The Newlife Cleaning Systems Cleaning Blog
Here at Newlife, we’re always looking to support the industry where we can. Particularly the small cleaning company entrepreneurs around the country. After all that’s how Newlife started some thirty years ago. Since the huge interest we had after releasing some free cleaning method statements to download. We thought we’d do another free document give away to offer something back to the industry.
Since the distribution of our new cleaning staff company handbook last year, we thought we’d make our previous edition absolutely free of charge to download, here on our blog.
For ease of use we’ve made two copies of our cleaning company handbook available. One .pdf, one .doc. All you have to do is click either of the links below, right click – Save As and it’s yours, free.
The handbook has been formatted to remove all company names, all you need to do is do a ‘find and replace’ on the words ‘your company’, substitute it for your own company name and your done.
Aside from updating the company name and address, that’s it! And yes, you can add your own logo if you wish. Its totally free to use as you wish.
What are we asking for this? Absolutely nothing. However, should you be willing, please tweet, post to Facebook and share however you see fit. The links are at the bottom, its easy and after all sharing is caring.
NB – Please remember this is a generic document that has been formatted for universal use. Take the time to read it through thoroughly as not all clauses, appendixes etc will apply to you.
Disclaimer – Newlife Cleaning Systems accepts no responsibility or liability for any issues that arise from the use of this document. It is the responsibility of you, the user, to edit as you require and tailor to the requirements of your business.
There was an article in the C&M (Cleaning and Maintenance) this month, which drew attention to an issue that is undoubtedly affecting most businesses this winter. Emma Murray who wrote the article commented on the issue of sickness in the workplace, and the amount of money lost by the businesses when members of staff call in sick.
The article discussed many ways in which the health and well-being of employees can be improved, by the addition of more hygienic measures and practises within the office itself. This is due, in short, to the number of instances during the working day, especially within an office, when employees can be exposed to germs and bacteria which will make them unwell.
There are a number of items in the office where germs, bacteria and other nasty micro-organisms can hide, which is especially concerning, with the knowledge that they can survive outside the body for up to two days. Then, all that’s needed is for the hands to come into contact with them, then to touch the face and eyes, and the germs easily reach the individual’s system.
Tea cups (for that much sought-after cup of coffee in the morning), pens, and mobile phones are all touched a number of times during the day, often by more than one person at a time. Pens in particular can be a hotbed for bacteria, as staff can often put them in their mouths as they work, without giving thought to where they had been previously, or who else would use them after.
Another hidden harbourer of nasties is the office keyboard- an essential item in every office in the country. A study by ‘Which?’ states that there are more germs in an office keyboard, than the average toilet. This is an eye-opening revelation, especially when a number of members of staff eat their lunch at their desk.
On top of all of that, at this cold time of year, you’re likely to have the heating on high, to make sure staff are warm and toasty while they work. Unfortunately, the warm office where a lot of people are crammed into one space is the perfect breeding ground for germs.
Finally (and potentially the most worryingly), it has been reported by the Federation of Food and Drink, that one third of grown adults do not wash their hands after going to the toilet. So using that statistic, up to one third of the workforce could be spreading germs and bacteria that their hands have picked up in the toilet.
So how do we prevent this from happening?
Firstly, as most germs are passed from person to person through the hands, and enter the body through the nose and eyes, so it could be worth drawing employees’ attention to this fact. Making them aware that touching their eyes and noses in the workplace could lead to making them ill, could help to prevent them from doing so going forward.
At the same time, it could also be worth identifying the importance of regular hand washing during the working day. Pointing out the common items which could carry germs may make them more aware that they need to wash their hands more often. It may also be beneficial to aid them by supplying hand sanitising solutions on their desk, so they can freshen their hands and kill any bacteria on them.
To prevent bacteria from being picked up in the office, stopping staff from eating their lunch at their desks may be something worth considering. Finding another room in your premises where staff can go to eat will prevent the germs from the office keyboard from touching their fingers, and their food. Additionally, it will give your staff somewhere to chat and interact in a different environment to the office, helping to build and develop employee relationships too.
To encourage cleanliness and correct hand washing after staff have used to toilet, installing automatic soap dispensers into the office toilets, will be one way to show your employees that you are taking hygiene in the workplace seriously. Operated by infra-red technology, the user does not need to touch the device, so their hands can be cleaned without spreading bacteria onto the dispenser. Similarly, investing in a hygienic hand drying system may be worthwhile. There are a number of hand towel dispensers and automatic hand dryers on the market, that will help your employees to dry their hands and remain germ-free.
Finally, as the winter dies away, keep the central heating on at a minimum and open the windows. This will help to keep fresh air circulating, so unhealthy microorganisms aren’t spread in the atmosphere.
So if you’re a business owner reading this, investing in office cleanliness is an investment that will pay for itself. You don’t have to lose any of the business’s valuable funds by handing out sick pay, or suffer a drop in productivity; instead hygienic products and an increased awareness will help to keep staff fit, healthy and in work during winter.
If you would like an office deep clean, we can advise you and provide you with office cleaning services.
At Newlife Cleaning Systems, developing and continuing to improve are essential parts of what we do. In the contract cleaning industry, there are new expansions and advancements in technology all the time, so it’s very important to us that we’re always at the top of our game.
One of the ways in which we do this, is to make sure that we have attained the appropriate industry certifications. This helps us to ensure that we, and our cleaners, are doing the best job possible.
We are therefore delighted to announce that we have recently received a SAFEcontractor accreditation, which we hope will benefit both our clients, and the people who work for us.
SAFEcontractor is a leading UK-based scheme, which helps companies within our industry to improve the quality of their health and safety, and their competency record as a result.
One of the reasons we applied for the SAFEcontractor accreditation, was the desire for uniformed standards across our business. Many major clients recognise the scheme and accept the certificate as confirmation of competency.
Under the SAFEContractor systems, we have had to undergo a vetting process, which examines our health and safety procedures. This process also reviews our previous health and safety procedures, to ensure that they were up to standard prior to the review, and not just on the day.
SAFEContractor is applicable to most sectors, although it is particularly relevant to food manufacture, property, facilities management, retail and leisure sectors- all of which tend to be big users of contract services.
The SAFEcontractor accreditation recognises very high standards of health and safety practise amongst UK contractors, which means that receiving this certificate puts us in excellent company. The certification will also help us with more practical purposes; when our liability policy is ready for renewal, it will demonstrate to insurance companies that we are exploring all possible avenues to ensure that our work is as careful and efficient as possible.
Not only does this benefit our business and our clients, but achieving commendations like this is also accepted as the only way to proceed in an economy that’s as strained as ours. This is seen clearly in a quotation from John Kinge, Head of Risk and SAFEcontractor, who states:
“Major organisations can no longer run the risk of employing contractors who are not able to prove that they have sound health and safety policies.”
“More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that Newlife Cleaning Systems has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example, which hopefully will be followed by other companies in the sector.”
You can view a full and comprehensive list of the organisations approved by SAFEContractor, by visiting their website. You will need to register on the site, which is very worthwhile, as it gives you access to an entire database of approved companies; giving you more peace of mind when you select contractor to work with.
Our clients will not be alone in seeking the benefits of this database; over 150 major national companies, from a number of key market sectors, have signed up to use it. This will help them when selecting cleaning, maintenance, refurbishment, and electrical and mechanical services going forward.
For more information on what the SAFEcontractor accreditation means for our clients, please contact us.
The information for this article, including the quotations from John Kinge, was taken from a press release sent to us by SAFEcontractor.
Joe Grundy of The Archers was 88 years old this year and for as long as I’ve listened to that melodic dum,di-dum,di-dum,di-da tune, (it’s actually a Maypole dance called Barwick Green) he has moaned and groaned about his Farmers Lung usually through fits of chesty coughing.
Joe may use Farmer’s Lung for the sympathy angle with Clarrie and the rest of the folk in Borsetshire but extrinsic allergic alveolitis as the medical condition is known can strike the susceptible at home work and play.
Just look at its common names: Bird-fancier’s lung, Hot tub lung, Mushroom worker’s lung, Chemical worker’s lung and Malt worker’s lung.
It strikes the air sacks and passageways of the lungs which become inflamed when sensitised by repeatedly breathing in organic antigens (protein molecules) in a carrier such as dust or steam usually associated with a process. This is the common denominator in all those colloquial names, the process source, – dairy or grain dust, animal dander (think of it as animal dandruff) and water reservoir vapours. And it’s not just an adult disease; pigeon-fanciers lung is occasionally present in children.
It shows itself in many forms. In its acute state symptoms can start within hours of exposure and can be recognised by headaches, chills, flu like feelings with aches and pains. Usually the symptoms, depending on the length of exposure, diminish within the day but can lead to respiratory distress and a high fever.
Its intermittent form can be present as recurring pneumonia with repeated acute attacks (Joe Grundy’s version). With the chronic form even removing the source of the antigens by, and this is an extreme example, giving up work, there may only be partial improvement of the symptoms and permanent lung damage can occur leading to pulmonary hypertension and ultimately even a heart attack.
As always prevention is better than cure. Safety procedures are simple to adopt in themselves. The main difficulty arises in the education and raising awareness of the potential dangers with staff and clients. They simply do not realise the dangers inherent in carrying out certain apparently simple cleaning tasks such as guano removal, water tower cleaning, mill high level works, swimming pools and sites with air conditioning equipment.
Prevention techniques include:
H&S measures at work, including wearing appropriate PPE and adequate air filters and ventilation.
Choosing your hobby carefully and if you are going to keep birds and suchlike consider the use of filtered facemasks whenever handling livestock.
Proper care and maintenance programmes for swimming pools, hot tubs, humidifiers and air-conditioning equipment.
First published 5 years ago Crisis in Cleaning by Scott Young is an invaluable tool for any cleaning contractor or manager with responsibility for premises cleaning especially where hard floors are involved.
In it he willingly shares 56 years experience in the industry with a career spanning window cleaning to building cleaning contractor then on into manufacturing of cleaning equipment based and designed on his many years of practice in the field.
What this book is about is one mans quest to explain the importance of professional cleaning.
It is mandatory reading for all Newlife Cleaning Systems Area Managers which is the highest endorsement we can give.
It doesn’t matter whether you have just started your first commercial contract or you’re a facility manager with a ‘slip and trip’ problem in your client’s kitchens. The answer is in this personal journey to excellence.
A limited number of copies are available, P+P free, to the first 50 readers who register their interest.
please email email@example.com with your postage and contact details
Columbus Dixon Aug 2010
Giving your age away by referencing a Gerry Anderson cartoon character from the 50’s could make you appear a Saddo but anyone of a certain age will remember Twizzle with fondness. With his extending arms and legs he constantly went from one high level escapade to another. www.televisionheaven.co.uk/twizzle.htm
The cleaning industry was exactly the same not that long ago. I remember the days when we used to have a squad undertaking high level cleaning works in a crisp factory every Saturday, cleaning factory overheads contaminated with grease from the fryers from one stage of the cooking process to encrustations of ‘flavourings’ at the other. The disappointed at discovering that all those favourite tastes on my Tudor Crisps were simply powders sprinkled onto the cooked potato has never left me.
Just like Twizzle our squad could perform seemingly superhuman acts, accessing the shadowy voids above the lights over the production floor like acrobats in a Big Top.
The deceptively simple act of slinging 24 foot Newman boards between greasy purloins to access the ceilings 35 feet above the still hot fryers was only surpassed by the choreography of 5 men working in tandem. Standing on the board which twisted and dipped keeping time with their movements as they reached as high above themselves as they could to spray and scrub the roof panels, coated with layer after layer of greasy gunk. All the time being serviced by a ‘gopher’ on the factory floor that would be rinsing and throwing back the wipes which they constantly threw at him as they got clogged up with grease.
Fond memories of a good hard-working team of people but how lucky we were. It’s hard to imagine in this day and age when “high level” means anything higher than you can reach from floor level what it was like.
Five of you working from a greasy, slippery plank, 18″ wide that moved like a ship bobbing in a stormy sea. No side rails and only wimps clipped on their safety belts, which would have disembowelled you if you had fallen anyway. Working away, covered in degreasant which matted your hair and slowly worked its way down your arms and through your overalls so you were constantly damp from sweat and chemical.
How we never had an accident I will never know but that was the way it was done in those days. Customers weren’t interested in the factory cleaning process, only in the result and the cost. So, perhaps, on reflection, those good old days weren’t as good as they appear.
Fast-forward to 2010 and while some things haven’t changed, as customers still want the lowest cost possible but what has changed is how ‘elf ‘nd safety has improved the lot of our industry.
Not only has it heightened the requirement for planned maintenance cleaning in every industry as the skills aren’t available to do it inhouse now, which has grown the cleaning market, but it also dictates that cleaning is carried out in a far more planned and professional manner.
This can only be of benefit to our staff, our customers and the cleaning industry itself.
For our customers it simply means a more professional job. “Duty of care” imposes a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and yes, they do want value for money but they also want Method Statements, Risk Assessments, COSHH sheets on the products being used (can you really use this cleaning product in a food factory?), training records and a thorough knowledge of ‘pedigree’ a s a company so that they can have peace of mind that they are getting a pukka job which they don’t have to worry about.
For our cleaning staff the changes within the industry mean that they can be recognised as being professionally competent. What I mean by that is that they are no longer just the cleaners. Competency in my eyes means that elusive combination of practical experience combined with formal training to recognised standards, which in turn further reinforces their practical experience. A win-win situation!
This means an experienced “hand” will have had time and money invested in them to equip them with both the practical skills to do the job but also formal training to prove their competency in doing the job. This could range from PASMA training to even be allowed to build an access tower to IPAF certification to use “cherry-pickers” then there is the multitude of testing to prove competency to work in confined space, use high pressure washing equipment, then the knowledge of what to do if there actually was an accident so first aid training. The list is endless and from the operatives point of view can show the regard that their employer actually holds them in as all this training is ‘portable’ i.e. it’s in the workman’s name NOT the company’s name.
So yes it would be nice to employ a few Twizzles but in reality the ‘good old days’ of the cleaning industry weren’t as good as our memory would have us believe. Through Health & Safety legislation lives have been saved and injuries minimised but also the marketplace has greater barriers to entry put in position as the need for professionalism within the cleaning workforce has increased which in turn leads to a better job for our clients. All in all I believe this can only be for the greater good.
Columbus Dixon March 2010.
Guano removal isn’t exactly the most glamorous job out there, however the public health risk posed by guano means that its safe removal is extremely important. The term ‘guano’ was coined in Peru where for hundreds of years farmers had collected the white piles of guano from the shoreline and caves where it had been deposited by seals and bats respectively. They realised the nutrient rich compound was ideal to support their agriculture. This is primarily due to the large amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen contained within the guano. Even today the export of guano provides a key resource to the organic farming industry throughout the world. Alongside this it is also a key ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder, again due to the large presence of phosphorus and nitrogen.
Despite its numerous positive uses guano is almost universally detested within the UK, and rightly so. The main sources of guano in Britain are bats and pigeons. Guano from these animals carries an assortment of diseases which present a danger to humans. Pigeon droppings alone can lead to psittacosis, a flu like condition that can lead to comas and even death in vulnerable individuals. Pigeons are also associated with bacterial infections such as salmonella, E.coli, meningitis and toxoplasmosis. In addition to these illnesses guano poses a danger on walkways where the slippery droppings can lead to accidents. If that wasn’t enough the faecal matter of the birds can cause acidic damage to the buildings that they occupy. All of these health risks make guano removal an important task.
Guano removal has the potential to be highly dangerous if it is not carried out by professionals. The guano must be dampened before it is removed otherwise toxic particles will be released into the air and could be inhaled during the guano removal process. Even when the guano has been dampened operatives are still required to wear face masks while removing the guano in order to prevent the dangers outlined above. This is especially important when operating in confined spaces without good ventilation. After the guano removal process has been completed precautions should be taken in order to try and prevent the return of the birds so that the problem does not simply repeat itself.
Despite what you might think sharps removal and disposal is a very dangerous and specialised process. A ‘dirty’ needle could be harbouring a whole host of blood-borne viruses. These could range from HIV to hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV). Although the risk of HIV infection from a single exposure is fairly low the consequences of such an infection would be life changing, as such it is never recommended for an amateur to partake in sharps removal, no matter how good their intention.
It should also be noted that HCV, unlike HIV, is frequently contracted from a single exposure. What makes this even more alarming is the prevalence of HCV among drug users, a group who are not renowned for their responsible disposal of used sharps. In fact a recent American study revealed that the HCV infection rate was around 86% among intravenous drug users in Tacoma, Washington. (Pollack, H. Can we Protect Drug Users from Hepatitis C? 2001). It is safe to assume that the infection rate is likely to be at a similar level in British cities with a similar demographic. In light of these factors it seems irresponsible not to leave sharps removal to trained professionals armed with the correct safety equipment.
One of the consequences of increased drug use in Britain is a growth in the areas where used sharps can be found. In the past drug use was usually kept out of the public domain, it occurred behind the closed doors of squats and other such locations but this is no longer the case. Sharps removal teams are regularly called to areas such as public parks, toilets, playgrounds and a whole host of other public areas where sharps are present. With the public coming into contact with used sharps on an ever increasing basis it is important that people are aware of how to treat a used needle and arrange for sharp removal. It should never under any circumstances be handled in any way, even with protective gloves. Upon discovering a used needle members of the public should contact the owner of the land where the sharp is situated.
Sharps removal should be left to professionals with industry approved equipment and the relevant expertise. It is only if sharps removal is performed in this way that we can work to neutralise the dangers that these objects pose to the general public.
The high street retailer WH Smith has recently been condemned for their abandonment of professional contract cleaners. The company has disregarded these professional contract cleaners in favour of their own retail staff despite the swine flu pandemic. Smiths have delegated cleaning to every day staff as part of their general duties, a move that has been condemned by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) as well as the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA).
In an attempt to cut costs the high street chain has slashed the use of professional contract cleaners to once a week in some of its stores. This has left staff in the lurch as they are now required to sweep floors and carry out general cleaning in store.
Regardless of opposition from staff and cleaning firms currently under contract with WH Smith, the retailer’s chief executive Kate Swann pressed ahead with the policy. This decision was criticised by Andrew Large when he spoke on behalf of the BCC and CSSA. He described the measures as potentially unlawful before going on to criticise them as damaging to good hygiene at a time when this was increasingly important. Large also promised to investigate if professional contract cleaners were made redundant when they should have remained under the employment of WH Smith.
Mr Large criticised the high street giant’s actions claiming that “WH Smith is depriving itself of skills and expertise of cleaning professionals.” He went on to say that there is “no guarantee that the shop workers will have the necessary skills or training to be able to maintain the stores to a satisfactory standard.”
It is clear that if an organisation wishes to maintain proper infection control practices then the best option is to employ professional contract cleaners with all of the necessary expertise. It is only by doing this that a company can be sure that all the necessary measures are being taken to combat the transmission of the swine flu virus, ideally through the use of swine flu sanitizer, wipes and hard surface cleaners. With thousands of customers browsing through the retailer’s magazines on a daily basis, it is both irresponsible and potentially dangerous for WH Smith to cut back on professional contract cleaners at this time.
Or how to make your life easier and your operative’s safer
The first time you’re asked to produce a Method Statement on the work you are doing you probably took a double take. What’s a Method Statement? What’s it for? Does it have to be complex? Am I giving commercial secrets away? How do I do one?
All a Method Statement does is enable you to help your staff and the main contractor understand and manage the extent of the risks involved in the work you are about to do so that you can ensure the resources necessary to do it safely are to hand and that everyone knows what to do in an emergency situation.
This enables both you and the main contractor to comply with Health and Safety and CDM regulations but more importantly it helps you both run a safer site by ensuring everyone is aware of areas of risk where accidents, if they are going to happen, will happen.
The Ten Point Rule was a simple ‘memory jogger’ that one of our clients, Bovis Lend Lease used with their staff on their BBC Headquarters site at Pacific Quays in Glasgow. I have found that whenever a Method Statement has to be produced this is an excellent tool to ensure I have captured all the relevant information so I can get it right first time. There are no second chances with Health and Safety!
Rule 1. Company, package, title, revision number & date
Rule 2. Description of the works to include
Rule 3. Resources required
* Plant & equipment
Rule 4. Assessment of significant risks for all tasks, including
* Access / egress
* Place of work
* Others at risk (i.e. the public)
* COSHH, noise, manual handling etc
Rule 5. Control measures to be used, including
* Special training
Rule 6. Personal protective equipment requirements
Rule 7. Emergency arrangements, including
* Special First Aid
Rule 8. Temporary amended systems
* Fire / security systems / access
Rule 9. To whom the information has / will be submitted, including
* Checking, review and update provision
* Change requirements
* Confirmation of Operatives briefing
Rule 10. Monitoring and compliance
Please feel free to copy or pass this safety article on to anyone who could find it useful.
Phil Dixon, Managing Director
Newlife Cleaning Systems Ltd
Hope these help.