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Reflections on 2020 and what can we learn?

18 February 2021

Lorraine Larman reflects on the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on UK facilities - and what resources are now available to ensure properties' cleaning and hygiene strategies are maintained.

WELL, WHAT a year it’s been for all of us!  Some of us very busy, some of us not so busy, but it has been a steep learning curve. 

Fortunately, at Safety Solutions we have been terribly busy. We were requested to attend a campus to carry out a full system audit that combined cleaning, health & safety and compliance. The New FM knew there were issues, however, they needed a report from an independent company to take to the directorate.

A famous proverb states ‘you cannot judge a book by its cover’ which was true in this case, as when I meet with the heads of cleaning they said all the right things. However, upon deeper probing they could not evidence the training, audits and schedules. 

The first real insight to the issues were discovered at 4am on the morning shift. There was a lack of colour coding, a mish mash of equipment, lots of duct tape and old, dilapidated, machinery - most of which was not being used. 

It was obvious by the lack of method to the cleaning that there had not been adequate cleaning task training, which would have been picked up earlier if audits had been undertaken and monitored. 

When looking in the cleaning cupboards on the campuses, there were many areas that could be improved. Overall, there were 264 different chemicals and a lack of MSDS and COSHH Assessments. 

Upon looking at the cleaning cupboards, I knew that I needed to work with the management to give them the skills and training on how to audit chemicals and machinery. 

So, it was back to basics - I was lucky that the facilities manager and their director understood just what a big mountain we had to climb and the investment that was required. 

It was the next month that the first lockdown started, this brought its own issues obtaining chemicals, PPE, the correct sanitising gel etc. 

We began by streamlining the chemicals, looking at machinery that would benefit the cleaning, introducing audits, schedules and training the staff on the job. 
Due to the pandemic, we were having to change our strategies as we went along.

The biggest change was when the students came back. I was then asked to project manage the setting up and running of four COVID-19 testing centres on site. 

The project was a long and detailed project – starting with retraining, introducing new equipment, and auditing and new working practices. Due to the hard work and co-operation – the campus went from an unhygienic campus to a hygienic campus with a knowledgeable, highly trained team.  


How clean is your building and how can you PROVE it is clean?
At Safety Solutions, we offer ATP Swab testing to test the cleaning standards in your building.

ATP monitoring is a reliable, rapid testing method, used to assess the cleanliness of surfaces. All organic matter contains ATP, including food, bacteria, mould and other microorganisms such as virus’. The detection of ATP on a surface or in water, therefore, indicates the presence of biological matter that may not otherwise be visible to the eye.

By swabbing an area of your building and using a luminometer, it's possible to test the level of ATP and produce a result in seconds.

Areas that can be tested
Any area of your building that is accessible can be tested. The most popular testing areas are washrooms, showers, kitchens, touch points, lifts, desks and IT equipment. In industries where cleanliness is critical, ATP testing is an excellent tool for detecting and measuring biological matter that should not be present after cleaning.

Reasons to carry out regular testing will prove to you and your clients that they have a clean and hygienic building:

  • Analysis safety levels with scientific testing and report
  • Random testing either weekly of monthly as a part of regular audit
  • Note process and outcome evidence into court ready certification
  • Empowers your daily cleaning teams to maintain standards
  • Repeat on a planned, periodic basis to demonstrate best practice. 

Exciting industry news 
It has been a long time coming but at last the industry is being acknowledged as key workers in the fight to reduce the spread of the pandemic. The main bodies of the industry have come together and after a lot of hard work we have an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the cleaning and hygiene sector. 

The inaugurated meeting was on Tuesday 2 February, where a total of 53 MPs and three Members of the House of Lords joined the group, making it one of the bigger and most credible APPGs.

Members of six parties are taking part – the Conservative, Labour, Scottish National Party and Democratic Unionist Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats – and participants include some of the most prominent Parliamentarians in the country, such as the former director of Age Concern, the Baroness Greengross, OBE, the former Chancellor, the Rt Hon The Lord Lamont of Lerwick and the former CEO of Mitie, The Baroness McGregor-Smith.

At the inauguration meeting, MPs elected Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley, and The Baroness Greengross as co-chairs, and agreed on vice chairs and the make-up of the committee which will run the group.

The British Cleaning Council is sponsoring the APPG. Chairman Paul Thrupp and deputy chairman Jim Melvin addressed the group at the inauguration. The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaner (WCEC), British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc)  and the Cleaning & Support Services Association) CSSA are also supporting this initiative.

This group will be the next step to obtaining recognition and respect that everyone in the industry deserves -  our faceless army that come in and out of our building keeping everything clean and safe deserve this recognition. Cleaning Matters is fully supporting the APPG, so to keep up to date, be sure to visit www.cleaning-matters.co.uk

GBAC STAR programme 

Hopeful we will begin to emerge from this pandemic and buildings will start to open, but there is a nervousness around this. ISSA has an accreditation called GBAC STAR Accreditation Program on Cleaning, Disinfection, and Infectious Disease Prevention for Facilities (GBAC STAR Program), based on a programme of 20 elements.

Buildings in America are able to open up stadiums as they can prove they have obtained have the protocols in place to keep them selves and the public safe. 
Further information can be found at gbac.issa.com/issa-gbac-star-facility-accreditation/ 

GBAC STAR will enable facilities to: 

  1. Establish and maintain a cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention program to control and/or minimise risk associated with infectious agents such as SARS-CoV-2 (responsible for COVID-19 disease) for employees, customers, clients, visitors, the community, and the environment
  2. Provide assurance and establish confidence that proper cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention work practices are in place and implemented
  3. Establish a framework for communication and raising awareness of best practices as they relate to cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. 

GBAC STAR establishes requirements to assist facilities in their cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention work practices to control risks associated with infectious agents. It is performance-based and sets out requirements for and places responsibility for facilities to demonstrate that appropriate cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention work practices, protocols, procedures, and systems have been established and implemented. 

GBAC STAR is designed such that any size facility or organisation can use it and it is considered scalable.

Lorraine Larman CMIOSH FBICSc I.C.E is managing director at Safety Solutions. A member of BICSc over 15 years, Lorraine restarted the London & Home Counties region of BICSc in 2005, which is now a thriving region with many events throughout the year. In 2013 she was made a Fellow of the Institute. Lorraine also became a member of the Worship Company of Environmental Cleaners and received the Freedom of the City of London. 

For more information visit lsafetysolutions@outlook.com Tel : 07984 689269