Clean offices, schools, airports, public facilities and commercial properties must be cleaned properly now more than ever. That’s because a COVID-19 outbreak can easily shutdown a business, school or university for week’s at a time, risk someone’s life, and even open up the possibility for that facility to be embroiled in a lawsuit.
According to Chris Turlica, CEO of MaintainX, here are five steps every cleaning department or company can take to get the most out of their cleaning programs and help put their clients and the people they serve in the best possible situation.
1. Establish Routines
A facility manager or owner of a cleaning company can’t simply assume that its staff will consistently hit all those high-touch areas, or use cleaning equipment in ways proven to reduce viral load — they need to make sure they have a schedule, a checklist, and up-to-date instructions that cover everything they need to know.
2. Enforce Routines
The problem with cleaning procedures, of course, is that they’re easily ignored, especially during times of stress and disruption. Keep checking in with cleaning staff to make sure they’re sticking to the plan, and find ways to keep them engaged while they walk their routes. Digital tools offer one solution to that: a tablet that pings and beeps is harder to ignore, and can offer location or time-based reminders to ensure that nobody’s slipping up or cutting corners.
3. Identify New Problems
In the midst of a pandemic, sticking to a regular cleaning routine is table stakes. The real challenge, though, is identifying and responding to new cleaning problems in real time, especially as top-down safety management becomes critical. Let’s say a worker gets diagnosed with COVID-19: the business or building you service need to quickly identify all the spaces they’ve used and all the surfaces they’ve touched, much like the person-to-person contact tracing that health workers use to break transmission chains. Facility managers and cleaning businesses may even need to identify airflow patterns in order to figure out which equipment and spaces need to be disinfected.
4. Document Everything
It’s not enough to keep things clean. In the COVID-19 era, we need a paper trail — or, better yet, a digital trail — to show that workstations and high-touch areas have been properly cleaned and disinfected. We’ve already seen factories grind to a halt because workers fear spaces haven’t been properly cleaned. To head off such problems — or, worse, the threat of liability lawsuits if workers or customers claim they were infected at the facility cared for by a facility manager or cleaning business — managers need to be able to demonstrate exactly what’s been cleaned, when, and how. Even if liability shields are implemented, clients will need to document their adherence to a clear and sufficient standard of care to avoid negligence-based lawsuits and worker’s comp cases, so it makes things easier for them when this information can be provided.
5. Communicate Effectively
They say you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and that’s true — but it’s also true that without proper metrics, a facility manager or cleaning business won’t be able to convince anyone that the facilities it cleans are safe to use. After documenting cleaning processes effectively, facility managers and cleaning businesses need to figure out how to talk about it to their stakeholders. That means their customers, of course. But it also means their own custodial staff — because it’s only by communicating effectively and in real-time with their cleaning crews that facility managers and cleaning businesses will be able to identify and resolve problems, and ensure morale and engagement stays high.