The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning magazines. You can read recent columns below.
BCC Chairman says farewell after a proud two years
By BCC Chairman, Paul Thrupp
(This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in July)
When you read this column, there will be just a few days left before I step down as Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC), after two years.
It has been an immense privilege to hold this post and I am very proud of the huge amount that has been achieved by everyone connected with the BCC during my tenure.
All my predecessors have achieved great things over the years and have faced a whole range of different challenges however the last year has certainly thrown up some new ones for our team.
When I took up the position, in July 2019, it was with the aim of continuing to develop the BCC’s key priorities including making sure the voice of the cleaning and hygiene industry was heard at the highest levels and winning more recognition for our ‘invisible’ workforce and the importance of the sector’s work.
For the first nine or ten months, we worked steadily towards our goals. The BCC supported Thank A Cleaner Day in September 2019 as part of our drive towards getting better recognition for the sector.
During the autumn and winter period of 2019, we consulted with the Director of Labour Market Enforcement and we have continued to work with him since, making sure the sector’s voice is heard.
In early 2020, we spoke out for the first time against the impact of planned changes to immigration rules which could hamper the sector recruiting the overseas workers we rely on.
The key point here is that the authorities consider cleaning and hygiene operatives as being unskilled, which we in the sector know is not the case. The BCC has campaigned on this issue throughout my time as Chairman.
In March 2020, we released comprehensive research on the cleaning and hygiene industry which revealed for the first time its true size and scale, as one of the UK’s top ten sectors, employing 1.63m workers and worth over £54bn.
But then the world was turned upside down as the Covid-19 pandemic swept through the UK. This issue dominated the remainder of my term.
I am very pleased to have seen the sector win recognition for the crucial role it has played, and continues to play, in fighting the virus.
In spring last year, I was thrilled when cleaning and hygiene personnel were praised in Parliament. During the last two years we have all been asked to do a range of national media interviews on this topic.
Another key issue which the BCC has campaigned on throughout the pandemic is the need for all cleaning and hygiene industry staff and supporting personnel to be given key and essential worker status.
We also issued further research in autumn 2020, showed the huge impact the pandemic was having on the cleaning and hygiene sector.
One of the proudest moments of my period was seeing the establishment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry early this year.
The BCC is the secretariat for the APPG and we worked closely with industry partners to support its formation. It was particularly rewarding to see such strong interest from MPs and Members of the House of Lords.
Our APPG will play a key role in helping highlight the industry’s concerns over immigration, our desire for an industry-wide apprenticeship and our campaign for key worker status for all industry colleagues.
Also this year, I have been very pleased to see the Textile Services Association join the BCC, strengthening both our organisations.
The next BCC Chairman will be current Deputy Chairman Jim Melvin, the very experienced Group CEO of The Exclusive Services Group who is passionate about the industry.
He will be supported by a new Deputy Chair, Delia Cannings, another well-respected industry figure.
I wish them both the very best for the next two years.
Look for the CHSA logo to beat unscrupulous traders capitalising on the pandemic
Demand for cleaning and hygiene products, including hand sanitisers, gloves, soft tissue and aprons has soared in the coronavirus pandemic. It’s presented a golden opportunity to rogue traders. The challenge for buyers is to differentiate between the unscrupulous but apparently credible companies and those trading ethically.
Lorcan Mekitarian, Chairman of the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association explains the challenges facing buyers and offers some straightforward advice.
(This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in July)
When the coronavirus hit, the demand for cleaning and hygiene products escalated. Whether it was aprons, gloves, hand sanitisers, products for cleaning hard surfaces or soft tissue, people needed more, and they needed it immediately. The unscrupulous made the most of the opportunity. They created new businesses overnight, claiming expertise, knowledge and product excellence.
The UK hand sanitiser market has been described as a ‘wild west’, organisations with no relevant track record, turning to the production of alcohol hand gels.
Shiploads of products like masks and gowns have been rejected as not fit for purpose, a consequence of the increase in imported Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with fake or no CE marking. The CE certification mark indicates conformance with European Union health and safety and environmental protection directives.
There have been extraordinary claims about cleaning chemicals, including cleaning once with a hard surface sanitiser will keep a surface sterile for days. It sounds perfect, but it’s only true in laboratory conditions. New methods of application, including fogging and misting, have been described as the panacea but the evidence suggests they are more about cleaning and hygiene theatre. People need to look behind the headline claims. Every reputable supplier will be happy to provide data sheets, essential for understanding true product efficacy.
Faced with these claims, our advice ‘be cautious’. If you are a buyer of cleaning and hygiene products we recommend:
1. Be sceptical about product clams. It if sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask for evidence to back up the claims, obtain CE declaration and or any test reports to show conformance to specification.
2. Buy from a reputable supplier. Look for the CHSA logo and CHSA Accreditation Scheme stamp.
We operate Accreditation Schemes for manufacturers of paper-based and woven, plastic-based, and cotton-based products, and for manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene chemicals. We also operate an Accreditation Scheme for Distributors of cleaning & Hygiene products.
Every CHSA member has also signed our rigorous Code of Practice. It requires them to “maintain a high standard in the conduct of its business”.
The combination of our Code of Practice and Accreditation Scheme membership means every member:
• Trades ethically and sustainably;
• Provides quality, fit for purpose products; and
• Makes sure what’s on the box is what’s in the box.
Our commitment to standards is underpinned by Independent Inspection. An auditor, an experienced quality assurance professional, visits every member to ensure compliance. Site visits were challenging last year, but there was no let up. During 2020, he conducted 146 audits, equaling the number conducted in 2019. Members across all the Schemes achieved compliance of 93% or more.
Applications for membership soared since in the pandemic, new businesses trying to gain credibility. We know membership is a stamp of approval, so we are thorough in our process of accepting new members. We conduct compliance checks and require references. The inspector visits once they pass these initial checks. They are accepted as a member only once they have his approval.
If you want to buy from an ethical business with a respected track record in providing good quality cleaning and hygiene products, look for the CHSA logo and CHSA Accreditation Scheme mark.
Sign up for APPG Webinar Week
By British Cleaning Council Chairman, Paul Thrupp
(This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in June)
This month (June), we’ll be taking part in a week-long series of free webinars that will explore the work of the new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry and discuss some of the biggest issues that face our sector.
APPG Webinar Week, which the British Cleaning Council is providing in partnership with C&M magazine, will run from Monday 7 June to Friday 11 June and comprise four different discussions all looking at different aspects of the APPG’s work. The final panel session will answer your questions.
I urge readers to sign up for the free webinars and please submit any questions you have.
Just to fill in the background, the APPG was inaugurated in February and has the support of a sizeable number of MPs from all the major political parties and members of The House of Lords.
The group exists to promote the critical importance of the cleaning and hygiene industry to the public.
The establishment of the APPG for our sector is a huge achievement that promises to help ensure the cleaning and hygiene industry’s voice is heard at the highest levels.
The BCC acts in the role of secretariat and is organising a significant number of steering groups in seeking to carry out the industry’s clear, focused and much-needed strategic aims.
There is a huge amount of work going on around the key priorities, which include earning key worker recognition for all cleaning and hygiene operatives, creating an industrywide accredited training and apprenticeship scheme and raising our concerns over the impact of tighter immigration rules on the industry.
These webinars will a provide a chance to really discuss, explore and explain these key issues in-depth. They will be of interest to anyone working in the cleaning and hygiene industry.
The programme is as follows:
- Monday 7 June, 2pm: What is the APPG for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry? With Stephen Kerr. This session will give ageneral introduction to the APPG, how it works and the process for achieving reform.
- Tuesday 8 June, 2pm: The challenge of establishing key worker status for cleaning operatives. With myself, Paul Thrupp. I’ll be discussing the BCC’s long running campaign for all frontline cleaning and hygiene industry staff to be recognised as key and/or essential workers. The APPG has agreed to prioritise recognition for a ‘significant number’ of staff, which is a major step forward and will help raise awareness of the essential roles our personnel play.
- Wednesday 9 June, 2pm: Apprenticeships and training. With Delia Cannings, BCC director and National Lead for Education & Training, the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp). Delia will discuss the BCC’s aim to bring forward aproposal for a Cleaning and Hygiene Operative apprenticeship for the cleaning industry. A recognised apprenticeship and training accreditation for the industry will help us demonstrate what we in the sector already know, that cleaning and hygiene is an occupation requiring knowledge, skill and training.
- Thursday 10 June, 2pm: Brexit, immigration and employment. With Jim Melvin, Deputy Chairman of the BCC and Director, the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA).Jim will discuss how the APPG intends to review where immigration rule changes may impact the cleaning and hygiene industry. The BCC believes recent rule changes have made recruitment of staff from overseas harder and we don’t think the industry can make up the shortfall from UK residents long-term.
- Friday 11 June: Questions from the audience to the panel on these four issues.
Find out more and register at https://cleaningmag.com/c-m-online-events/appg-webinar-week or at https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/2021/05/12/appg-webinar-week-a-series-of-free-talks-about-the-appg-for-the-uk-cleaning-and-hygiene-industry/
Best practice for cleaning
By Simon Keeping, Managing Director of Kärcher UK & Ireland, Chair of Clean Sweep Hire, a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners and a member of ICMMA.
(This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in June)
It seems that, finally, cleaning has been recognised and given the importance it deserves. However, confusion exists over what is considered best practice for cleaning – what is cleaning? What should be cleaned? What is disinfecting? What should be disinfected? Can you disinfect without cleaning? Are misting devices an effective method for disinfecting?
Know the differences
- Cleaning removes pathogenic micro-organisms, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using a detergent and water to physically remove germs. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting kills pathogenic micro-organisms on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
- Sanitising lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting to lower the risk of spreading infection.
Cleaning alone typically removes up to 98.9% of pathogenic micro-organisms, whilst disinfecting removes up to 99.999%
Where is disinfecting required?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommend disinfecting high touch areas only, e.g. door handles, hand rails etc. For all other surfaces cleaning is sufficient. The NHS recommends that ‘Low-Risk’ areas or ‘Pathways’ do not require disinfecting and that NHS organisations ‘may choose to revert to general purpose detergents for cleaning’.
How to disinfect effectively
Even when disinfecting is required, the correct processes must be followed to ensure hygienic cleaning results. Cleaning with water and detergent is a necessary first step to remove impurities such as dust and dirt, only then can disinfection, the process that destroys and reduces the number of pathogenic micro-organisms, take place. It is required to thoroughly clean surfaces before disinfection, otherwise it is ineffective.
Fogging and Misting Devices
Fogging and misting applications have become popular as a visible reassurance of ‘cleaning in progress’. But questions have to be asked regarding how effective they are at disinfection and the role they play in the cleaning process. They may be easy to use and give the appearance of a ‘quick win’ but are no substitute for a robust cleaning and disinfecting regime and certainly do not justify some of the corner-cutting we are seeing in our industry. Disinfecting with fogging or misting devices simply cannot take place without cleaning first.
Steam offers an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of disinfectants or in areas where chemicals cannot be used. Steam also has the benefit of cleaning and disinfecting in a single application. Check that the manufacturer has the relevant certification proving their equipment is capable of disinfection. Ensure too that the correct steam cleaner is selected as, for example, moisture generating steam cleaners would not be allowed in hospital clinical areas where patients are present.
Never underestimate the value of training and the importance of robust risk assessments. Correctly trained operators with an awareness of the health requirements will ensure cleaning is completed safely. This includes their own safety and use of PPE, particularly in the current climate.
If you are responsible for the cleaning regime of your facilities, ask the question – are you paying for disinfecting in areas where it is not required? The long term impact of constantly disinfecting to the environment or people’s health is still unknown, so do not carry out such extremes where it is not required.
And remember – if disinfecting is required, it is absolutely necessary that thorough cleaning takes place beforehand to ensure the disinfection process is effective.