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Is your cleaning company investing enough in training and auditing?

Is your cleaning company investing enough in training and auditing?

Tony Sullivan, the Environmental and Decontamination Services Manager for the NHS Deep Cleaning and Advisory Service, reveals why training and auditing are essential procedures not only for private businesses, but for cleaning companies themselves

From the recent global Coronavirus pandemic and the 2002-2004 SARS epidemic, to localised norovirus outbreaks, we have never been more informed on the role cleaning plays in stopping the spread of infection.

Contracted cleaning companies play a hugely important role in this. They are vital in undertaking deep cleaning processes to ensure that our public spaces – from office buildings to shops, restaurants to theatres – are safe and hygienic environments. They are also often a much more cost-effective way of undertaking cleaning processes, as many businesses continue to deal with the financial implications of the pandemic.

This is why it’s extremely important for cleaning companies up and down the country to have as much support and guidance as possible, as there are still many cleaning myths out there. From using products that claim to kill Coronavirus for 30 days after application, to not knowing the common touchpoints in a building, misinformation can spread as fast as the viruses we are trying to protect people from.

For businesses that are welcoming back their staff and the general public, we have a responsibility to get this right. So, how do organisations know they have received a high standard of cleaning? And how can we bolster the already valuable work of our cleaning contractors?

This is where standardisation, auditing and assurance services, and training comes in.

Standardisation

Anyone looking to buy bleaches and other disinfectants should check that the product uses registered chemicals, to ensure they will not be harmful to human health, and can actually deliver the level of disinfection they claim.

Additionally, disinfectant only protects a surface or room against Coronavirus until the next person walks into the room or touches the surface, and then immediately the integrity of the room is compromised. Regardless of product or company claims, a one off deep clean cannot keep surfaces free of Coronavirus for, say, 30 days. Organisations should instead be investing in a service that helps them maintain a certain standard of cleanliness.

Standardising both the cleaning processes and the materials used by cleaning companies would not only help reassure business owners and the public, but also the cleaning companies themselves that their processes are of a consistently high standard.

Audit and assurance

To understand where the key challenges are in the first place, an audit is an essential way of measuring this. As you may be aware, audits are thorough investigations which can catch easily-overlooked areas that are not being cleaned properly, but they can also provide essential assurance to businesses and organisations that their spaces are clean and safe for the people in them.

Risk assessments allow for the creation of bespoke environmental management plans, while also reviewing Control of Substances Hazardous to Health procedures, the quality of work, suitability of current cleaning equipment and the standard of the previous training undertaken by the cleaning team.

Training

Education is always the best place to start when it comes to best practice. Key areas, such as: the application of cleaning solutions; optimum touchpoint cleaning; the wearing and disposal of PPE; and effective disinfectants, are just some of the areas where common mistakes can be made, which could have a huge bearing on the health of those in the premises.

While audits are essential in understanding what work has been done before, training will ensure that practices are aligned going forward.

For the first time in England, the Royal Society of Public Health has accredited a training course for domestic cleaning, which is provided by the NHS Deep Cleaning and Advisory Service. The Service continues to work with a number of local and UK-wide cleaning and facilities management companies to provide the accredited training ahead of deep cleaning services being delivered.

In practice, this has been invaluable to many contracted cleaning services. Wetton Cleaning Services Ltd is a nationwide cleaning and support services company which chose to undertake the training offered by the NHS Deep Cleaning and Advisory Service. Not only did this strengthen their Coronavirus Sanitising and Prevention Cleaning offering, it was another way of reassuring their clients in the quality and high standards of their service, as they welcome back staff and users.

If we continue to elevate the standard of domestic cleaning in public spaces across England, we will help reduce the number of hospital admissions from bacterial and viral diseases and will be better prepared to manage infection outbreaks in the future.