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Stan Atkins FBICSc Comments on Providing a Safe & Clean Working Environment - Education, Membership and training within the cleaning industry | BICSc

"The conditions of the built environment are mainly determined by the original finishes, fixtures and fittings. Often lifetime costs and cleanability are not considered at the construction or fit out of a project. Although I love buildings and architecture, I often wonder if Sir Norman Foster or Richard Rogers ever considered how their buildings would be cleaned safely. The definition of a safe environment can vary greatly depending on the particular facility and the use the area is put to.

Hygienic is often associated with safe although the infrastructure affects both safety and hygiene as much as the correct cleaning regime. In health care, for example, air conditioning and water treatments have a major impact upon patient safety. Both these functions within Mechanical & Electrical also have a dramatic effect on users of commercial buildings as well as lighting etc. However, in facilities where the users, occupiers or visitors are at risk due to their medical conditions and age grouping, a safe environment from the cleaning and hygiene perspective is essential. Healthcare is an obvious facility but just as essential is facilities such as infant nurseries, educational buildings, community care centre’s and cruise ships.

The correct use of initial materials will make the cleaning operation more efficient. For example the choice of flooring will have a major impact upon the cleaning operation. The use of carpet within a healthcare setting would not be suitable in all areas and where carpet is the preferred finish a strict maintenance regime is required that would inevitably increase the lifetime cost of maintenance. In certain instances this may be desirable but all the prevailing factors need to be considered and calculated prior to a decision being made. In new buildings another crucial factor is the wall to floor interface e.g. skirting boards, the smoother and more seamless the interface the easier the cleaning operation. Touch-point finishes may benefit from an anti bacterial surface or ongoing treatments.

Faced with the finishes in the building that we often inherit the correct use of chemicals and machinery is paramount and control of the areas within a building needs to be supervised. For example a multi-tenanted facility may have national and international companies occupying areas; these companies may have their own chemical and machine suppliers. This in itself is not a problem but if the areas occupied by these companies have not been fitted out by them or the communal areas (landlord areas) immediately abut the tenant’s area care should be taken in the choice of chemical. In the example I am thinking of, a concession within the landlord’s premises were occupied by a multinational retailer who mopped their floors with a slightly acidic chemical and overtime this would have had a very adverse affect on the landlord’s marble flooring! 

I will return to my ‘bet noire’ - colour coding this most basic of all cleaning methodologies helps prevent cross-contamination thus it is a major factor in providing a clean and safe environment."

Stan Atkins FBICSc

Cleaning & Maintenance, July Issue 2014 



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