Misunderstandings and errors can easily happen even if a BSC believes every detail of a contract has been addressed. Seal recalls one example where problems could have been avoided if terms were depicted. 

“A contract called for ‘daily vacuuming,’ but it did not spell out when or how. A day porter was provided in the contract. The contractor planned on standard A, B and C area vacuuming to be performed nightly. A areas were to be vacuumed daily, with B and C areas vacuumed less often,” says Seal. “Then, a day worker complained because the day porter never vacuumed litter during the day.”

As a result, the BSC instructed the day porter to vacuum litter. Day workers once again complained, this time about the noise of the vacuum and the trip and fall hazard of the cord. The contract was eventually renegotiated, using task-specific job cards as the basis of understanding.

This example uses vacuuming, but the lesson can be applied to chemicals, too. If a contract says surfaces will be cleaned, it doesn’t include the extra time and labor required for disinfecting. Similarly, if surfaces don’t need to be disinfected, less time — and money — will need to be spent. 

“I recall numerous times when a facility manager said, ‘clean and disinfect’ the restrooms when ‘clean and sanitize’ would have been a more accurate request,” says Seal. “The best practice is to accurately define all cleaning specifications for new contracts and, for existing contracts, be sure to review current policies and procedures, rewriting policies if necessary.”

A Fourth Term: Sterilization

Although it isn’t one of the big three terms, sterilization is a vital infection-fighter in healthcare sites. The process is used with critical devices and instruments being utilized inside a human body during surgery or other invasive procedure. 

Nothing survives sterilization; it destroys all microorganisms on the surface of an article to prevent disease transmission associated with the use of that item. It is typically accomplished using high temperatures with chemicals in an autoclave. 

Sterilization shouldn’t be a term most building service contractors need to worry about.

“Most contractors don’t have to worry about the sterilizing procedure. It is mostly done by lab technicians and typically it doesn’t get contracted out,” says Ben Walker of ManageMen, Salt Lake City.   

JoAnn Petaschnick is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee.

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The Importance Of A Correct Cleaning Contract