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.
An update on the sector’s APPG inquiry
By Jim Melvin, Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC). (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in October).
There are two opportunities this month (October) for Cleaning and Hygiene industry members to watch the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for our sector conducting its inquiry into the role of cleaning and hygiene, and the associated challenges, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first session, which looked at the issue from a public health angle, took place in September and the following two sessions were also due to happen last month, but they were postponed following the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
This hugely important inquiry is being held by the APPG for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, which consists of MPs and members of the House of Lords, and it is a chance for policymakers to hear first- hand the expert opinions of colleagues within the industry who were on the frontline dealing with the pandemic.
The aim of the ‘Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK’ review is to find out what lessons can be learnt to help the nation deal with any future variant or new pandemic, which is almost certain to occur at some future date. Key findings will be part of a report submitted to the Government’s national UK Covid-19 Inquiry with an industry roundtable looking to implement the findings.
The BCC, as the secretariat for the APPG, is both leading and supporting the inquiry and we are delighted to have the backing of the prestigious charity and campaigning group, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).
The first session heard from two leading experts in the field of public health, Dr Lisa Ackerley, Director of Medical and Scientific Engagement, Hygiene at Reckitt and Professor Jim McManus, President of the UK Association of Directors of Public Health and Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire.
Dr Ackerley spoke in detail about the importance of targeted hygiene measures in controlling pathogens.
Hand and surface hygiene was an essential tool for breaking the chain of infection, she said, if it was implemented at the right place, the right time and in the right way.
Professor McManus described the work of Hertfordshire County Council during the pandemic.
In his expert view, the country had been unprepared and official guidance hadn’t always been effective, he said, but a lot went well in the county, where using a systems approach and working with partners was key, he added.
There was a huge amount to digest and learn from this first session and so a huge thank you to Dr Ackerley and Professor McManus.
I would like therefore to invite colleagues in the industry to watch the next two sessions.
The second session is on 11 October. It will hear from contractors who delivered cleaning services at the time, alongside suppliers and manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene products which were very much in demand during the pandemic.
I will be speaking myself and I will inform MPs on a number of key points.
Among them, are the need for the Government to recognise the vital and essential role of the sector and staff in keeping people healthy, safe and well.
Following on from that, the Government must begin to have regular, strategic discussions with the industry about issues such as hygiene standards and procurement.
I’ll also be calling for help with recruitment and support in the areas of training and skills, including accreditation for the bid for an industrywide apprenticeship and training qualification.
The final session will be on 18 October and feature owners and landlords of a variety of buildings who had to deliver high standards of cleaning and hygiene during the pandemic, in order to protect the public and indeed stay open.
All sessions start at 10am. Please email email@example.com in advance to watch.
Safety and hygiene in the wee room
By Raymond Martin, Managing Director of the British Toilet Association (BTA). (This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in October).
In the aftermath of the last pandemic, we’ve all seen a host of changes in our everyday activities. Hand-gel dispensers are still in operation in many retail outlets, hotels and civic buildings and we experience a considerable number of people still wearing masks in crowded spaces.
Hygiene has become an everyday essential for companies and service providers across the country and the public are demanding that more care and protection is provided to shoppers and visitors. This is particularly relevant in public spaces and publicly accessible toilets. Whether they are provided for by the local councils or sympathetic business owners we have all become more diligent in what we touch or handle. This poses a significant problem for cleaning operatives who have to learn and understand new methods of making and keeping surfaces hygienically clean for the users.
In the last few years we have seen many toilets being upgraded to include “touch-free” taps and soap dispensers as well as flushing units. Infra-red door and lighting sensors have taken away the pull-cords and push plates that carry so many pathogens and dirt particles. In a few specialised cases the installation of an automatic wash/dry toilet bowls have raised more than a few eyebrows.
The latest technology to be introduced is the contactless door entry systems where you offer up your debit/credit card to a scanner and the door or barrier unlocks to give you access. These new systems bring with them a number of safety features in addition to the hygiene factor; as they have proven to greatly reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour and vandalism that has been growing in recent times. It’s extremely difficult to keep vital toilet units in full working order; particularly when you’re faced with reduced staff/resources, so this type of technical solution is being embraced by many suppliers and providers to keep the public safer and the toilets functional for longer.
We’re already witnessing the next generation of security devices such as video, smartcard QR codes and sensory devices that could be used to enhance the user experience. Hand washing has been highlighted as an area of concern with estimated figures of only 40 per cent of males and 56 per cent of females regularly washing after a visit to the toilet. Many now carry their own hand sanitising fluid but this isn’t a full substitute for proper hand washing with soap and hot water. The tremendous increase in the use of toilet tissue to pre-clean the toilet seat and surrounding sanitary ware has some stall holders reaching for seat sanitiser units to eradicate the discarded tissue being left on the floors.
The number of persons using ostomy bags and sanitary supplies has risen enormously and we are becoming more conscious of the need to provide sanitary bins in both female and male toilets. Perhaps we’ll see the re-introduction of “digital” vending machines to service these customers.
We all know what a good toilet looks like – we each have one in our own homes. It’s all about the management and control of these spaces and there’s absolutely no reason for any publicly accessible toilet unit to not be hygienically cleaned and serviced regularly. The abuse of the RADAR key system means that, particularly, accessible toilets are often not available to disabled users when they need them. So we welcome the new innovations that are creeping into our essential facilities. The whole industry seems to be embracing the introduction of these new wireless scanners and digital locking devices and will hopefully help us keep our public toilets open and ready for the next customer / pandemic or safe from the daily attacks of vandals and those abusing substances.