There are so many potential benefits to be gained from creating effective international cleaning standards — whether for washroom facilities, carpet and soft furnishings cleaning, window cleaning, office cleaning or hygiene cleaning in hospitals and clinics.
Multinational companies, just as they expect architects and construction companies around the world to design and build their offices and factories to international building standards, are expecting cleaning, maintenance and facilities management to conform similarly to their company standards. For example, standardisation of terminology makes technology transfer easier and more reliably straightforward.
Benefits of international cleaning standards
International standardisation of symbols or colour codes on containers makes warnings better understood, and instructions more likely to be complied with. Standardisation of the form of estimates, quotations and documentation makes misunderstandings and disputes much less likely. International agreements on what a cleaning company must provide if a customer wants an OFF126 office cleaning package, or some other internationally defined service, would mean less bureaucracy, less uncertainty, faster agreement and less likelihood of disagreement.
There is also the issue of approved standards for cleaning machinery, materials and equipment. Until now, the lack of agreed standards has also meant that those buying cleaning machines, chemicals and other products had very little independent information available to enable them to distinguish between what was effective and good value for money and what was not.
It became clear during the last couple of years that one way of establishing reliable and acknowledged benchmarks of quality and performance would be for the British Institute of Cleaning Science to take the lead by creating recognised standards for cleaning products and systems, which it has done by launching Accredited Cleaning Systems Standards for cleaning equipment and systems manufactured and/or marketed by Corporate Members of the Institute.
The BICS International team is delivering accredited training and assessment capability internationally, training people to BICSc accredited standards. People are assessed to be sure that they understand how to use equipment and materials according to manufacturers’ instructions, and how to deliver the required skills in delivering a cleaning service, following the BICSc accredited standards.
Use safe and environmentally friendly cleaning products
Products which are hazardous to health should not be used in cleaning procedures. Wherever possible use environmentally friendly cleaning products. There is evidence that some cleaning product ingredients harm the environment, damaging aquatic ecosystems and causing air and water pollution. Dangerous compounds may also form when various cleaning products are inadvertently mixed both during cleaning and once they are tipped down the drain. Advancements in green cleaning mean that cost effective ecological methods can prevent infection in the washroom setting whilst setting high standards of cleanliness.
Many of the improvements offered by manufacturers, suppliers, trainers and others in the industry have had a value-added impact on cleaning. For example, Microfibre mop heads and cloths not only release dirt more readily but are easier to lift than traditional “spaghetti” mops because they weigh less. They are also more environment friendly because they use less water, and are able to be laundered. Touch-free cleaning systems have also been introduced to help with washroom cleanliness and hygiene. These systems not only address the issue of cross-contamination, but can also reduce the amount of time it takes to clean a washroom.
Train to ensure high standards of hygiene and cleanliness
For all the innovations in the industry, the need for professionalism and attention to detail is vital.
Properly training employees, through accredited training, should always be a top priority. It is important to have the proper tools when cleaning, but it is even more important to have the correct accredited training.
Although untrained cleaning operatives are likely to cost less than fully trained staff, professional standards will not be achieved, because individuals will have little knowledge of the specialist task in hand and are, most likely, totally unaware of the correct procedures. You will see much better results from an operative trained to an accredited standard and it will take them significantly less time to keep your premises clean and hygienic. Companies can reduce their expenditure and outgoings in the long term as a result of increased productivity.
Not only will you see much better results from a cleaning operative trained to accredited standards, but it will also mean that cleaning skills are safe for the ‘environment’ and for themselves and the users of the building. Cutting corners on standards is dangerous.
Training routes are extremely accessible and cost effective. For instance, the Cleaning Professionals Skills Suite (CPSS), the improved assessment scheme for accredited training in the cleaning industry has been launched this year with a minimum requirement of three essential skills to ensure the safety of operatives, safety of users of the building and sustainability of the building. The Institute has spent much time developing the CPSS to make sure it exactly matches industry needs at this current time, as well as going forwards in the future. Three mandatory units are available ensuring safety of the operative, users of the building and sustainability of the fabrics / fittings within the building. There are 25 core cleaning skills, covering a broad aspect of cleaning responsibilities. The CPSS will give people the opportunity to return to learning, with hands on accredited training and the skills needed to safely work within the cleaning industry.