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‘E-water’ – a better solution for disinfection? 21/10/2021

Traditionally, bleach and quaternary ammonium (Quats) disinfectants have been the most commonly employed by cleaning and disinfection companies. However, as Adrian Gee-Turner observed, the COVID-19 pandemic has re-focused attention on disinfectants and prompted users to start seeking assurance on issues such as effectivity against different pathogens, speed of action and handling safety. 

A CONNECTION between microorganisms and disease transmission was first established in a Vienna hospital in 1841, when the implementation of a hand-washing regimen resulted in a dramatic reduction in mortality rate among puerperal women. Today, the requirement for cleaning and disinfection is better understood, but the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of these important procedures. Nevertheless, it is important for cleaning staff to be aware of the difference between cleaning and disinfection. 

Cleaning is the physical removal of soil and microorganisms from surfaces, which may also involve the action of a surfactant, catholyte, detergent or water. Cleaning should be undertaken prior to disinfection because the presence of organic soil will reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants.

Disinfection is the process by which most or all of the pathogenic microorganisms are deactivated or killed. Internationally accepted standards have been created to define the levels of deactivation that are necessary for different microorganisms in different applications. Sterilisation refers to the process which kills all forms of microbial life, and is predominantly used for the decontamination of surgical instruments.

Professor Stephanie Dancer, a consultant microbiologist in NHS Lanarkshire and Professor of Microbiology at Edinburgh Napier University, advocates the physical removal of soil and pathogens rather than obliteration for routine cleaning, but accepts that there are circumstances where disinfectants are necessary. She said: “The challenge is to find a product that is effective, quick-acting, non-toxic to people and the environment; and, for the NHS in particular, it must be cheap. Electrolysed water (hypochlorous acid) is a potential choice for hospitals and other healthcare organisations.”

A wide variety of disinfectants are commercially available; the majority of which are toxic to both microorganisms and humans. This toxicity represents a safety hazard during use and storage, as well as, in some cases, an environmental threat. Interest is therefore growing rapidly in products that are able to deliver superior (verified) levels of efficacy, but without toxicity to users and the potential for environmental harm. Electrolysed water meets these requirements, but has not been universally adopted because past products quickly reverted to the original ingredients – salt and water. However, a small number of manufacturers have recently developed processes that have resolved this issue and it is now possible to purchase E-water with a 12-month shelf-life or longer.

E-water – what is it?
For the purposes of disinfection, the active ingredient of E-water is hypochlorous acid (HOCl) in an aqueous solution which is approximately pH neutral. It does not contain any substances that are hazardous to human health, so there are no COSHH requirements and no personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary when handling the ready-to-use liquid. The end products from the practical deployment of HOCl are salt and water.

The Hypochlorous Acid solution is manufactured by the electrolysis of a mixture of salt and pure water. Shelf-life and pH stability have been designed into the process, but the details remain commercially sensitive for obvious reasons.

The effectiveness of the market’s leading e-Water products has been tested according to international standards such as EN 1276, EN 14476 and EN 13704 against the most common pathogens, with most demonstrating impressive Log-6 effectivity against bacteria, Log-4 against viruses and Log-3 against spore-forming bacteria.

Hand washing, masks, social distancing and ventilation all performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as enveloped viruses, coronaviruses are relatively easy to deactivate, so surface disinfection was also highly effective.

Comparison with traditional disinfectants
It is very important to differentiate between e-Water (Hypochlorous Acid) and household bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite). Bleach formulations dissolve in water to create a dilute aqueous chlorine solution in which undissociated hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is active as the antimicrobial compound.

Bleach denatures protein in micro-organisms and is therefore effective at killing bacteria, fungus and viruses. As an irritant to skin, bleach can cause burns and serious damage to eyes. Inhalation of its fumes can harm the respiratory tract, and the correct concentration of bleach must be used to achieve effective disinfection.

Most bleach manufacturers claim 99.9% kill (Log-3) of harmful micro-organisms, so e-Water can claim to be one thousand times more effective. This means that bleach could be expected (in the right conditions) to reduce 1million colony forming bacterial units (CFUs) to 1,000 CFUs whereas a Log-6 disinfectant (such as e-Water) would be expected to reduce the same size colony down to just one single CFU. Bleach is therefore mainly suitable for the low-cost disinfection of non-porous, unpainted surfaces such as floors and toilets.

The impact of Quats

Quats are widely used in cleaning and disinfection product formulations. Quats are positively-charged (cationic) surfactants that can be effective against bacteria, fungi and enveloped viruses. They also provide detergent activity, so they are suitable for cleaning purposes, and are frequently included in the formulations of household and industrial products. 

The primary bactericidal mechanism is the disruption of membranes, and Quats are generally active against enveloped viruses such as coronavirus but not against non-enveloped viruses. As lipophilic sanitisers Quats are not very effective against single-stranded, non-enveloped RNA viruses, such as Norovirus, because they lack a lipid envelope to attack. Quats permit the survival of many Gram-negative organisms and heavy use would encourage predominance of species such as Pseudomonas. 

The activity of Quats can be adversely affected by water hardness, fat-containing substances, absorbent materials and anionic surfactants.  The labels of Quat products generally contain health warnings and since they contain hazardous substances, Quats represent a threat to the environment, so used containers should be incinerated or disposed of in an acceptable permitted waste disposal facility. 

Quats have become popular because they provide an opportunity to formulate disinfectants to target specific pathogens in specific applications, especially where detergent action is also required. However, given the limitations outlined above, e-Water represents a superior alternative.

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) for disinfection
Towards the end of 2020, Dr. Eric Rasmussen, Briotech's chief medical officer, made an application to the World Health Organization proposing the inclusion of Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) for disinfection, antisepsis, and wound care. In response, the WHO recommended further, larger clinical trials, but the submission contains information that is pertinent to this article:

HOCl has emerged in the current pandemic as the most potent and environmentally safe  disinfectant available and with a wide range of efficacy against many human pathogens, including  the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In recent years compelling evidence of the potency of pure,  stable preparations of HOCl in the inactivation of even the most resistant infectious agents, such  as BSE Prions and HPV16 viruses (both of which are completely unaffected by  disinfectants currently on the EML list) has made it clear that HOCl deserves a place in every  public health program as a fundamental instrument of infectious disease control.

HOCl solutions are already included in the WHO list of coronavirus-effective biocides, and in the US EPA ‘N’ list of disinfecting agents able to control emerging pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 More than ten branded aqueous HOCl formulations have been cleared by the US FDA for topical use in wound management over the last decade. A Class III medical product approval for HOCl has been granted in the EU, and the Japanese Ministry of Health has approved use of HOCl for topical medical applications. The US FDA has approved HOCl for high level disinfection and sterilization of medical instruments, including those for use at critical (i.e., sterile) sites.   

Block and Rowan in 2020 reviewed surgeons’ needs for disinfection in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and concluded that HOCl comprises many of the desired effects of the ideal disinfectant: it is easy to use, is inexpensive, has a good safety profile, and can be used to disinfect large areas quickly and with a broad range of bactericidal and virucidal effects.

Further applications for e-Water have also been investigated by Professor Dancer. For example, in 2015 working with researchers from Hairmyres Hospital in Scotland, the in-use effect of E-water on reusable transcutaneous oxygen sensors2 was evaluated on the feet of healthy and diabetic volunteers. The work found that exposure to electrolysed water removed original skin commensals and alleviated the risk of transmitting microbial flora without affecting test results. The paper concluded that the product is non-toxic, inexpensive and may be useful for decontaminating a wide range of equipment. Good surface disinfection with E-water was shown in both care homes and an acute ward at Hairmyres.

Summary
During the COVID-19 pandemic, awareness and understanding of the measures required to prevent disease transmission improved markedly. However, a return to ‘normality’ should not mean that we should reinstate traditional cleaning and disinfection strategies. Instead, we should take advantage of this new opportunity and refine procedures to optimise the protection of indoor areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use of HOCl in a wide variety of applications, and helped to raise the profile of this disinfectant. Infection control measures should maximise effectivity whilst minimising risks to cleaning staff and to the environment, therefore evidence is increasingly indicating that HOCl formulations with proven performance and a long shelf-life represent an excellent choice for cost-effective disinfection.


Adrian Gee-Turner is founder of L’Eau Limited. Adrian has a long career in healthcare equipment and managed the launch of the Nemesis eH2O brand of eWater prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information contact info@nemesis-eH2O.com

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Keeping our greenspaces clean and safe 18/10/2021

Dyl Kurpil explains why outsourcing environmental crime enforcement can not only release a financial burden on local authorities but also achieve behavioural change that delivers tangible community benefits.

THE NATION fell back in love with its urban green spaces during the Covid pandemic – but, from discarded face masks to the fouling of lockdown puppies, keeping these spaces clean and safe is creating a massive burden for local authorities that simply do not have the funds. 

With growing awareness of the value of green spaces to physical and mental health, how can local authorities break the cycle of littering and achieve an affordable solution to environmental crime enforcement? 

Littering, dog fouling, spitting and public urination are all criminal offences subject to Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), but inconsistent enforcement across the country over decades has eradicated standards of behaviour and complaints from the public continue to spiral. Yet small behavioural changes have a big impact: consistent, routine enforcement reduces littering. Awareness changes attitudes. Spaces stay cleaner, safer and more enjoyable for the community. 

Green space is essential

The importance of urban green spaces has long been established. The first city park was created in Preston in 1833, swiftly followed by an array of spaces across towns and cities to improve the unhealthy lives of city dwellers. Over the past five decades acknowledgement  of their importance to society, and as a result investment in these spaces, has steadily declined. Until the arrival of a global pandemic, when our parks became the only chance for outside exercise for huge numbers of people.

This uplift in awareness and usage also ties into more recent acceptance of the role of urban green space in improving physical and mental health, contributing to reducing crime and antisocial behaviour, encouraging community cohesion and environmental benefits, including clean air. With growing awareness of the value of rewilding and pollinator friendly habitats, local authorities are combining with voluntary groups to refocus on these vital resources.

Nevertheless, with UK local authorities facing a £3 billion budget deficit as the nation emerges from the pandemic, there is huge pressure on resources. How can a council prioritise clean green spaces? Yet, without proactive intervention littering, dog fouling and public urination will continue to undermine the safety and enjoyment of citizens.

Changing behaviour

Littering is a criminal offence, although the swathes of litter and dog mess affecting our green spaces suggests that many individuals have no idea that every cigarette butt, piece of chewing gum or apple core they drop is criminal behaviour. People either don’t know or don’t care that if they are caught leaving an entire loaf of bread for the pigeons or the ducks, urinating in public or spitting – both of which pose significant risks to public health - they will be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of up to £150.

Despite this, as the lack of consistency in issuing FPNs across the UK reveals this is a difficult service for local authorities to provide both culturally and financially themselves. It is hard to manage and difficult to resource. The resultant ad hoc approach fails to achieve the education and awareness required to achieve behavioural change and, essentially, stop people littering.

The alternative is to outsource environmental compliance, a service that can be cost neutral for councils. Turning to a trusted third party, that is driven by a desire to improve the quality and cleanliness of green spaces, is not just about authorising the outsourcer to issue FPNs in the area. It is about embracing a service that combines compliance with education and awareness to drive behavioural change.

Proactive community resource

Changing attitudes is key. Outsourced litter officers are trained to engage with offenders as customers, explaining why they are receiving an FPN or, in some cases, just a warning. With the right approach from officers, the majority of individuals typically respond with apology, embarrassment or confusion – it is the minority who become defensive, dismissive or, at worse, aggressive. As a result, FPN compliance can be as high as 90%, with few individuals opting to take the case to the Magistrate’s Court where, more often than not, it is the word of a known enforcement officer that is believed.

The underpinning goal is to reduce littering, which is why education and awareness are fundamental tenets of successful enforcement. In addition to local community campaigns and signage, officers also work closely with litter picking volunteers and take part in litter picks. The areas patrolled by officers are also intelligence led, with the routes created based on feedback and complaints from volunteers and general public about incidents of litter and fouling.

In addition, officers will be proactive. If there is a spike in litter from a local fast food provider, for example, the officer will talk to the manager and suggest ways to improve customer behaviour, such as new signage and more bins. Feedback is also provided to the council, raising problems such as inadequate litter disposal options or the need for more frequent bin emptying. 

Environmental determinism

By joining up the entire process and working with the wider community, an outsourced litter enforcement service can not only provide the council with important additional revenue, including a proportion of FPNs issued, which can be reinvested in environmental services, but also drive measurable behavioural change. 

Each individual change has a wider effect - the cleaner the space, the more likely people are to find a bin or take their rubbish home. When litter is everywhere, people feel less compunction about their behaviour. With the majority of FPNs issued to first time offenders – with limited numbers of repeat offenders - people’s behaviour changes fast. Each time a council can take a more robust, consistent approach to litter enforcement, overall levels of littering fall – not only in green spaces but everywhere, from the high street onwards.

By creating an environment where accidental or lazy littering is eradicated, the focus can shift towards the serious, repeat offenders – enforcement teams have the time and space to undertake the more complex investigations.

Conclusion

The difficulty for local authorities is making the move and deciding to trust a private sector outsource provider. This is where the attitude of the outsourcer is key. The company needs to be transparent about both processes and cost model. It needs to demonstrate that officers are not incentivised on the number of FPNs they issue, but that the business model stands up based on jointly agreed deliverables. And it needs to be part of the wider process of education, community engagement and taking a proactive approach to achieving behavioural change.

That change is long overdue. For too long the inconsistent strategies adopted by different local authorities have resulted in rising complaints about littering, dog fouling and fly tipping. Even at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic while some local authorities started to enforce FPNs for spitting due to the rapid spread of the virus, the approach was not consistent across the country.

Reliance is on dedicated teams of volunteer litter pickers. If the litter problem can be dealt with before it is dropped, our streets and our green spaces will be cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable for everyone.  And the burden for cleaning and maintaining these invaluable spaces will also reduce. Behavioural change is key – and that can only be achieved through consistent enforcement of the law.

Dyl Kurpil is managing director at District Enforcement, a specialist enforcement company offering environmental crime enforcement, parking management, moorings management and event control across the UK.​

For more information visit district-enforcement.co.uk/​​

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Sustainable cleaning in a post-lockdown world 18/10/2021

The world has been taking much bigger steps to go green over recent years to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis. Tim Bench says practising sustainability isn’t only good for the world, but also for people living on the planet right now, particularly in post-Covid times. Beyond that, it can also make your business more credible, help you attract the right talent and enhance your reputation.

TO BE successful, sustainable practices should be implemented in all areas of a business in all of the different departments. In this guide, we’ll go into detail about sustainable cleaning and the steps cleaning managers can take to improve sustainability and protect the health and well-being of other employees. 

Risk assessments and workplace health 

If you’re a cleaning manager, you’ll know how important it is to prioritise the health and safety of your employees. By closely examining the way that you use your daily cleaning schedules, you can help create a better environment for your workforce, all while making the effort to be more sustainable. Be smarter about how often you enact your daily cleaning schedules: ensuring that you are aware of what rooms and facilities have already been cleaned can enable you to cut down on unnecessary work and therefore reduce waste, as well as saving you time. 

One of the best ways to reach your sustainability targets is to create a clear and coherent strategy that makes it easier for your workforce to act in an eco-friendly manner. By raising awareness and promoting your strategy, more and more employees will be able to join you on the journey to working with the best environmental practices in mind. 

Create a healthier work environment

Another great way to inspire your team is to ensure that your work premises are cared for properly. A healthier workforce will be more likely to be motivated to join you in making a difference.  If team members can see that you’re taking big steps to make your premises safer and more environmentally friendly by implementing sustainable cleaning practices, it breeds a sense of workplace pride and they are more likely to make a better sustainable contribution too. 

Clamping down on high dust levels and making sure all areas are kept clean and hygienic will create a healthier work environment. You can also create a better, greener workplace culture by recycling as much as possible and avoiding the use of hazardous chemicals in your cleaning products and methods. 

Creating a green cleaning regime

When you’re overhauling your cleaning strategies to make them greener, you need to ensure the processes that you’re following keep environmental damage to a minimum. Before you implement a green cleaning strategy, it’s a very wise move to look closely at the cleaning products that you are currently using. Do these products contain harmful chemicals? Are they as effective at doing the job as other, greener products? 

You don’t need to change everything at once, but even just gradually replacing the harmful products you use will make a massive difference. Before you know it, you will have a whole range of sustainable and safe cleaning solutions at your disposal. 

What makes a great eco-friendly cleaning product? 

The best eco-friendly cleaning products tend to have biodegradable packaging. It’s increasingly common for packaging to be manufactured from eco-friendly bamboo, which can help you reduce your impact on the environment. The packaging of many green cleaning products is also made from recycled materials including caps and bottles. 

The materials used to create cleaning products can help you find out how sustainable they are.  If you have old brooms and vacuums that have failed to stand the test of time, you may wish to look into more durable, eco-friendlier options that will serve you well for years to come. Install recycled paper towels in kitchens and bathrooms - and where possible, look for reusable cloth options too to cut down on unnecessary waste.

Keep an eye on water usage 

Cleaning is often a water-intensive activity, but it’s always good to be aware of exactly how much you’re using in an average routine - you may be wasting much more water than you think when you carry out your daily cleaning duties. Make sure you’re only ever using as much as you need to fulfil your duties properly and make attempts to avoid unnecessary wastage where you can.

Working with the facilities manager, a great way to find out how much water you’re consuming unnecessarily is to have a water audit carried out. This will also help you identify previously undetected leaks, which can be expensive. Some water-saving equipment can seem expensive, but try to consider the amount you will save in the long run as a result of reduced water and energy consumption. 

All employees should be encouraged to turn taps off when they’re not using them, and your fellow cleaning staff should be encouraged to apply extra pressure when they are cleaning surfaces so they can avoid using more water than they need to. Putting a strategic water management plan together can help you create an eco-friendlier workplace culture. Flat mops can also help you reduce water waste, as can low moisture vacuum solutions. 

Bring energy-efficient appliances into your business 

If you’re not already using energy-efficient appliances, consider making the switch. With energy bills representing almost half of many businesses’ annual turnovers, it’s in your best interests to do more to reduce your energy consumption. When you start using energy-efficient appliances, you can save water and prevent harmful greenhouse emissions. Older appliances tend to consume much more power than new ones. 

Cleaning managers can carry out audits to identify where waste is occurring and determine the source of it. By inspecting your equipment regularly and checking for faults, you can prolong its life so you don’t have to make further purchases ahead of schedule. You can create a healthier environment by using HEPA filters to remove mould and dust from the air. 

Raising awareness of sustainability at wor

Your team is more likely to help you create positive change if you educate them on the importance of sustainability. Although team members may already know a great deal about sustainability, others may be lacking in knowledge. You can get your employees on board by making the process of going green a fun one that captures their imagination and allows them to see tangible results. There are lots of creative ways you can incorporate sustainability into your working day, like using initiatives such as competitions and rewards for meeting certain personal targets.

Let your employees see your latest reports on water and electricity consumption so they can see the change their actions are delivering. Encourage them to go paperless or at least use as little paper as possible, persuade them to recycle and ask them to avoid using excessive amounts of water. Once your employees get into the habit of avoiding waste, they are more likely to act in a more sustainable fashion outside of the workplace too. Small changes when it comes to sustainability make an enormous difference and prove how easy it is to make the switch to green living. 

Catering and sustainability 

Sustainable choices also need to happen on work breaks too, not just when you’re carrying out your cleaning routine. There are many changes you can make in the kitchen. It’s increasingly common for forward-thinking companies to encourage the use of recyclable disposable cups such as these by Galleon Supplies and reusable cutlery. It might also be worth setting up a washing-up rota for all the used mugs and plates after lunch so you can avoid running the water repeatedly, and therefore reducing your total waste. 

Carsharing has become very popular over recent years thanks to media exposure and helps you reduce the environmental impact of commuting. Ask around your team and get a carpool going. Another big benefit of this is that it can improve workplace morale by encouraging team members to interact with and get to know each other on a deeper level. 

Conclusion 

The impact of the climate crisis is already being shown and the simple truth is that action is needed to try and mitigate the damage that has already been caused. It means that the need for companies to be aware of sustainability is unlikely to slow down in coming years, with penalties for companies failing to act responsibly likely to get more severe. 

It doesn’t matter how small a difference you make - it will still have a big impact on limiting the effects of climate change. To be successful, everyone must work together and remember that doing something is always better than doing nothing. If all departments work together, a company can achieve its sustainability goals in no time at all. There is no better place to begin establishing these changes than in cleaning. 

Going green allows you to play your part in doing the right thing for the environment and means that your company can attract the most skilled young talent and reduce unnecessary energy costs. 

Tim Bench is owner of Galleon Supplies

For more information visit www.galleonsupplies.co.uk

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England's streets rife with discarded gum 18/10/2021

Around 87% of England’s streets are stained with gum according to research by Keep Britain Tidy.

THE GOVERNMENT'S recently updated Environment Bill faces scrutiny, as local authorities ask for urgent clarification on the timeframes for the suggested amended waste and recycling reforms. Additionally, the section in the bill surrounding the extended producer responsibility (EPR) has garnered attention from the Local Government Associate. The association is in favour of the idea that the producers of litter (e.g. retailers/manufacturers) must be held responsible for the collection of waste, in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. But, with the added expectation that producers are to pay the full net costs to councils. 

The Environment Bill and The Chewing Gum Task Force won’t be able to solve the litter problem on their own, argues Dyl Kurpil, managing director, District Enforcement.

The bill also encourages a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, which will “recycle billions more plastic bottles and stop them going to landfill. Its Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme will mean companies will be expected to cover the full cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging, and through the fees they pay, they will be incentivised to use packaging that can be recycled and meet higher recycling targets.”

Alongside this, the Government has introduced a new Chewing Gum Task Force to help clean up UK high streets. Chewing gum firms have promised to invest up to £10 million over the next five years to significantly reduce gum litter. Furthermore, this problem abuses around 87% of England’s streets which, according to research by Keep Tidy Britain, are stained with gum. 

There can be no disputing that litter is a problem. The producers of litter are increasingly being required by governments to consider their contribution towards a greener future. However, while this updated bill and task force is a step in the right direction, they only provide guidance, a principle or framework on how to improve. So, what can be done to encourage better behaviour and hold the correct people to account when it comes to litter?

Solving the problem, naturally, doesn’t happen overnight. Producers can be held to account and required to develop more environmentally friendly packaging, but more needs to be done to educate consumers about the seriousness of what litter actually is and why it is so problematic. Additionally, for those who do not alter their behaviour following education, a suitable level of sanction is also required. Whether through intentional act or wanton disregard, criminal culpability is a proven deterrent to littering (and other waste crime offences). The use of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) as a disposal for these types of offences allows for behavioural change without the need to burden the Courts.

Given the Government’s impetus with regards to sustainability, these moves form part of that bigger picture. But one of the challenges is that local governments are strapped for resources, both financially and in terms of manpower, to deal with the problem and deliver on both education and FPN-based enforcement within communities. As a result of this, there has been a widespread lack of consistency and understanding of how to truly deal with this problem. 

According to Kurpil, what is needed now is a consistent, replicable process of both education and enforcement, delivered in a cost neutral and ethical way – and recognition that engagement, awareness and behavioural change of the few benefits the many. 

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Registrations open for Cleaning Matters Live 19/10/2021

REGISTRATIONS FOR Cleaning Matters Live are now open. The digital conference, which incorporates The Cleaning Excellence Awards, takes place on 17 November 2021.

The conference offers delegates the chance to network with each other, as well as speakers and sponsors, via live chat or requesting a video call. Delegates can also Direct Message sponsors when accessing the on-demand service.

All attendees will also have access to the six-hour conference programme and will receive CPD points for their attendance. Cleaning Matters Live will also host the inaugural Cleaning Excellence Awards, which celebrate innovation and standards from across the cleaning sector. 

The conference includes talks from:

  • Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners 
  • The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) 
  • British Cleaning Council 
  • National Carpet Cleaners Association 
  • British Pest Control Association 
  • SmartTask  
  • Rubbermaid 
  • The Hygiene Bank. 


Cleaning Excellence Awards 
Following the presentations, the winners of the inaugural Cleaning Excellence Awards will be revealed. The Awards will be hosted by Alan Dedicote who is the voice of Strictly Come Dancing and The National Lottery. You can see the shortlist for the awards at https://cleaningexcellenceawards.com/shortlists 

You can register to attend any of these Digital Conference for FREE by clicking on www.cleaningmatterslive.co.uk

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How to keep workplaces safe as Covid-19 restrictions relax 18/10/2021

Planning the return to work as Covid-19 rules relax? Industar discusses what measures you should put in place, such as a phased return to work and one way systems.

OVER THE past year, many of us have worked from home or been furloughed from our pre-Covid jobs. The work from home guidance has ended, and a lot of us are now going into the workplace! Employers need to take hygiene seriously. Keeping staff and employees safe is crucial; to keep people healthy and help with anxious emotions people could be feeling.

Workplaces are legally required to put safety measures into place to manage the risk. The government has produced some guides about returning to work. There are guides tailored to different workspaces, whether an office or a warehouse. This is because one size does not fit all! Workplaces will need to take different approaches. This article will outline some of the main things employers need to do to keep workplaces and employees safe as restrictions relax.

How to make your workplace Covid-19 secure

Planning the return to the workplace

Employers need to talk to staff about the return to work after COVID-19. Keep your team updated and informed of the plans, any changes should be discussed. You should let every member of staff have a voice in how the company should handle the return. This will be a very anxious time for a lot of people, here are some of the main things to talk about with your staff.

  • When the workplace will open
  • When staff can expect to return to the workplace
  • If there will be a phased return to work, will some staff remain working at home?
  • The safety measures to be put into place
  • What the future of the workplace may look like

Carry out a risk assessment

It is a legal requirement for workplaces to complete a Covid-19 appropriate risk assessment before the return to work. You will need to follow the usual steps of a risk assessment, but this will need to be tailored to avoid Covid-19 risks. The importance of a risk assessment is to identify risks and outline what you will do to minimise these risks as much as possible. Here are some of the main Covid-19 appropriate measures to be considered:

Administrative control measures

This includes keeping equipment clean, changing the way tasks are completed and providing training to inform staff about Covid-19 safety measures. This also includes planning a phased return to work or monitoring who is in the building at what time.

Personal Protective Equipment

This is most effective if it is used correctly. PPE includes gloves, masks, and visors. You need to make sure the equipment is high-quality, or it may not work effectively.

Share your risk assessment

Employers need to share risk assessments with their staff. All employers over 50 employers are expected to share their risk assessment on their website. Sharing your assessment ensures that your staff feel safe and comfortable about the return to work. This also gives staff the chance to share their feelings about the return to work.

Decide who should return to the workplace

People who are high risk might not feel comfortable returning to work, so consider allowing them to work from home a bit longer. A phased return to work is a gradual process. An excellent way to do this is to enable essential staff back to work, and then everybody else later. For workplaces where staff work in confined spaces, a phased return to work is essential. 

Also, if a staff member wishes to remain working from home sometimes and get work done, consider letting them know if this is possible. 72% of people surveyed said they want to continue working from home because they get to spend more time with family and have a better work-life balance.

Put Covid-19 safety measures to put into place 

Social distancing

Staying two metres apart can reduce the risk of airborne transmission of the COVID-19 virus. If there are essential tasks at your workplace where this distancing isn't possible, PPE needs to be used. Make sure PPE is always available when and where needed.

Keep surfaces clean

Work surfaces, kitchen worktops, desks, every single surface news to be sanitised to help stop the spread of Covid-19. 

Did you know that Covid-19 can also be spread through dust particles? Studies have confirmed this, so it is crucial to keep your workplace dust free. You need to ensure you have a site vacuum. Industrial vacuum cleaners are more effective than high street vacuums, so investing in this can help stop the spread of Covid-19 in your workplace through dust particles.

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Sanitising stations

You need to ensure you are using a hand sanitiser with at least a 60% alcohol content, as these are the most effective at killing the virus. Place hand a hand sanitiser station at all high-traffic areas. Make sure the stations are easily accessible. Consider hand sanitising stations here:

  • Exits
  • Entrances
  • Toilets
  • Kitchens
  • Dining Areas
  • Desks

Put signs up

Signs are a great way to remind people to social distance, point out sanitising stations, and remind them about the use of masks. You can also use signs to set up one way systems and mark out 2 metres distance for social distancing.

Ask staff to wear masks

Some people are exempt from wearing masks due to health/personal reasons, and you can not force people to wear them. But for people who can wear them, encourage this. Masks are crucial when dealing with customers or a high volume of staff. Masks are not effective if not worn correctly; make sure all of your team know how to use them. They should always cover the nose and mouth.

Returning to work as COVID-19 rules relax is a highly anxious time for many of us, so take time to listen to any concerns your staff may have. Also, remind them of the safety measures in place and support their needs. 

Invest in good quality cleaning equipment

Many people don't realise COVID-19 can be spread through dust particles, so many workplaces focus on sanitising stations but forget to keep on top of the vacuuming at work. At Industar, we have a wide range of industrial vacuums for dust; contact Industar to find out more. Stay safe!

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Gary Fage officially installed as the new Master of WCEC 19/10/2021

THE WORSHIPFUL Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC) has announced Gary Fage as its new Master after his installation ceremony on Friday 17 September 2021.

WCEC members attended the installation ceremony at St Olave’s church as the mantle of Master was handed over from John Shonfeld. 

Gary has been a WCEC member for 20 years, and closely involved with most WCEC committees for the past three years. He was appointed the Master Elect by the Court of the Company last February.

He is particularly committed to supporting the WCEC’s newest programme, the Chartered Practitioners in Environmental Cleaning and said: “I’m so proud to be elected as the new Master of the WCEC.

"I will do as much as I can to build the momentum of its chartership programme to raise our industry’s standing, support our workforce, and build a recognised community of cleaning industry professionals that command the respect they deserve. The WCEC has an important role to play in making that happen for our industry.”
 
Gary has had a long and successful career in the cleaning industry, and is now the managing director of Janitorial Express and a director of Jangro Group. Gary brings with him a passion and commitment to cultivate more efficient and environmentally-friendly practices in the UK’s cleaning and hygiene industries. These elements already guide the direction of his own business, supplying eco-friendly cleaning products. He hopes to encourage his peers to embrace circular economy and C2C practices, ultimately growing a more sustainably focused culture within the cleaning industry.

To find out more about the Environmental Cleaners, or any of its initiatives or events, email clerk@wc-ec.com, telephone 01189 333606, or visit www.wc-ec.com 

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Cleaning Excellence Awards shortlist announced 19/10/2021

THE SHORTLIST for the Cleaning Excellence Awards has been announced, providing an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the most innovative products, services and individuals in the cleaning and hygiene sector.

From technological innovations and smart solutions, to sustainability and individual commitment, the awards celebrate standards of excellence throughout the professional cleaning and hygiene sector.

The Cleaning Excellence Awards will be broadcast on 17 November 2021 as part of Cleaning Matters Live, an unmissable new interactive digital conference for 2021.

The five categories and finalists are: 

Cleaning and Hygiene Team of the Year

  • Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Birkin Cleaning Services
  • The Churchill Group
  • The Francis Crick Institute
  • St. David's Housekeeping Team
  • Westgate Shopping Centre
  • Scottish Parliament Cleaning Team
  • Mitie Cleaning Team at Edinburgh Castle
  • Cleaning team at Coherant
  • Birmingham New Street Station
  • Network Rail
  • Mercedes-Benz World

 
Cleaning Operative of the Year

  • Carol Dewhurst - Indepth Managed Services
  • Pascoal Cabral - Landsec
  • Osman Abdi - W12 Shopping Centre
  • Tom Mais - Mitie Security Operations Centre
  • Konrad Olton - Phoenix
  • Jackie Ingham - Trinity Leeds
  • Elizabeth Hughes – Co-Op Head Office
  • Akosua Nyarko - Deloitte Callaghan Square

COVID-19 Response Award

  • Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Atalian Servest
  • East Anglia's Children's Hospices
  • The Churchill Group
  • Cleanology
  • Broadgate
  • White Rose Shopping Centre
  • Indepth Managed Services
  • Balmoral Hub
  • Essential Hygiene
  • STM Group (UK)

Innovative Product of the Year

  • The Churchill Group
  • Purevo
  • Kingdom Cleaning
  • Atmos-Clear

 
Sustainable Company of the Year

  • Smarttask
  • Purevo Hygiene
  • The Churchill Group
  • Cleanology
  • Mitie

In addition to the above, Cleaning Matters will be presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award. This prestigious award will be chosen by the Editor of Cleaning Matters and will be awarded to an outstanding individual who has made a tremendous contribution to their industry during their lifetime.

To view the shortlisted finalists visit: https://cleaningexcellenceawards.com/shortlists

For more information visit: https://cleaningexcellenceawards.com

Cleaning & Hygiene Team of the Year Award: This category is designed to recognise cleaning & hygiene teams that are making a significant difference in their workplace. The submission should demonstrate how the activities and initiatives implemented by the team since 1 January 2020 have helped to improve the hygiene standards and performance within either their own or a client organisation. Any accomplishments achieved prior to this date will not be eligible for entry.

Cleaning Operative of the Year Award: This category is designed to recognise an individual who made a significant contribution to the cleaning & hygiene standards within either their own or a client organisation. They must also have made a significant contribution to the introduction and promotion of standards within cleaning & hygiene.

Innovative Product of the Year Award: This category is designed to recognise products or solutions that have been developed for cleaning & hygiene. The products must have been launched since 1 January 2020. Any products or services launched prior to this date are not eligible for entry. 

Sustainable Company of the Year Award: This category is designed to recognise organisations that push the boundaries in an effort to create an environmentally friendly and affordable solution to an existing potentially polluting product. The judges will give credit for evidence of positive, value adding results that make innovative use of otherwise wasted resources, through; for example, the use of a previously regarded waste product into a new useful product. Initiatives will also be rewarded for addressing energy, water and general ecological footprinting as well as wider concerns around food and waste.

COVID-19 Response Award: This category recognises the extraordinary work that cleaning & hygiene professionals have undertaken with pace and professionalism at the frontline of the nation’s effort to combat COVID-19 and protect the public. It celebrates outstanding individuals or teams and the positive impact they have made in responding to unprecedented circumstances. The winning entry will encapsulate all the hallmarks of a high-performance individual or team and be an inspiration in and beyond our profession.

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Office door handles have 30 times more bacteria than toilet seats 19/10/2021

SOME AREAS of the average office can carry several hundred different contaminants and bacteria in just 10cm², according to new research from office furniture supplier Furniture at Work.

The research, in which Furniture at Work used a hygiene system commonly used in professional health environments, tested several areas of a busy office in order to discover the amount of relative light units (RLU), something that can be directly correlated with the number of contaminants and bacteria in an area. 

The area with the highest RLU reading was the door handle into the office, which came in at a reading of 648 RLU. This was followed by the office sink at 487 RLU and the microwave door at 408. To put these numbers in perspective, a test on the mobile phone of a member of staff gave a reading of 345 RLU and a test on a toilet seat produced a result of just 21 RLU. 

The areas with the highest RLU are as follows: 

Top 10 Office Bacteria Hotspots 

Area  Measurement (RLU) 
Office Door Handle  648 
Office Sink  487 
Microwave Door  408 
Mobile Phone  345 
Kettle  288 
Toilet Tap  239 
Office Chair  222 
Kitchen Fridge  195 
Desk Phone  193 
Keyboard  176 

As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted across the country and employees take their first steps towards a return to the office, the results show that some of the most commonly used areas in the office can be a higher risk than many may have thought. 

There is some good news however, when testing the personal computer equipment, results were comparatively much lower. A laptop only measured 56 RLU, and a mouse 150 RLU. A kitchen table only scored 2 RLU and a desktop 90 RLU, showing that cleaning procedures in these common areas are doing a good job of reducing the number of contaminants. 

A spokesperson from Furniture at Work commented on the findings: “As workers prepare to return to the office, many potentially with a feeling of trepidation, our research has helped to highlight the areas where employers must work hard to maintain hygiene and employees should be extra careful. The fact that a toilet seat carries 30 times less bacteria than a door handle proves why hand hygiene is still so important. 

“Even if we’re not just considering the risk of Covid-19, maintaining high standards of cleanliness is now more important than ever. These results should provide a good benchmark for employers and help reduce the chances of infection when back in the office.” 

Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist at Chemist Click also commented on the findings: “The typical hotspots for bacteria are where you would expect, such as kettles, door handles, fridges and toilets. If you have a lift in your office, the lift buttons are likely to contain large amounts of bacteria, as people wouldn’t typically wash their hands before entering the lift before reaching the office. Hotdesking is common in offices in recent times, so telephones and keyboards are also likely to harbour bacteria. However, recent times have seen our priorities change, and with the risk of covid, there should be extra precautions in place” 

The full Bacteria in the Office blog can be found here

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Thousands sign up for BICSc new online offering 19/10/2021

A NEW virtual training initiative, offering online courses for the professional cleaning sector, has been inundated by thousands of candidates worldwide signing up for the pioneering e-learning sessions. 

BICSc (British Institute of Cleaning Science) is celebrating the phenomenal success of its recently-launched BICSc Business Services Virtual Training Suite, which has seen an unprecedented number of candidates register to participate.

As the largest, independent, professional and educational body within the cleaning industry, Northampton-based BICSc announced within weeks of unveiling its comprehensive virtual training option, more than 5,000 students, nationwide and globally, had enrolled to access the range of courses.

The COVID crisis accelerated the need for qualified, competent cleaning operatives and highlighted how essential their work is in helping to minimise the spread of the virus. 

Michelle Iland, marketing manager at BICSc, said: “The pandemic has meant the benefits of cleaning and hygiene has been bought to the forefront of people’s minds. Cleaning Operatives are becoming more visible and, more importantly, more respected.  

“Part of the our mission is ‘to protect the operative’ and one of the best ways to do this is through professional training.  We are delighted that, for the first time, we’re able to offer online a range of BICSc accredited and certificated training courses, aimed at making training accessible to all and enhance our ongoing training options, including our in-person training.”

As BICSc celebrates its 60th anniversary, the organisation demonstrates how it continues to revolutionise the industry with ground-breaking innovation and leads the marketplace with pioneering developments, including the announcement of its new BICSc Cleaning Supervisor’s Certificate, which launches in September. 

Neil Spencer-Cook added: “We are extremely excited to announce the introduction of the BICSc Supervisor’s Certificate. This will be a 360-degree course and will be one of the most comprehensive courses for a supervisor within the cleaning and hygiene industry. It demonstrates how we continually review our training offering and always look for innovative ways we can make our training more accessible to all.”

Designed to be the ‘go to’ qualification for the industry, the new course aims to provide a robust and well-rounded knowledge for any supervisor of cleaning operatives. As BICSc most comprehensive course to date, it will consist of 10 modules, which can be completed over a 12-month period, allowing course candidates access to a breadth of more than 170 lessons. 

Go to https://bbs-virtual-training.thinkific.com/ to visit the BICSc Business Services Virtual Training Suite or contact a member of the team on +44 (0) 1604 678 710

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