s a good chance such areas will be filthy.
Any building has areas that have been overlooked or fallen off the cleaning schedule for some reason. Fire hose reel cupboards, electrical/communication cabinets, fire exit stairwells and restroom ceiling air vents are some instances of these areas.
TRAIN CLEANING STAFF ADEQUATELY FOR BETTER SAFETY AND EFFICIENCY
Facility managers are required to make sure that cleaners know about their building specifications, bin area facilities and procedures for cleaning issues such as unblocking chutes.
Cleaners need to be notified about electrical protocols – some office power plugs are designed for computer connection only and your cleaners should be briefed.
You should also ensure that during any wet work, your cleaners place caution/wet signs at the entrance and exit of affected areas.
EDUCATE TENANTS/RESIDENTS IN MANAGING THEIR WASTE What goes in which bin? Facility managers have a major role to play in educating occupants regarding what waste goes to yellow, blue, green or red bins. One of the common problems I often see is a lack of occupant awareness about which is the right bin for polystyrenes. HINT: it’s not the same bin as cardboard. Allocating a specific area for hard rubbish and e-waste is also a critical task.
It’s important to leave basic cleaning equipment accessible for any emergencies such as a spill in a lift or flooding caused by a blocked drain – particularly during periods where facility managers are not on-site.
In healthcare facilities, there is a compulsory requirement that the effectiveness of cleaning is measured. An audit process is a valuable tool for any building; facility managers should look to engage auditors to gauge their cleaning quality and controls.
Arian Bahramsari is a Melbourne-based facility manager.
This article also appears in the June/July issue of Facility Management magazine.
Image: 123RF’s Chutima Chaochaiya © 123RF