The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning magazines. You can read the latest columns below.
Cleaning and hygiene sector briefs APPG on key industry issues
(This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in May)
By Jim Melvin, Deputy Chairman, British Cleaning Council
The APPG for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry held its first major event last month since its inauguration to discuss the sector’s role in restoring the public’s confidence post-Covid with regard to the use of work and public spaces.
It highlighted the important role sector personnel have played in fighting Covid-19 and gave the industry’s expert advice on what steps need to be taken in terms of cleaning and hygiene as the country recovers.
This is the first opportunity the sector as a whole has had to speak directly to MPs and Peers in detail on issues that are important to both the Government and our industry, resulting in a fascinating, thoughtful and well-informed discussion with an expectation to influence Government policy.
I was on the panel, along with BCC directors Delia Cannings, of the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals, and Kim Phillips, of the Association of Building Cleaning Direct Service Providers.
We were joined by senior industry people including Deborah Bland of Diversey, Dave Fuller of Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene, Dr John Hines of SC Johnson Professional, Darren Marston of Industrial Cleaning Equipment Ltd and Jason Towse of Mitie.
A number of MPs took part, which with guests brought total attendees to over 60.
On the importance of communication in restoring the public’s confidence, Jason Towse spoke about using signage and visible cleaning operatives to reassure visitors. “There is nothing better than seeing things done,” he said.
The need for improved labelling so the public can differentiate between effective hand gels and those being produced by unscrupulous pop-up companies that don’t protect from pathogens, was discussed.
One topic mentioned by a number of speakers was the need for the public to continue to behave responsibly with regards to personal hygiene and social distancing as they have an important part to play in reassuring people that hospitals and supermarkets, for example, are safe to visit.
I was involved in advising how cleaning continues to be vital in preventing the spread of the virus, despite claims to the contrary. Expert reports continue to say that transmission from surfaces is a ‘distinct possibility’, particularly if an infected person has coughed or sneezes before touching surfaces. Official advice both in the UK and the US continues to be that cleaning is essential. As John Hines said, targeted cleaning is at the heart of the fight against Covid-19.
The panel agreed that we must ensure the public continues to practise good personal hygiene as lockdown eases, if we don’t want another spike. The growth in wearing masks and improved hand washing has also helped reduce illnesses such as colds and flu. As APPG Chairman Nigel Mills MP said, an important message going forward is that being clean and hygienic is good for yours, your family’s and the community’s health.
Towards the end of the discussion, I was asked about some of the key things we had learnt during the pandemic. One is the importance of the role played by the cleaning and hygiene sector and its workforce. Cleaning operatives have been bravely going to work throughout the pandemic and now is the time for them to be fully recognised and thanked.
A major theme was further education and training for cleaning and hygiene personnel. Delia Cannings called for the Government to support and recognise our ‘environmental ninjas’, as she called them, through education and training.
Darren Marston finished off by highlighting the role of innovation in developing products that enable the demand for higher standards of cleaning to be met.
We will now regroup and look at actions and next steps. I would take this opportunity to thank the MPs and panel, guests who virtually attended and Stephen Kerr, who both facilitated and controlled the flow of the meeting in such an excellent and professional manner.
Training – a vital lesson after the pandemic experience
(This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in May)
Dave Wheadon, CEO of the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA) explains why professional training and development will continue to be priorities in the cleaning industry going forward after the pandemic.
There is no doubt that the cleaning industry has experienced its most challenging professional test in living memory during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it has highlighted the value that we as an industry bring to society, and how as professionals, the responsibility is ours to maintain the highest cleaning standards. This is only achievable through consistent and high-quality professional training.
During the pandemic there were many cleaning companies claiming to be ‘experts’ in various disciplines. We now know that this was not entirely true in many cases, but merely opportunism. The type of cleaning required, especially during a health crisis, must be exemplary. This kind of excellence is only achieved with the right knowledge acquired through targeted training.
At the NCCA, we believe in the value of measurable professional standards, working to a code of practice and most of all, the pursuit of continuous professional development. To be taken seriously, techniques must be effective whilst offering assurances to our clients that they are receiving the best service.
As part of our ongoing commitment to maintain standards in our particular expertise, we recently achieved CPD (continuous professional development) status for our carpet and upholstery cleaning course – which also forms part of the entry requirement to the Association. The CPD certification elevates our members’ standing and distinguishes them as correctly trained professionals.
The main difference in the NCCA approach to training, is the type that we offer. We believe in teaching the science of cleaning, rather than focusing on how to use one product at a time.
Knowing the fundamental causes of specific soils and how to treat them is often the differentiator between being able to remedy them or not; it doesn’t just depend on what machine one uses. Therefore, we teach using a generic approach which provides a much surer footing for technicians. After all, a wider knowledge base facilitates more successful outcomes.
The product-specific approach is limited for different reasons. For example, if a technician has to swap tools or machines, having only been trained on one type, they will come unstuck very quickly. Our training covers various processes and machines because a technician will have to deal with various types of carpet and soft flooring. They all require their own respective cleaning methods to avoid causing damage.
Just because someone has procured a carpet cleaning machine and a rotary, it doesn’t mean, by any stretch, that they are qualified and able to do the job at hand. An inadequately trained person, or persons, can wreak untold damage to clients’ carpeting, and upholstery, by using incorrect chemicals and technology on any given material.
As we look ahead to people returning to work on site, it is vital that commercial spaces are deep cleaned to a standard that ensures the safety of the occupants. A trained professional will also know how to design a maintenance programme for their client that will sustain the level of cleanliness required for maximum hygienic standards. In the wake of the pandemic, this has become more important than ever.
Therefore, as an industry, we must work together to keep our standards high in our respective disciplines, maintain the momentum on training, and send the professionals out into the field to ensure our built environment is safe. With our current hygiene needs, there’s no room for improvisation on the job.
For more information about the NCCA, please visit https://ncca.co.uk/